Archive for category Outdoor Living

Lyme disease bigger issue than reported

I love to hike. If it is nice outside, you can find me on the trails enjoying the day. That being said, I am VERY aware of my surroundings and the critters I’m sharing nature with, including ticks. Ticks, like mosquitoes, transmit diseases through their bite. The most common tick-borne illness is Lyme disease and it look as though it is a bigger issue than we thought.

In recent years, we’ve seen the number of confirmed cases rise in the US. With only 20,000 to 30,000 cases reported each year to the Centers of Disease Control, the CDC decided to do a more comprehensive study to get a better estimate of how many annual cases are actually diagnosed. Their findings show that there are closer to 300,000 people that are diagnosed with Lyme each year!

The majority of doctors don’t report confirmed cases to the CDC, resulting in numbers that were 10 times smaller than the most realistic numbers. To gauge how far off the reported cases were, national laboratories and patients were surveyed. Insurance information was also reviewed.

While 96 % of reported cases occur in just 13 states, the studied revealed that the disease affects a larger geographic reason than assumed.

Dr. Paul Mead of the CDC explains: “We know that routine surveillance only gives us part of the pictures, and that the true number of illnesses is much greater. This new preliminary estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States, and clearly highlights the urgent need for prevention.” Source.

Mosquito Squad kills ticks deadLyme disease is difficult to diagnose because the vast majority of its symptoms are similar to the flu, including fatigue, fever and headaches. Many people believe that the bull’s-eye rash that Lyme is known for displays in all cases, but that is just not true. Patients can have Lyme disease and never have a rash around the tick bite.

At Mosquito Squad, we help our clients fight Lyme by ridding their yards of ticks, but there are things that homeowners can do on their own property to minimize the risk of getting a tick bite. We call them the 6Cs.

Clear out lawn and tree debris. Ticks love shady, moist areas that debris can create.

Clean out your lawn of any litter or brush. Keep your grass mowed.

Choose plants that don’t attract deer. Deer often are the transportation system for ticks to enter onto your property.

Check hiding places. Ticks like to hide along fences, brick and retaining walls. Know where the hiding places are on your property and check them regularly.

Care for your pets. Our pets often venture into parts of the yard that we don’t and often those spaces are the perfect places for ticks. As tick-borne diseases, like Lyme, can affect animals as well, make sure you talk to your vet about mosquito and tick control for your dog

And lastly, call the professionals. At Mosquito Squad, we utilize our barrier spray treatment and tick tubes to rid properties of ticks.

If you have questions regarding tick control for your yard, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Tips to Make Your Fourth of July Party Fabulous

At Mosquito Squad, we will take any excuse to spend time outdoors with friends and family and the Fourth of July is just one of them. If you are hosting a cookout next week to celebrate our country’s independence, here are some great tips to make sure you and your guests have a great time.

Make what you can before your guests arrive. No one wants to go to your party and spend no time with you, so think about what you can prepare before everyone arrives. Keep your hot items simple, like hot dogs and hamburgers so you don’t have to be away from your guests for long. Cut up their accompaniments (like tomatoes and onions) in advance and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

One of our favorite go-to dips you can make the night before and is sure to be a hit: the black bean and corn salsa. Mix together 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 8-10 oz. of cooked corn, 1 chopped tomato, 1/3 c red onion, 1 chopped scallion, the juice from 1 ½ limes, 1 tbsp olive oil and two tbsp cilantro. Let it marinate for at least an hour. If you want, you can add some avocado to it right before you serve. Yummy!

Keeps the kids entertained. If your guest list includes kids, make sure there is something to keep them entertained. Whether it’s a game or craft, having something to keep the kids busy is always a good idea. If it’s a hot day out, consider having some kind of water fun to cool them down, like this cute sprinkler from Amazon.

Show off some red, white and blue. The Fourth of July is the best day to wear or display our country’s colors. Incorporate red, white and blue into the decorations for your party. From flowers to crafts, the possibilities are endless. If you want some small, easy, yet patriotic, centerpieces, here’s an idea: buy some colored sand (or candies) and place it mason jars or a vase for your table (layer red, white and blue sand) and then stick some small American flags in at the top. It will take you 5 minutes tops! If you want something a little more elaborate, check out this Uncle Same inspired centerpiece by Crafts Unleashed.

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad want to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad want to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

Keep your guests off the menu. No one wants to go to a barbecue and be eaten alive by mosquitoes. A lot of mosquitoes can ruin your party. Save your party and call your local Mosquito Squad. Our professional mosquito control will keep the bugs away from you, your food and your guests so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

From all of us at Mosquito Squad, have a Happy Fourth of July!

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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!

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Preparations to Battle West Nile Begin

Last summer the United States saw a spike in the number of West Nile Virus cases across the country. By the end of the year, 48 states reported confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease, resulting in 243 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “eighty percent of the cases have been from 13 states (Texas, California, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio and New York) and a third of all cases have been reported from Texas.” Spring is now right around the corner and officials have started preparing for the battle against the mosquito and the diseases they transmit.

Public health employees in Tarrant County, Texas, where 11 people died of West Nile last year, have already begun trapping and testing mosquitoes. As Dr. Anita Kurtian, chief epidemiologist explains, the plan this year “is significantly more aggressive in terms of surveillance and response.” Source. They’ve increased the number of traps so safety communications to the public can be more proactive.

Dallas County, Texas is also increasing their mosquito trapping as a result of 19 deaths last year.

On the east coast, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia approved the “Disease Carrying Insect Program” to help measure and prevent not only the spread of West Nile Virus but also Lyme disease that has greatly affected the area in past years.

We at Mosquito Squad are thrilled to see that plans are already in place to be more proactive with respect to the spread of mosquito-borne disease!

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: