Pesky skeeters a menace

By Staff
SKEETERS OFF n Parents often use several products to keep mosquitos away from children and themselves. Photo illustration by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star.
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
May 12, 2001
As with the common cockroach, hard freezes, bug lights, ultrasound devices and nuclear devastation have no affect on mosquito populations, according to a state expert.
This year, the pesky blood suckers are out in full force thanks to a pattern of spring rains that made breeding conditions ideal, said Jerome Goddard, state medical entomologist with the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The good news is that no more disease is spread by an increased mosquito population.
Misinformation
Goddard said most mosquito repellent products are ineffective at fighting the irritating insects.
Bug lights or zappers are virtually useless outdoors since, "all they do is attract more mosquitoes into the yard than into them," and citronella candles offer only minor repellency, he said.
Consumers who spend money on ultrasound or electronic devices to ward off mosquitoes might as well throw their money away.
Myths
Goddard said other myths exist, such as the notion that long, hard freezes kill insect larvae.
The most effective means of repelling mosquitoes are long pants and sleeves at night, bug repellent products such as Off or Avon's Skin So Soft, netting when camping and making sure screens and doors are tight fitting, he said.
Goddard said consumers should look for the DEET ingredient when buying repellents. The ingredient has been said to cause respiratory problems, especially in children, but Goddard said most health problems associated with the product are related to misuse.
Complaints
Kenneth Butler, owner of Butler's Pest Service, said he averages one to two complaints about mosquitoes each day. He said there are products that can be professionally applied to damp or wet areas that will aid in mosquito control.
Another pesticide, Cypermethrin, can be applied to help reduce mosquito population in ditches "but it's not a sure fire thing, although it does help."
Butler agrees that removing standing water and cleaning ditches are better methods of mosquito control than electronic devices.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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