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Mississippians can successfully fight mosquitos

By By Steve Strong / area horticulture extension agent
Aug. 21, 2002
Mosquito worries continue to plague residents throughout the Gulf South, and experts suggest that Mississippians may need to take precautions against West Nile Virus for many years to come.
Here is an update on a number of strategies being used to combat mosquitoes in our area, and what people can do protect themselves and their families.
First, wear long-sleeved, loose-fitted clothing when spending time outdoors during the early morning and evening hours.
To prevent mosquito bites indoors, keep the insects outside by making sure doors or windows remain tightly closed, and that window screens fit snugly.
Personal defense
Repellent products can be applied directly to the skin, and should be used only as directed on the label.
DEET formula N, N, diethyl-3-methybenzamide remains among the most effective skin repellents on the market, giving up to four hours of protection depending on the concentration.
Botanical repellents also appear to be quite effective in preventing mosquito bites, but may need to be applied more often. Most of these products contain plant oils from herbs and/or woody plants, and there is little research data available on their long-term effectiveness.
Pesticides are different from repellents, and are used to kill mosquitoes, rather than simply ward them off. One such compound available that can be applied to clothing is permethrin, a synthetic-based pyrethrin often used to treat camp tent walls and mosquito netting.
Permethrin also contains a label for applying to horses and poultry, and is one of the few options for livestock owners. Permethrin can maintain its potency as long as two weeks, so care should be taken to only use this product as directed on clothing and not on the skin.
The larva front
Briquets containing a larvacide (bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) can be used in standing water such as water gardens, ponds or stagnant ditches. The active ingredient is a naturally occurring bacterium that attacks only the larval form of certain insects and does no harm to humans, fish or livestock.
Other larvacide briquets that contain methoprene, which prevents mosquito larvae from maturing into adults. Check with local farm supply dealers to see what they have in stock, and be patient, not panicked when you realize that everybody in town is trying to find something that works.
The air assault
The city and county have both implemented spray control programs, and will likely rely on malathion, resmethrin, sumethrin or permethrin compounds to provide some relief from the bloodsucking hordes.
These compounds are registered for municipal pest control programs. They may be available in some form to homeowners, but are probably not the most practical strategy for the average Joe.
You are much better off trying a repellent for personal protection, rather than spending a fortune trying to spray the entire world against an insect that has too many places to hide.
Don't forget to put fresh water daily in bird baths, and get rid of standing water in old buckets, tires, and wheelbarrows.
Log on to www.msucares.com for continued updates on the mosquito situation, and contact your county health department or city/county pest control officers with questions. When it comes to mosquitoes, the best offense is a good defense, so either coat yourself down with the right stuff, or be prepared to remain indoors until the first frost.

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