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MDARD Offers Consumers Advice on Safe Mosquito Control This Summer Season

LANSING – With warmer summer weather finally making its appearance, Michiganders are urged to remember to take precautions against mosquitos, ticks, and the diseases they carry. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is providing guidance for safely choosing and using insect repellants and insecticides.

Mosquitos are annoying and potentially dangerous pests. They often seem to appear overnight and can spread dangerous diseases like West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) through their bites. However, with an early summer mosquito prevention strategy, you can limit mosquito bites and disease spread.

“One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent mosquitos is dumping standing water on your property at least once a week,” said Brian Verhougstraete, MDARD’s Pesticide Section Manager. “Mosquitos lay eggs in water, so eliminating standing water removes mosquitos’ ability to breed. Mosquito larvae live in water and can take only seven days after hatching from eggs to grow into flying adults, making preparation and early action essential. Now is a great time to check around for anything that collects water.”

Look for standing water in places like:

Clogged gutters
Kids’ toys
Flowerpots and buckets
Bird baths

During warm summer days, mosquitos can often be found hiding in tall grass and brush offering them shade and protection. Homeowners can easily combat this by maintain a regular lawn mowing schedule. The early spring is a good time to clear some brush to reduce mosquito populations while also keeping dangerous ticks away from your lawn.

Insect repellents applied to the skin are one of the most popular and effective products used to avoid insect bites. Other commonly used repellants include torches, table-top diffusers, candles, and coils. When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women:

Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
Para-menthane-diol (PMD)

Once mosquitos arrive, larvicides and adulticides can also provide temporary control of mosquitos. Larvicides are products designed to be applied directly to water to control mosquito larvae. Adulticides are used in fogging and spraying to control adult mosquitoes. Both options can temporarily reduce the mosquito population in your area, but do not provide long-term solutions against mosquitos.

“Whether you use an insect repellent or insecticide, always remember to read and follow all label directions,” added Verhougstraete. “The label is the law.”

A safe alternative to applying insecticides yourself is hiring a mosquito control business. Mosquito control businesses are required to be licensed to apply pesticides in Michigan and must meet certain financial and experience requirements including proof of insurance, meet certain experience requirements, and employ certified pesticide applicators who have passed MDARD proficiency examinations. A list of Michigan firms licensed to apply pesticides is available online.

Listen to the Fresh from the Field Podcast to learn more about controlling mosquitos and mosquito borne illnesses.