Protect yourself and help reduce the mosquito population
FREEHOLD, NJ – As the mosquito season continues Monmouth County residents should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites and eliminate backyard mosquito habitats that allow for the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus.
“Right now, many of Monmouth County’s mosquito problems are being caused by the Asian tiger mosquito that grows in man-made containers of water,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the Monmouth County’s Mosquito Extermination Commission. “This mosquito is a very aggressive biter and is one of the few mosquitoes that bite throughout the day and night.”
Asian tiger mosquitoes can grow in containers as small as a bottle cap. Sometimes finding the sources can be very time consuming.
“The good news is that Asian tiger mosquitoes do not travel more than a few hundred yards from where they hatch,” said Douglas Guthrie Sr., Superintendent of the county’s mosquito control program. “If you can eliminate all locations on your property where water collects, you can reduce your Asian tiger mosquito population and breeding locations for other species, too.”
The commission also emphasizes that homeowners should check that their window and door screens are in good repair, and that their property is free of water-holding containers such as cans, buckets, tires, flower pots, wheelbarrows and toys that create areas where mosquitoes can breed.
“Residents need to be vigilant in protecting themselves and reducing the places where mosquitoes can increase their population,” Arnone said. “It is also important that residents follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for personal protection.”
The CDC recommends that people can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and, as a result, lower their exposure to insect-borne diseases by following some simple steps:
- When outdoors, apply insect repellent following the label instructions, especially for use on children
- wear long sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible
- avoid outdoor activity at peak mosquito times – dusk and dawn
The CDC also recommends the use of repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (KBR 3023) or IR 3535. Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane-3,8-diol) provide better protection than other plant-based repellents but fall short compared to products containing high concentrations of DEET.
“You should choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time you will be outdoors,” Guthrie said. “Repellents with a higher percentage of an active ingredient, like DEET, typically provide longer-lasting protection.”
The Mosquito Extermination Commission routinely tests various county sites to monitor mosquito breeding and activity including the presence of West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE V).
The mosquito samples collected as part of the Commission’s surveillance program are transported to the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services laboratory in Trenton where they are tested for the virus. This is part of a statewide Vector Surveillance Program that is funded in part by the State Mosquito Control Commission and administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s, Office of Mosquito Control Coordination. The data gathered from this collaborative effort are used by the Commission to target specific areas for additional treatment.
“Professional mosquito control is always guided by the surveillance, giving you the most efficient and effective results for your efforts,” Tony Acquaviva, Mosquito Commission entomologist said.
Residents who find dead birds should call their local or regional public health departments to report the finding. Birds in the corvid family, consisting of crows, blue jays, and grackles, that do not have obvious signs of injury or decay can be collected by heath officials and submitted to the State Health Department laboratory for testing.
“I have every confidence in the professionalism and dedication of the Commission’s employees to provide quality mosquito control,” Guthrie said. “I also recognize the fact that we can’t eliminate all mosquitoes. Therefore, it is important that citizens follow the CDC’s recommendations for personal protection and help us reduce mosquito habitats.”
If you know of any potential sources such as unmaintained pools, a yard with many containers or buckets, or a foreclosed property, please contact the Monmouth County Mosquito Commission.
You can complete an online request form at www.visitmonmouth.com/mosquito or call 732-542-3630. Specific information will help our inspectors respond to your request.
For the latest information on mosquito control and mosquito-borne disease activity in Monmouth County, residents can log onto the Commission’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com/mosquito.
The most up-to-date mosquito control information can also be heard on the Mosquito Commission’s hotline at 732-578-1600.