Archive for category Outdoor Living Bug Free

Is that Beer you are Drinking Attracting Mosquitoes?

Two things that make me think of summer are barbecues and, unfortunately, mosquitoes. One of my favorite drinks to enjoy during a barbecue on a hot day is an ice-cold brew. What can I say? It is refreshing. A new article from the Smithsonian, however, is saying that those beers are making drinkers more attractive to mosquitoes!

A Smithsonian blog posted recently describes many factors that may make you more attractive to mosquitoes.

mosquito-controlAccording to a 2002 study, just one bottle of your favorite beer may make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Researchers first thought the increase in mosquito attraction was due to higher sweat levels and skin temperature after consuming alcohol, but found that wasn’t the case. It looks like mosquitoes just want a sip of that refreshing drink too!

Pregnant women beware, you are more nearly twice as likely to get mosquito bites than you were before you were with child. Why? Mosquitoes are widely known to be attracted to carbon dioxide and pregnant women exhale over 20% more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant women.

When men and women exercise, they too exhale more carbon dioxide, but it is more than just that increase that entices mosquitoes. During a workout, the body temperature rises and lactic acid is omitted through sweat. Mosquitoes can detect the increase in body temperature, making people easy targets.

A 2004 study found that mosquitoes too have their preferences, in the form of Type O blood. The majority of people produce a chemical signal that indicates which blood type they have. In the study, mosquitoes were twice as likely to land on those people with Type O blood and least likely to land on people with Type A blood.

Scientists have been studying the factors that attract mosquitoes for years that I feel as if there is always something new coming out. Despite all of the information that we have, there still isn’t a cure for mosquito bites beyond bug sprays and mosquito control, but it important to protect yourself if you spend time outside. Mosquito bites are not only annoying, but they can also be dangerous. Mosquitoes can transmit numerous diseases.

At Mosquito Squad, we tell our clients that the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to implement an Integrated Pest Management Solution, including professional mosquito control. As opposed to normal bug spray, mosquito control will eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. You won’t see very many (if any) flying around you as you eat dinner or enjoy a game outdoors. Mosquito Squad targets the areas we know the pests like to feed and harbor, allowing you to enjoy your yard. Trust us, you’ll enjoy not having to spray your children down with bug spray before they go outside too!

If you have questions regarding mosquito control or our services, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Massachusetts Evaluates Mosquito Larvicide Bill

2013 has been a wet year for many parts of the country and you know that that means: mosquitoes, swarms of them. In anticipation for another large year for mosquito-borne illnesses, Massachusetts legislation is looking at a new mosquito bill that can help fight the bite.

It's time to start thinking about controlling the mosquitoes in your area

It’s time to start thinking about controlling the mosquitoes in your area

From 2001 to 2009, municipal workers were allowed to administer non-toxic pesticides in storm drains. Storm drains are the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs because they not only hold water, but it’s also difficult to drain completely. Before 2009, municipal workers were allowed to drop pesticide pellets into the drains to cut down on the amount of mosquitoes hatching and they want that capability back after a year of widespread and fatal cases of West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the area.

In 2012 several Massachusetts towns closed community parks at dusk due to high rate of mosquito-borne disease. There has been a  lot of spring rainfall that has led lawmakers to consider the bill again.

As State Representative Jason Lew explains, “it has never been clear to us why [the Department of Agriculture Resources] didn’t renew it” when the legislation expired in 2009. After the law relapsed only licensed pest control workers could apply the pesticide. Allowing municipal employees to administer the larvicide would ensure the catch basins were treated in a timely manner.

Larvicide is a pest control treatment that targets the culex species larvae. The non-toxic pesticide stops the larva from maturing into mosquitoes that can transmit disease.

At Mosquito Squad, we will administer species specific growth regulators in areas that hold standing water that you can’t get rid of. For example, a client may have a pond or drain that holds water that they can’t get rid of. If it goes untreated, even a Mosquito Squad treatment won’t stop the mosquitoes from maturing and biting. To ensure that our professional mosquito control is the most effective it can be, those areas are treated with a growth regulator that stops maturation.

As we’ve seen the numbers of reported mosquito-borne illnesses continue to rise, we are happy to see that local governments are taking mosquito control more seriously. While we help protect our clients and their families at home, it’s important they have protection in community areas like parks and local fields.

If you have questions on mosquito control and what you can do to fight the bite, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Education During Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Next week, June 23rd through June 29th, 2013 is Mosquito Control Awareness Week, sponsored by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). According to the AMCA, the goal of the week is to “educate the general public about the significance of mosquitoes in their daily lives and the important service provided by mosquito control workers.”

A swarm of mosquitoesAnyone who has been bitten by a mosquito knows they are annoying. The bites swell, can itch for days and, if you are like me, you’ll scratch them over and over again making them last longer. Knowing how bothersome they are is one thing, but understanding the dangers of mosquitoes is another.

Some people may not understand how dangerous mosquitoes can be. Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on the planet due to the diseases they transmit through their bites. We may not have a problem with malaria here in the United States anymore, but that doesn’t mean we are safe from mosquito-borne disease.

Last week we discussed West Nile virus and what to expect from this sometimes deadly disease, but with Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Dengue Fever, mosquitoes can make a lot of people ill in numerous ways. And let’s not forget our canine friends. Every year, dogs are infected with heartworm through the bite of a mosquito.

At Mosquito Squad, we often talk about our professional mosquito control services, but it is important for people to understand the best ways to protect themselves against mosquitoes when they leave their protected yard. The first step is to understand mosquitoes.

While they are most active at dawn and dusk, they are out and about at all times of the day. They are usually found in areas with more mature vegetation as they feed mainly on plants (female mosquitoes need blood meals to lay their eggs).

If you are going to enjoy the sun around some water, make sure that water isn’t stagnant. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, but the eggs won’t survive in moving water. They don’t usually travel far from their breeding grounds, so if there is a lot of standing water in a certain area, there will be a lot of mosquitoes.

Cover up. If you are going to be in an area where you know there will be mosquitoes, consider wearing a loose long sleeve shirt and pants. Loose clothing is harder for mosquitoes to bite you through.

kill mosquitos and ticks at commercial venuesWhen it comes to your backyard, your best protection is mosquito treatments for your yard. Mosquito Squad’s mosquito barrier spray kills adult mosquitoes on contact and provides 21 days of protection thereafter. By spraying the areas that mosquitoes are known to feed and live, we are able to get rid of 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. If you aren’t satisfied with the results, we’ll come back and spray your yard again.

If you have any questions on Mosquito Control Awareness Week or how you can protect yourself and your friends and family from these annoying (an dangerous) pests, contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Another Bad Year for West Nile Virus? Looks Like It!

2012 was a record year for West Nile Virus with over 5 thousand reported cases! And those are just the people who displayed symptoms! Eighty percent of people infected with West Nile will never show any symptoms and will recover on their own so we can only imagine how many people had this mosquito-borne disease. We are only a few months into this year’s mosquito season and it’s already looking like it could be another big year of West Nile.

A new study out of Texas is reporting higher numbers of southern house mosquitoes, the specie of mosquito that most frequently transmit the disease in the area. Texas had the highest number of West Nile cases in 2012 and as a result implemented increased mosquito spraying and testing this year. When comparing 2012 and 2013 trapping numbers, there is more potential for mosquitoes carrying West Nile this year than last.

Traps out of Dallas County Texas were analyzed three times in the month of May, on the 11th, 18th and 25th respectively. Each time the number of southern house mosquitoes went up. Understanding the numbers and potential threats, will hopefully lead to increased awareness of the dangers that mosquitoes can transmit.

Nearly 290 people died from West Nile Virus last year. Certain municipalities cancelled outdoor events because of the threat. We at Mosquito Squad are happy to see that many areas of the country have responded with larger mosquito control budgets to protect their communities. More widespread spraying is taking place as well as treatment for areas that are known to hold a lot of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

While governments are taking action on public properties, homeowners still need to take action at their own home, especially if they spend time outdoors. We’ve always called our tips to get rid of mosquitoes the 5Ts and we’ve made it easy to remember. Just take a look at this…

While this video is fun, the underlying message is serious. The 5Ts are important steps in combatting the mosquito population on any given property. Survey your yard and take note of areas where you 1) see standing water or 2) see an abundance of mosquitoes. That will tell you the most important areas to treat.

Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which will develop into mosquitoes in just a few days. And it doesn’t take a lot of water to do it in. A bottle cap provides enough water to lay up to 300 eggs in! It may be difficult, or even impossible, to get rid of ALL the standing water in your yard, do what you can, especially to the larger containers. For example, that bird bath you have may be beautiful, but it’s the best place for a mosquito to lay its eggs if it isn’t turned over on a regular basis.

Mosquitoes, unfortunately, aren’t easily eliminated from a property without professional mosquito control treatments. That’s where Mosquito Squad comes into play! Our trained applicators will come to your property and treat the foliage that mosquitoes feed on. Our spray is able to get in underneath the foliage that are difficult to get to on your own.

If you have questions on the best way to get rid of mosquitoes, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Mosquitoes are Out, Protect You and Your Family from Bites

It’s officially mosquito season and they are out in droves. Many areas of the country had abnormally wet weather this winter and into the spring, making it the perfect condition for mosquitoes. I’m lucky enough to see some of the comments that prospective clients write on their service requests and recently it seems like everyone is getting attacked by mosquitoes! Here are just some of the comments:

Please come and spray by yard, my kids can’t go outside without bites

Mosquitoes are really bad this year, we need someone to come take a look at our yard.

HELP US! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!

Asian Tiger MosquitoOver the years I’ve heard and tried many “tricks” to mosquito control. You see, I’m one of those people who always get bitten by mosquitoes and continue to itch for days (my dad always tells me it is because I’m so sweet – thanks Dad!). No matter what I tried, I got mosquito bites. The only course of action for me was to be more proactive and get rid of the mosquitoes in my yard before they could get to me.

The key to getting rid of mosquitoes in your yard is to get rid of their breeding grounds: standing water. This is harder than it seems because mosquitoes will lay eggs in very small amounts of water. Did you know that 300 mosquito eggs can be laid in as little as a bottle cap of water? For me, I walked around my property and took note of all the places that could hold water and tossed it. Here are some things to take note of if you are evaluating your yard:

  • Kid’s toys
  • Dog dishes
  • Bird paths
  • Pots
  • Catch basins
  • Yard debris

Getting rid of standing water is a key part of mosquito control in your yard because mosquitoes do not venture far from where they hatched. So if they are hatching in your yard, they are there to bite you. Unfortunately getting rid of all the standing water on a property is much easier said than done. Inevitably, despite my best efforts, there is standing water on my property that mosquitoes can use to lay eggs. And since I’m so sensitive to mosquito bites, I became even more proactive and started to treat my yard with mosquito spray. By having my local Mosquito Squad (yes, I’m a client too!) team come out and treat my yard every three weeks, I keep the mosquitoes out of my yard and, more importantly, away from my skin!

As I read the service requests, I completely understand that frustration of being bitten by mosquitoes even when you think you’ve tried everything. Our Mosquito Squad owners take pride in providing relief from the dangers and annoyance of mosquitoes and ticks. And it’s really easy; you don’t even have to be home!

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Dead mosquito – Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

The average mosquito barrier spray takes between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the size of the property. Our trained technicians apply the treatment to the areas where mosquitoes feed and harbor. After 30 minutes for drying, you are welcome to come out and enjoy your yard once again. The spray will last up to 21 days before you need another treatment.

If you have questions on mosquito control and how the Mosquito Squad services work, please reach out to your local Squad. We’re here to help!

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Mosquito Control Products – do they work?

With the increase of vector borne diseases, utilizing mosquito control is an important part of your outdoor living experience. No one likes to be bitten by mosquitoes, but they are not only annoying, but dangerous. Last year the United States had an outbreak of West Nile Virus that impacted many states.

Mosquitoes can be dangerous when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever

Integrated Pest Management will help you Fight the Bite in your yard

Every day it seems like there is a new mosquito control product that promises to protect you and your family against mosquitoes, but we all know that not every products works. People have varying success with candles, sprays, phone applications (really?) and other tricks that you hear about. The key to mosquito control, as we at Mosquito Squad try to teach, is integrated pest management. Using a mosquito control repellent once, while it may help for the moment, will not help fight the overarching issue – you have mosquitoes in your yard.

The EPA has a page on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that focuses more on pest management for farmers, however the same principles apply to your yard, just on a smaller scale. Here are the 4 steps of IPM:

1 – Set Action Thresholds. The threshold is when you decide that action is needed. One bite may not mean that you need professional mosquito control. For me, my threshold is not being able to be outside comfortably without bites for a half hour.

2 – Monitor and Identify Pest. This step is much more complicated at the commercial level, but for the homeowner, not so much. Take notice of the bugs that are bothering you. Are they mosquitoes? Ticks?

3 – Prevention. This is the first step of mosquito control in the yard. For the homeowner, prevention includes what you can do to your property to help prevent mosquitoes. The best way to prevent mosquito population increases is to stop them from breeding and reaching maturity. Mosquitoes breed and mature in standing water. Make a note to get rid of any puddles on your property or tip over anything that holds water (like toys and dog dishes) at least once a week.

4 – Control. After trying to prevent mosquitoes, if it hasn’t stopped the problem, it’s time to control them using a professional mosquito control product. At Mosquito Squad, we treat the areas that mosquitoes are known to feed and harbor. The mosquitoes are killed on contact and future pests, when they come to feed on the treated vegetation, they will ingest the product and die. One treatment lasts for up to 21 days.

All four steps of IPM are important, that’s why most mosquito control products on the market truly don’t work. The only include one step (and do that poorly most of the time).

If you have questions on IPM, please contact your local Mosquito Squad.

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Looking back on 2012 and West Nile Virus

The end of every year brings an onslaught of lists looking back on the past 12 months. The best news stories, the best videos, the best couples, etc. all those lists and more. In a recent list of the Biggest Health Stories of 2012, Fox News placed West Nile in the number 13 spot. With over 5,000 confirmed cases and 228 deaths, it was the worst year for the virus since 2003 (according to MedPage Today, there was excessive testing in 2003 which boosted that year’s numbers).

Photo of West Nile Virus under a microscope

Photo of West Nile Virus under a microscope

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been researching the surge of cases this year and looking for trends or reasons behind the numbers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer. As Marc Fischer, a medical officer for the CDC says “there’s no single or specific factor that we can point to as to why, or if, a year is going to have high or low activity.” Source.

West Nile is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes most commonly get the virus from birds, but can get it from other vertebrate. Because it’s a cycle that changes from location to location, studies are most effective when done locally. What elevated the spread of West Nile in Texas will be different than what happened in Maine for instance.

Fischer and his team have studied the virus to check for mutations that may have made the virus stronger, resulting in greater symptoms and confirmed cases (most people with West Nile will never display symptoms). The flu, for example, is known to continually mutate. There is no evidence to suggest the virus is changing but will be monitored over several years.

In short, questions regarding West Nile and why 2012 was such a bad year for the virus remain unanswered. We can’t properly guess what 2013 will bring, so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites. And what is the best way to avoid mosquito bites? To get rid of mosquitoes!

At Mosquito Squad, we suggest the 5 Ts of mosquito control for yards. They center on the idea of getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed and like to harbor: Tip, Toss, Turnover, Remove Tarps and Treat.

Tip over any objects like kids’ toys and watering cans. Toss out any leftover yard debris like clippings and leaves that can puddle water inside. Turnover dog dishes and plant saucers once a week to make sure mosquitoes don’t have a chance to breed. Tarps hold water so make sure they are tight. And lastly treat. At Mosquito Squad, we provide effective mosquito control with our barrier spray service. Our technicians spray the vegetation where mosquitoes feed and harbor, creating a protective barrier around our clients’ property. We come back every 21 days to keep families and their guests safe from mosquitoes.

If you are interested in learning more about Mosquito Squad, please contact your local office.

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