With summer just around the corner is St. Louis, many people are planning their BBQs, picnics, and relaxing days enjoying the sunshine. But as the weather warms up, pests will begin to emerge from their hiding places. Some of these pests, such as mosquitos, can carry dangerous viruses, such as the Zika virus, that can pose a risk to your family’s health.
There are a variety of ways you can protect yourself and your property from a mosquito invasion to keep yourself and your family safe this summer and make your outdoor activities more enjoyable, without the buzzing of mosquitos.
Warmer Weather Brings Sunshine and Disease-Carrying Mosquitos
Jeff Phillips, President of Blue Chip Pest Services said mosquitos begin to emerge once the weather warms up and freezing temperatures have subsided. “In St. Louis that is starting right now to some extent. We’ve already had some signs of breeding,” Phillips said.
He said mosquitos are most prevalent in St. Louis from April through October. Mosquitos are cold-blooded insects, so they prefer warmer temperatures and can become a nuisance as temperatures rise over 50 degrees causing them to leave their hiding spots where they spent the winter months.
Dangers of the Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases
The Zika virus disease is caused by the zika virus. Diseases like the Zika virus can be carried by mosquitos and transmitted to humans when an infected mosquito bites them. The zika virus causes a typically mild illness and has symptoms that last for about a week. Some people who are infected do not suffer from any symptoms at all or will only experience mild symptoms such as fever, muscles pain, and headaches.
So far this year, there have been no reported cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. According to the CDC, in 2018 there were 72 Zika virus disease cases reported in the U.S. from travelers who were returning from affected areas. In the U.S. territories, there were 148 Zika virus cases reported with one of the cases from a traveler returning from an affected area and 147 cases that were from what was presumed to be a local mosquito-borne transmission.
Although the zika virus is not as common, a Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a severe congenital disability called microcephaly as well as other severe brain defects. “Zika for most people at worst it is a nuisance,” Phillips said. He said aside from the risks to pregnant women, Zika is not as dangerous or as widespread as viruses like West Nile.
West Nile does not show symptoms in most people, but those who do experience symptoms may suffer from:
- Joint pain
- Body aches
Although most people recover completely, the fatigue and weakness caused by the West Nile virus can last anywhere from weeks to months. Some may experience more severe symptoms such as:
- High fever
- Neck stiffness
- Vision loss and more.
Those who develop a more severe illness may also experience encephalitis, known as inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, known as inflammation of the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain. Recovering from severe illness can take weeks or months, with the possibility of some of the effects on the central nervous system being permanent. As of January 8, 2019, a total of 2,544 cases of West Nile virus disease in people were reported to CDC, with 49 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have reported infections.
Another disease that can be carried by mosquitos and transmitted to humans includes Western Equine Encephalitis, commonly occurring in states west of the Mississippi River. This virus can cause severe inflammation of the brain, known as encephalitis, in humans and horses.
Humans who are infected may experience symptoms that include joint aches, body aches, fever, and chills. If the infection develops into severe encephalitis, people may experience symptoms such as disorientation, seizures, tremors, and paralysis with some cases resulting in coma, permanent brain damage, and even death.
If you have been bitten by a mosquito and experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to contact your health care provider as soon as possible.
How Can You Prevent a Mosquito Infestation?
“The biggest thing is eliminating breeding sources nearby,” Phillips said. “Ultimately mosquitos breed in small bodies of water, anything ranging from a clogged gutter to a drain pipe to a low spot in the yard. Anywhere that water can accumulate for a few days can be a breeding source for mosquitoes to breed eggs and hatch.”
Phillips said there are a few things homeowners can do to help prevent them such as using a larvicidal treatment or stocking their pond with fish that eat mosquito larvae such as goldfish, mosquito fish, and guppies. You can also aerate your pond or water feature to help keep the water clear of mosquito larvae. Mosquitos may also breed in overwatered landscaping, flower pots, rain barrels, and pool covers.
To help prevent mosquitos, it is also important to:
- Inspect and clean your gutters.
- Eliminate water sources in your yard or near your home.
- Keep trees trimmed as well as other landscaping so that the plants and your home can be dried by the sun.
By removing common breeding grounds, you can help to reduce the mosquito population around your home, keeping you and your family safe from these potentially disease-carrying pests.
Protecting Yourself from Mosquito Bites
Phillips said the only proven method for preventing mosquito bites is to use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET. “It’s been shown as the most effective way to keep mosquitos from bothering you,” Phillips said.
He said you can also wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt to protect your skin from bites, but this is not always the most comfortable option during a hot St. Louis summer. You can also try to avoid spending time outside during their prime feeding times of dawn and dusk. Also, consider wearing lighter colored clothing made from thicker fabric with a looser fit to protect yourself.
Professional Mosquito Extermination and Control Services
At Blue Chip Pest Services, their team of experts can treat your property for mosquitos, helping to reduce the population of mosquitos near your home and in turn reducing your risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease. They will first inspect your yard to identify the breeding grounds as well as the resting and harborage areas for the mosquitos.
Phillips said one of their main treatments is to treat mosquito resting areas where they tend to gather during the day, such as leafy areas around the home, with a residual mist that clings to these surfaces to help reduce the overall mosquito population around the house. This treatment will also be done for the landscaping around the home and the perimeter of your yard, with a heavier application in these areas if you live near a wooded area.
As an additional service, Phillips’ team of pest control experts can also treat mosquito breeding sites on your property such as small lakes or ponds, if needed. These sites will be treated with a larvicide to help prevent future generations of mosquitos from breeding. It is normal to still see some mosquitos after treatment, but if you feel there are still too many mosquitos, Blue Chip Pest Services will come out and treat your yard again free of charge.
Contact Blue Chip Pest Services today to learn more about their Mosquito Control and other Pest Control Services for St. Louis.