Source: NorthFulton.com

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July rains bring insect pains
Asian tiger mosquito population gets boost

by Christopher Freiberg

July 10, 2013

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The recent downpours this summer have plagued communities with millions and millions of tiny, biting pests — mosquitoes.

Mosquito populations have been on the rise lately, and Joe Conlon, technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association says it is due to breeding habitats from the rain.

"When you have really heavy rains, at first it destroys habitat," Conlon said. "But as the rain recedes, it leaves pockets of water where mosquitoes can breed."

The breeding grounds can be widespread and close-to-home, Conlon said, ranging from depressions in the ground to tree holes and even discarded containers such as bottle caps.

William Tyson, coordinator for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said stagnant water less than an inch deep will support mosquito growth.

"Look for empty clogged gutters, leaf-filled drains, drain outlets from air-conditioners, plastic wading pools, dog dishes and potted plant saucers," Tyson said. "The goal is to eliminate as many sources of standing water as possible."

Tyson's proposed method to eliminating the breeding grounds involves draining pools of water. Tougher spots that cannot be drained such as bird baths can be handled with "mosquito dunks"— chemical treatments that eradicate the bug at its larval stage.

Once the mosquitos take flight, however, homeowners can turn to insecticides and aerosol foggers to tackle their bug problem, Tyson said.

Insecticides (ideally those registered by the Environmental Protection Agency) are most effective when dispersed uniformly and foggers provide a quick, but temporary solution.

"By reducing breeding sites and taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and the number of mosquito bites on you," Tyson said.

As these household, insect-repellent measures fend off the average pest, one species found increasingly prevalent in Georgia seems to put up more of a fight.

The Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, is a potentially harmful mosquito that Conlon said is the primary pest mosquito in many places on the east coast.

"What's particularly pernicious about it is that standard mosquito control practice is generally not effective," Conlon said. "It likes to feeds on the lower limbs between the knee and ankle and feeds all day."

Conlon says because sprays are generally done at night and target mosquitoes when they are in flight, these pesky day-flyers evade pesticides by hiding under leaves and chairs when it is dark.

"If you go out on your porch in the morning to have a cup of coffee and you come in with bites all over your leg it's from this mosquito," he said.

The Asian tiger has not been implicated in any disease transmission in the U.S., Conlon says, but in the lab, it was found capable to carry five different mosquito-borne viruses.

Heavy rains may bring heavy mosquito presence here in Forsyth County, but with the right tools and methods, Forsyth County homeowners can reclaim their territories.

"Trying to get rid of this mosquito is solely in the hands of homeowners and property owners," Conlon said.