April's Ag Advice 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 over looking. With warm temperatures comes 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� F. we have active mosquitoes that are hungry and looking for a meal. That meal happens to be you!
With one bite, mosquitoes can transmit life threatening diseases, like West Nile virus, to humans. West Nile virus (WNV) has caught the nation's attention the past couple of years and public concern and awareness has been high. But with lower numbers of WNV incidence last year, we might think that we don't have to be as cautious as we have been in the past.
The threat of WNV is still real and still as important as it has been. Don't fool yourself into thinking it can't happen to you because it can. It only takes one bite from the right mosquito and you could be in serious trouble. So make sure that you take steps to personally protect yourself.
If you are outside take precautions. Whenever possible, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. 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.
The city of Vermillion will again be doing mosquito surveillance as this is a key component to a successful mosquito abatement program. Mosquito collection units again will be placed in Vermillion and mosquito populations will be monitored. If it becomes necessary, the city of Vermillion will fog for adult mosquitoes as they did last year.
The Clay County Extension Office will again be collecting dead birds for West Nile virus testing. We are only interested in crows, blue jays, magpies and any member of the raptor family (hawks, owls, etc.). These birds need to be in good condition for us to send them to the State Health Lab, so if you have a dead bird or questions, please give us a call.
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.
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.
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.
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.