Even though summer is winding down, it’s still important to defend yourself and your family against mosquito bites. Mosquitos are more than annoying: they can carry and transmit diseases to people such as La Crosse encephalitis, West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. These mosquito-borne diseases are most common in late summer and early fall.

Protect yourself from mosquitos by wearing insect repellant. When used as directed, insect repellent is the best way to guard against from mosquito bites, and it is safe even for children and pregnant women. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer lasting protection.

When the weather permits, limit your exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, socks and hats. Consider permethrin-treated clothes and outdoor gear, which contain an insecticide/repellant that lasts through multiple washings.

To keep mosquitos out of your home, make sure screens on windows and doors are in good repair and use them consistently.

You can also take action to eliminate the source of the mosquitos. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, so the best way to control a mosquito problem is to locate and remove the standing water source. Most adult mosquitoes only live about 2-3 weeks. Once the breeding source has been eliminated, it is only a matter of time before the adult mosquitoes die.

Mosquito breeding sources can include anything that can hold one-quarter of an inch of water. Eliminate them by regularly emptying, inverting, or removing the source. Empty standing water from containers. Keep wading pools empty and stored on their side when they aren’t being used. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls every three or four days. Keep gutters clean and in good repair. Repair leaky outdoor faucets. Fill in potholes that can hold water.

Mosquitos can also breed in natural sources such as non-flowing storm water ditches, puddles, ponds that do not contain fish and even water-filled holes in trees. These areas can be controlled with pesticides that kill the mosquito larva.

For more information about controlling mosquitos on your property, call Transylvania Public Health’s Environmental Health Program at (828) 884-3139.