Battle against the bite: Mosquito season is here

Summer does have one downside: the arrival of mosquito season in the D.C. area.

This is the time of year where states and local governments try to battle the bloodsucking bugs, but keeping the mosquito population under control also requires residents to do their part.

“Last year, I think everyone in the state of Maryland will tell you that it was probably one of the highest mosquito populations we’ve seen in 20-something years,” said Daniel Schamberger with the Mosquito Control program for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Schamberger said surveillance of the bugs thus far reveals this season is about average — an improvement from last year.

Schamberger said Maryland has begun its annual spraying for the mosquitoes. The process involves trucks driving through neighborhoods and releasing a spray that prevents mosquitoes from reaching the age of a biting adult.

Residents who see the trucks should go indoors and bring animals inside for at least 20 minutes, which is about how long it takes for the spray to dissipate. Since the product is nonresidual, anything left outside during a spraying doesn’t pose a threat to people or pets, said Schamberger.

Residents can also do their part by eliminating mosquito breeding spots around their home. This includes emptying anything that contains standing water.

“(It) can be anything from cans, plastic bags, tarps, children’s toys, anything that can hold water for more than 7-10 days,” Schamberger said.

The state suggests treating anything with stagnant water that can’t be emptied with products that contain Bti — Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis — or methoprene, which act as a controlling agent for the bugs.

Schamberger said people can also minimize bites by wearing light-colored, loosefitting clothing and limiting time outside between dusk and dawn. Mosquito repellent is also another way to keep the bugs at bay.

The state will continue to monitor the mosquito population and check the bugs for diseases, including West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika.

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