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How to kill the threat of mosquitoes this spring and summer

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This story is the first of a three-entry series.

With spring in full swing and the weather warming up, it is once again time to prepare for the possibility of human interaction with ticks and mosquitoes. That is why the North Shore Land Alliance found it important to bring entomologist Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program to the Locust Valley Library on March 5.

Gangloff-Kaufmann presented an audience of over 50 people with a PowerPoint on how to recognize these pests and what they can do to prevent the parasites from harming them and others. Although the constant talk of bugs made some audience members uneasy, most found the presentation to be a helpful way of learning such a vital skill come the spring.

Roughly 78 million Americans garden, Gangloff-Kaufmann said, making millions upon millions of people susceptible to arthropod-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. She said that these are only some of the diseases which can be transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes to humans, and while they can all be harmful, there ways for people to take preventative measures.

 Mosquitoes

Gangloff-Kaufmann said that all mosquitoes breed in still water, laying eggs in the surface of any body of water which remains still at all times. This could be anything from a pond to storm drains to a bucket of water that has been left out for too long. Mosquito larvae rest at the water’s surface, eventually turning into pupae and being reborn as adults.

Since all mosquitoes breed this way, Gangloff-Kaufmann said one of the most effective means of limiting the presence of mosquito presence in one’s home pond is the inclusion of mosquitofish into its water. These fish are great for eating mosquito larvae, she said, as their mouths can reach the sides of these ponds to get tough-to-reach larvae. She also said that goldfish can be effective as well, as can certain oils and soaps mixed into the water.

“Larval control is where mosquito control should be,” Gangloff-Kaufmann said. “We want to treat the larvae, we don’t want to be treating adults because it’s less effective — it means the problem’s out of control.”

However, if there is no choice but to use preventative actions against adult mosquitoes, Gangloff-Kaufmann said people should do everything they can to block access to human skin using repellents, long sleeves and pants, screens and outdoor fans. Adults can also be killed in the air, although Gangloff-Kaufmann said this was undesirable.

Gangloff-Kaufmann said there are many ways in which humans can prevent the formation of mosquito habitats. This can be done by fixing any landscapes or containers filled with water, something which requires full community cooperation and participation.