At least 61 different species of mosquitoes exist in South Carolina.
Mosquitoes are two-winged insects closely related to flies like gnats and no-see-ums. The name mosquito actually means “little fly.”
Only female mosquitoes bite. To get the nutrients they need to develop eggs, they feed on blood from humans and other animals. Mosquitoes find us through the carbon dioxide we breathe out, lactic acid and other components in our sweat, scents such as perfume, hair spray and deodorant, and dark-colored clothing. Some kinds of mosquitoes bite at any time of the day, especially in the shade, while others bite at dawn, dusk, twilight or night.
All mosquitoes hatch from eggs and the immature stages develop in water, but adult mosquitoes fly free on land.
Because mosquitoes in South Carolina may carry West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis, it’s important to control the mosquito population in our yards and communities, monitor for diseases carried by mosquitoes, and protect ourselves from mosquito bites
The City of Aiken has an active ongoing program to help control mosquito populations throughout the City. Throughout the year Public Services crew members provide ditch maintenance services which reduces the amount of standing water available to mosquitoes for egg laying and maturing. This involves no chemicals and is considered one of the more permanent forms of mosquito control.
During the times when mosquito activity is at it’s highest our crew will apply pesticides from machines mounted in pickup trucks in areas of the City where there are large populations of adult mosquitoes. This activity, known as adulticiding, is probably the most well-known activity by the public, and the one that receives the most notoriety and attention from the public. It is, however, a late-stage effort to control adult mosquitoes that somehow manage to escape the previous larviciding efforts.
Mosquito control must be a shared responsibility in order for abatement to be successful. There are some things you need to do around your own home or business to reduce the mosquito population and eliminate their breeding sites. Take a survey of your own property to identify and eliminate the source of the mosquitoes. Here are several examples of things you can look for. Keep in mind that any source of standing or stagnant water can be a potential breeding location.
- Repair leaky plumbing, outdoor faucets, sprinklers, and septic systems.
- Change water in birdbaths, wading pools, pet dishes, and plant drip trays at least once every 2 days.
- Dispose of any items that may hold water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. These include old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, and other containers that can hold water. If they must be stored make sure they are covered or turned over to where water cannot collect in them.
- Remove leaves and debris from rain gutters. The leaves hold water in the gutter and are a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Keep grass cut short and shrubs well trimmed.
- Keep backyard swimming pools well cared for.
- Irrigate lawns carefully to prevent over watering which can cause water to stand for several days.
- Survey your property for areas that “hold” water and do not drain well.
- Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito eating fish.
- Remember that not all bodies of water are breeding ground for mosquitoes. Flowing creeks and waterways generally do not contain mosquito larvae.
- Use larvicide in areas of standing water. Bacillus thuringiensis israelenis (Bti) is a biological larvicide control used to treat areas of standing water. It is used to eliminate the mosquito larva but will not kill the adult mosquito. Bti comes in tablets or “donut” shaped discs and is available at most home improvement or feed stores. Citizens may actively treat areas of stagnant water on their own property, not to include creeks and other protected waterways.
The Four D's
There are some things you and your family can do for your own personal protection. To reduce the risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes remember the Four D’s:
- DUSK to DAWN – is the timeframe when mosquitoes, likely to carry infection, are most active. Stay indoors from dusk to dawn.
- DRAIN – standing water in your yard and neighborhood. Old tires, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.
- DRESS – in light colored long sleeves and pants when you are outside, especially in mosquito infested areas.
- DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) – if you are going to be outside when mosquitoes are most active, make sure you apply insect repellant that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent when outdoors. For more information about this and other chemicals please see the SC DHEC webpage entitled “Mosquitoes – Protecting Yourself” by clicking here.
Every mosquito bite does not cause West Nile Virus. Very few mosquitoes carry the virus and less than 1% of the bites that do have the virus actually cause serious illness. For more information on the West Nile Virus in South Carolina please visit the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Mosquitoes in South Carolina web page by clicking here.