MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Outdoor summer fun can quickly be ruined by blood-sucking mosquitoes, but there are simple things you can do to keep them away.
The Shelby County Health Department says the first place to start is around your home. Get rid of anything outside that collects water.
“If you have something as simple as a flower pot that has been sitting in your yard you are not using it always go ahead and tip it, toss it,” said Health Administrator Kasia Smith-Alexander. “Make sure the water is out of it and make sure you don’t leave it like this because again what can happen a small amount of water can sit, and mosquitoes can then come.”
Even a small leaf or bottle cap can collect water and hold larvae. The health department says this time of year, rake up any leaves in your yard and if you keep water in a bowl for your pets, make sure you rinse it often.
And if you have a pond or fountain, you can add mosquito-killing fish to the water. The tiny Gambusia fish can each eat up to 300 mosquito larvae a day, and the Shelby County Health Department gives them away.
“So that is a natural, free way of ensuring you don’t have mosquito larvae in the fountain, pond, or anything like that,” Smith-Alexander said.
Some studies show certain blood types, wearing darker clothing, and even being pregnant make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Still, entomologists say the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a mosquito snack is to wear long sleeves, repellant with DEET, and stay inside when mosquitoes are most active.
“These mosquitoes that carry West Nile are typically active around dusk,” said Entomologist Cheryl Clausel. “So, around the time it’s getting nice and cool outside, everybody wants to get out that’s when they are going to be active in biting.”
Every week, the Shelby County Health Department sets around 163 traps specifically designed to attract mosquitoes that transmit the West Nile Virus. The traps allow them to know how many mosquitoes are in the area and how many carry the virus.
“So, we set these traps typically in the afternoon and they are collected the following morning,” said Clausel.
Mosquito fish are available free of charge at the Vector Control Office at 1826 Sycamore View Road from April to October. For information, click here.