Mosquitoes are rarely far from the headlines. They’re the most dangerous animals on the planet but for most people, they’re just plain annoying. As summer approaches, backyards around Australia will soon be a battle ground between these blood-suckers and families. Whether they’re flying in from nearby wetlands or emerging from pools of water in your pot plant saucers, mosquitoes can certainly ruin summer.
Thousands of people are diagnosed with a mosquito-borne disease each year in Australia. The most common is caused by ‘Ross River Virus’. The disease won’t kill you but it can make you very sick with fever, rash, joint pain and fatigue. It’s usually a short illness, but symptoms can persist for many weeks or months making it a potentially severely debilitant illness.
Dengue remains a major problem internationally with thousands of Australians returning infected from holidays from tropical destinations. The Zika virus has grabbed the public health spotlight this year.
The mosquito that bites more Australians than any other is Aedes notoscriptus. This black and white mosquito with distinctively striped legs and in iridescent lyre shaped pattern on its back is at home among bird baths, buckets, pot plant saucers and rainwater tanks of our backyards. It will bite and can also spread Ross River virus. Our pets aren’t safe either as they can spread dog heart-worm too. These mozzies are probably the biggest threat to an itch-free summer.
Tips on Keeping Mosquitoes Away
Killing mosquitoes or at least keeping them at bay isn’t easy, but a combination of professional treatments and advice given to homeowners for actions to take can impact mosquito numbers:
Clean up backyards: Any water holding container can be a home to mosquitoes, so make sure you tip out, drain out or throw out any containers large or small. Make sure drains and gutters are clean of leaves and other rubbish. Check to see that the rainwater tank is screened too, this will stop mosquitoes from getting in and out.
Screening is your friend: Make sure openings to the home are screened. Stopping the mosquitoes making their way indoors will help reduce the chances you’ll wake up in the morning covered in bites.
Insecticides can be effective.
Residual surface sprays, particularly bifenthrin and deltamethrin are mostly used. They have been used in many regions of Australia to help reduce populations of biting insects in the backyard. These sprays should target cool, shaded and humid areas where mosquitoes are likely to be hiding out.
Burning the mosquito coils.
When picking these products, make sure you go with one that contains an insecticide as those that only have citronella or other plant-based products won’t keep as many mosquitoes away. Make sure you never sleep next to a smouldering mosquito coil, they say you’ll breathe in a ‘pack of cigarettes’ with of smoke overnight!
Avoid the gimmicks and gadgets: You may not like burning mosquito coils or smearing on insect repellent, however devices and even smart phone apps don’t work!