CHARLOTTE, NC — Time to stock up on the mosquito repellant and get out your bug zapper. When it comes to hot spots for mosquitoes, the Charlotte metro area is rated as one of the worst in the country, according to pest control company Orkin’s list of Top 50 Mosquito Cities. The top three cities on the itchy, swatting list are Atlanta, Washington, DC and Chicago.
Charlotte was ranked the No. 9 city for mosquitoes and Raleigh was ranked No. 17.
The winged blood-suckers become more active as temperatures rise, with mosquito season often ranging from April to October. Atlanta-based Orkin has released its top 50 mosquito cities. Must of the cities on the list are in the Mid-Atlantic or Southeast states, but chilly Chicago and New York are also in the top five.
Besides making life outdoors uncomfortable, mosquitoes are one of the world’s most dangerous pests, affecting humans and animals alike. Internationally, they can transmit diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever through their bites. In the United States, mosquitoes are known to transmit West Nile virus and other illnesses that can cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
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Residents should take steps to guard against Zika transmission given the link between Zika infection of pregnant women and the occurrence of birth defects in their babies. According to the CDC, Zika virus is chiefly spread through mosquito bites.
“Mosquitoes are a public health threat,” said Orkin entomologist Mark Beavers, Ph.D. “Zika virus is currently one of the most notable illnesses that can be spread by mosquitoes, and it will likely be a problem again this year, especially in areas where the type of mosquito that can carry the virus thrives.”
The cities are ranked by the number of residential and commercial mosquito treatments the company performed from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.
Atlanta Washington, D.C. (+1) Chicago (-1) New York (+1) Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (+8) Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas Houston (+5) Detroit (-4) Charlotte, N.C. (-1) Nashville, Tenn. (-3) Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (+11) Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla. (+11) Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va. (+1) Memphis, Tenn. (-3) Mobile-Pensacola, Fla. (+11) West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla. (+15) Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (-8) Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich. (-3) Boston (-9) Phoenix, Ariz.
Conventional mosquito repellents containing higher concentrations (23.8%) of DEET or picaridin offer the best protection, says WebMD. The EPA says mosquito repellents that contain DEET or picaridin are safe for adults and children over the age of 2 months, when used correctly.
But there are other options that are deemed “natural” because they are derived from natural materials such as plants. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural, plant-based oil that prevents mosquito bitesas products that contain lower concentrations (6.65%) of DEET.
Citronella oil, popular in candles, hasn’t been proven effective at actually keeping the insects away, says the website, and the same is true for garlic ingested to ward off mosquitoes.
Tips from Maryland’s Bug Guy blog to avoid mosquito bites:
Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin before you go outdoors. He recommends any brand that contains up to 30 percent DEET. Place a small fan on your patio if you eat outdoors. The light breeze created by the fan will greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes flying and biting. Eliminate standing water by cleaning your gutters, dumping your birdbath twice a week, turning over your wheelbarrow, emptying the wading pool, and getting rid of water-filled containers. Add a soil microbe known as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a.k.a. Bti, to an aquatic water garden or standing water on your property that could breed mosquitoes. The microbe comes in doughnut-shaped tablets that can be placed in water to kill mosquito larvae.
The CDC offers these tips to prevent the spread of the disease:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Eliminate Mosquito-Friendly Conditions in and Around Your Yard
Remove standing water buckets, toys and other containers, as mosquitoes can breed in just an inch of standing water. Change water weekly in bird baths, fountains, potted plants and any containers that hold standing water. Keep pool water treated and circulating. Regularly clean gutters so water doesn’t pool. Trim shrubbery, as adult mosquitoes like to rest in dark areas with high humidity, such as under the leaves of lush vegetation.
Eliminate Entry Points
Repair and use window and door screens to help prevent entry. Close gaps around windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed
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