Time to start mosquito-proofing your home

WASHINGTON — With the weather warming up after a torrent of rain, the mosquito-borne Zika virus is a worry on many minds.

Little puddles of collected water can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, so it’s time to take action to keep them away from your house and yard.

“Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, and they don’t need much,” Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, told WTOP. “The Asian tiger mosquito can complete its development in a bottle cap of water.”

Raupp suggests walking around the yard to get rid of overturned items that can collect water, such as empty flowerpots or a wheelbarrow.

“Dump and scrub out that birdbath twice a week in the summertime and you can begin that right now,” he said.

And don’t forget about an out-of-sight spot where water can collect.

“Get up on the roof. Check your gutters. If they’re plugged and not draining and hold water for a week or two, mosquitoes are going to breed in those gutters, so keep your gutters clean,” Raupp added.

If your yard has a low spot that collects water, you can kill mosquito larvae there with something called a “BTI dunk” or mosquito dunk.

“This is a soil microbe, it’s called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, and it’s toxic to mosquito larvae. It’s environmentally very safe because it’s not going to kill beneficial things like bees or parasitic wasps or butterflies in your yard,” Raupp said.

You simply toss a ring-shaped dunk into the puddle and it dissolves.

Also, check the insect screens on your doors and windows.

“Make sure that your screens are in good repair. Don’t leave screen doors open,” he added. “The little house mosquito will follow you right indoors and it will bite you inside your house,” Raupp said.

If mosquitoes tend to bite you when you’re out trying to enjoy your patio or deck, Raupp has a cool solution: Turn on a box or oscillating fan and aim it toward you.

“Mosquitoes cannot fly efficiently in a windy condition. This will help keep those mosquitoes off you and it’ll make your dining experience all the more pleasurable,” he said.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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