As summer ramps up and the opportunities for enjoying the outdoors increase, it’s a good time to remember why mosquito control is so important.
Not only are these buzzing, blood-sucking pests annoying, but they’re also a notable public health concern, carrying and spreading dozens of different disease-causing microorganisms like viruses, parasites, and bacteria.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of mosquito control and how Terminix can help you find the best mosquito control for your backyard.
The Problem with Mosquitoes
In the Southeast, mosquito control is a key part of a safe and enjoyable summer. Nothing spoils a pleasant, sunny afternoon as reliably as mosquitoes.
But unlike other obnoxious outdoor obstacles like thunderstorms and fire ants, mosquitoes aren’t just an annoying nuisance—they can also be deadly.
Mosquitoes are commonly known to carry infectious viruses, parasites, and bacteria, which can cause a number of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Famous examples of mosquito-borne illness include the West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever, and, most recently, Zika.
According to leading mosquito experts, hundreds of millions of people are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses each year—though local U.S. cases number only in the thousands.
Even still, the public health threat is an ongoing concern, as recognized by local governments across the Southeast and federally by the CDC. Stateside, mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of numerous diseases, including West Nile virus, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus outbreaks.
And it’s not just humans who are at risk of mosquito-borne illness; our four-legged family members are vulnerable as well. Skeeters carry and spread the parasite responsible for dog heartworm disease, with more than 100,000 new infections reported each year in the US alone.
Common Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
West Nile Fever
First identified in 1937, West Nile fever is caused by a virus of the same name. Originally discovered in Uganda, the virus has been in North America since at least 1999. There is currently no known vaccine for West Nile fever, which can last weeks or months—and is occasionally fatal.
During the initial sickness, symptoms include high fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea, and other flu-like symptoms. Many complications associated with the initial fever make West Nile especially dangerous. In extreme cases, this can include seizures, neck stiffness, muscular weakness, and even paralysis.
Dengue fever outbreaks have been described throughout history as far back as 1779, and its viral nature and blood-borne transmission were understood by scientists by the early 1900s.
Dengue has a high rate of asymptomatic infection. Over three quarters of the people who are infected never develop symptoms. For the unlucky ones that do, the experience is unpleasant, itchy, and sometimes fatal.
People infected with dengue spend up to a week battling fevers, headaches, body aches, rashes, and a persistent itching sensation.
In the most extreme cases, dengue fever can develop into one of two serious blood conditions, causing those afflicted to hemorrhaging excessively or fall into a blood-pressure related shock.
This multisyllabic infection was first identified in Tanzania in the early 1950s. The unique name derives from the local Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted,” in reference to the sometimes permanent joint swelling and pain that are associated with the sickness.
Once bitten, the infection develops within 12 days.
After an intense initial sickness that includes fever, intense joint pain, swollen joints, and a bumpy red rash, Chikungunya can continue to persist for many months. Some patients experience lingering arthritis-like symptoms and other joint ailments for years afterwards.
The infection can even be fatal—approximately one in every thousand infected risk dying.
Zika fever is an infectious disease caused by the Zika virus. People bitten by mosquitoes carrying the virus develop a fever, red eyes, and rashes, and experience joint pain and headaches. Symptoms last less than a week and are comparatively mild alongside the other illnesses in this blog.
The biggest concern with Zika is actually the complications it brings with it. One, called Guillain-Barré syndrome, is a rapid-onset muscular disorder that can cause paralysis.
Pregnant women are also uniquely at risk from Zika. Infections during pregnancy have been shown to cause issues during development that are debilitating, even fatal.
Reducing the Risk
Mosquitoes are often the only pathway for these diseases to spread between humans since the diseases aren’t typically contagious on their own. The virus that causes West Nile fever, for example, can’t be spread from one sick person to a healthy one, except for with the help of the mosquito.
All this is to say: keeping mosquitoes in check isn’t just a good idea for your summer barbecues, it’s also a great way to help protect your family and pets, your neighbors, and your community as a whole. The fight against mosquito-borne illnesses begins at home with backyard mosquito control.
While Terminix can’t guarantee prevention of these diseases through mosquito control, we do recommend taking the proactive measures below to reduce the risk.
Backyard Mosquito Control Can Help
If you’re looking to do everything you can to keep yourself and your family protected from mosquitoes and associated health concerns, having a strong protection plan in place is critical. Oftentimes, that starts with calling in the experts to provide professional mosquito treatment services.
These tactics aim to combat mosquito-borne illness through population control. The thinking being: a reduced mosquito mosquito population means less chances of bites and thus less opportunity for the disease to spread.
With seasonal protection plans, Terminix helps protect families by treating yards for mosquitoes and discouraging mosquito-supporting conditions around homes and lawns. By doing so, Terminix is able to cut back the mosquito population, making it easier for you and your family to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about bug bites.
These mosquito treatments are a great way to address existing mosquito populations and help make the surrounding outdoors safer in the short term. For even more effective mosquito control, our skeeter-swatting experts strongly recommend taking a proactive approach as well.
Top Backyard Mosquito Control Tips From Terminix
In addition to professional backyard mosquito control services, there are a number of DIY tactics and mosquito tips you can employ that are surprisingly effective.
For instance, spending a few minutes after a rainstorm to make sure water hasn’t collected in any ruts, outdoor furniture, lawn ornaments, or other low-lying areas is an easy way to disrupt mosquito populations because you’d be removing potential breeding and hatching sites.
Homeowners can also discourage mosquitoes by keeping a trim and tidy yard, not letting rubbish and yard waste pile up, and avoiding mulch and pine layers thicker than one inch. You might even win yard of the month along the way!
For even more protection from mosquitoes, spraying repellents with at least 20% DEET is recommended. Light colored clothing and outdoor fans are also advantageous.
Looking to shoo skeeters out of your yard? Our mosquito control blog and pest library are great resources for even more information.
Still, even with all of these precautions taken, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to backyard mosquito control. Mosquitoes reproduce relatively quickly and can move about easily through the air. If mosquitoes are in the area, there’s always the potential for them to fly back into your backyard.
In many ways, neighborhood or community involvement make for the best mosquito control—especially if you’re in one of the top mosquito cities. For more info on neighborhood mosquito control, be sure to check out the resources on our blog.
See Ya, Skeeters! Mosquito Control From Terminix
If you’re ready to help kick mosquito-borne illnesses to the curb—and maybe enjoy better backyard barbecues in the process—don’t hesitate to call your local Terminix branch.
Every year, countless homeowners trust Terminix for the very best mosquito control and prevention. Our friendly, local technicians are all expertly trained, and have been helping keep families safe in the Southeast for over 75 years now.
Call your local Terminix office to learn more about seasonal mosquito protection plans today.