After yet another warm winter in South Carolina, spring is upon us — and so is mosquito season.
As you and your family head outside, remember that now is the time to begin taking action to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquitoes — even if mosquitoes are the unofficial state bird!
Mosquitoes can spread diseases
South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquitoes. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time has faced this itch-causing menace on an almost daily basis during the spring, summer and fall. Most of the time, we are only concerned with the pain from the mosquito’s bite, but we also need to be aware that mosquitoes can spread diseases that may result in illness.
Some mosquitoes in South Carolina have been known to carry West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and other viruses or parasites. Since the beginning of 2016, there has been heightened concern over the Zika virus. Fortunately, there have been no confirmed local Zika cases caused by South Carolina mosquitoes. All known cases of Zika in our state, to date, have been travel or sexual contact related.
You can help control the mosquito population
It is critical that we all join forces and do our part to combat the threat of mosquito-borne viruses and parasites. We must be vigilant about controlling the mosquito population in our own yards and communities while protecting ourselves from bites. You can begin by removing, regularly emptying or filling in any objects in your yard or home that might hold water in order to eliminate breeding sites. When searching for mosquito breeding spots on your property, leave no stone unturned.
To help reduce mosquito populations on your property:
- Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes.
- Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
- Regularly clean out rain gutters and downspouts.
- Empty and turn over containers that hold water, such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheelbarrows, old appliances, tarps used to cover grills or swimming pools, etc. Don’t forget to scrub containers to remove any mosquito eggs that remain attached to the walls (Tip, Toss, Turn and Scrub!).
- Make sure that all permanent water containers — such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks and cesspools — are tightly covered and insect-proof.
- Change the water in bird baths and empty and clean out children’s wading pools at least once a week.
- Clean out and change the water in your pet’s water bowl or trough every day.
- Clean out larger livestock troughs weekly.
- Cover trash containers and garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
- Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.
When outside, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts (the lighter in color, the better). You may also choose to apply a mosquito repellent — either a spray or wipe — per manufacturer instructions to help shield you. Avoid wearing perfume or scented products. Also, keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night. Ensure all of your windows and doors have intact screens and seal properly.
Visit DHEC’s mosquito information page for additional information about protecting yourself from mosquito bites, eliminating breeding areas, local mosquito control and more.