Mosquito season is underway in Clay County

Mosquito season is underway in Clay County by April Borders It's spring time and the weather is turning warmer and warmer everyday. With nice weather comes the task of working outside and cleaning up the lawn and getting ready for summer. It's a wonderful time of year. But there is one thing that we might be overlooking. With warm temperatures come other things besides green grass, flowers and planting crops. It also means the start of mosquito season.

It's hard to believe that we should be worried about mosquitoes in April but as soon as the temperatures reach about 50 degrees F. we have active mosquitoes that are hungry and looking for a meal. That meal happens to be you. Mosquito season is here!

With one bite, mosquitoes can transmit life threatening diseases, like West Nile virus, to humans. West Nile virus has caught the nation's attention. Public concern and awareness are high in every state and we are no different here.

Identifying where a mosquito problem starts is a crucial first step. Usually, quiet, out of the way places are where we will find these pests. They could be in bird baths, catch basins, rain gutters, tree holes, ponds, lakes, roadside ditches, anywhere that water can stand for an extended period of time. That's where you will be able to find mosquitoes.

Because of the threat of West Nile and in an attempt to control mosquitoes, several groups and entities have come together to establish an abatement or control program for mosquitoes. The city of Vermillion, Clay County, the city of Wakonda and several townships have come together to apply for a state grant for mosquito control. They will be actively working to control the larval stage of the insect and also will have a fogging program in place to use when adult mosquito control is required.

Yankton County and their seven municipalities have also put together a county wide abatement program. Their main thrust of control will be larval control (larviciding) in those areas of stagnant water and they will also have an adult control program (adulticiding/ fogging). They are also applying for the state grant to help establish their program.

Mosquito surveillance will also be a key component to this program. We will have mosquito collection units out in the towns and mosquito populations will be monitored. The Clay County Extension Office will also be collecting dead birds for West Nile virus testing.

But the mosquito control is not the sole responsibility of the cities, municipalities and the county. The control program falls to each of us. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Get rid of stagnant water in containers around your homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g., buckets, flowerpots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths.) Keep mosquitoes from entering your home by repairing screens in windows and doors. Keep the grass around your home trimmed.

If you are outside take precautions then too. Whenever possible, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outside. Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to be active and feeding. And if you are outside use insect repellants that contain DEET and are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Carefully read and follow all label directions for application and use.

Also, don't fool yourself in to thinking "It can't happen to me" or "I've already been bitten by a mosquito and I feel fine." Most people infected with the disease experience no symptoms or have only mild symptoms such as fever and headaches. More severe infections can include high fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, altered mental state and death. The young and the elderly are most likely to be at risk. But don't think that it won't happen to you because it can. Take precautions and play it safe. Help do your part to control mosquitoes around your home and take precautions and protect yourself.

For more information about the West Nile virus, mosquito control or about personal mosquito repellents call the Clay County Extension Office at 605-677-7111.

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