Into The Outdoors 7/15/14

The focus of this week’s column is going to be a bit on the nasty side. It is time, I think, for a look at perhaps the most useless creature on the earth, the mosquito. Most of us are aware of the fact that mosquitoes carry disease, but West Nile virus is sometimes overlooked. While mosquito bites are, by their very nature, itchy and irritating, for some people, being bitten by a skeeter carrying West Nile can be a serious matter indeed.
People infected with this virus may have no symptoms at all, or very mild ones such as fever, aches, rash or swollen lymph glands. In some cases, though, symptoms can include high fever, coma, convulsions, neurological damage and even death. In other words, the disease is not something to be taken lightly. There is no cure for the condition, although medical measures can be taken to help afflicted patients.
Mosquitoes pick up the disease by biting infected birds. After a short time, they can transmit the virus to animals and humans.
A major reason for the increase in the number of mosquitoes is the decline in the bat population, due to white nose syndrome. As near as I can recall, I have not seen even one bat this spring and summer. Bats eat mosquitoes by the thousands, so, naturally, when the bat population is down, the skeeter population goes up.
It is interesting to note that only female mosquitoes bite, as they need a blood meal before laying their eggs, which can amount to two to three thousand in a lifetime. Also, mosquito biting increases five-hundred times when there is a full moon. Surprisingly, you are more likely to be bitten if you eat bananas.
Obviously, the best way to avoid West Nile is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in the first place. There are many effective repellants on the market, many of which contain DEET, a highly effective product. Although DEET certainly works, much has been written about potentially negative effects of the chemical. There are a number of non DEET repellants on the market, but the only one I have found to be effective is a product called “No Bite Me,” marketed by SallyAnder Soaps. For whatever reason, it will actually turn bugs around in mid air, and it smells good to boot. It is not cheap, but a little bit goes a long way.
The fact of the matter is that many mosquito bites take place in and around the home. A few simple precautions can drastically reduce or eliminate the pests. In order to reproduce, the bugs need standing water in which to lay their eggs. Bird baths and kiddie pools, when neglected, provide excellent breeding grounds. One of the most common is old tires which become filled with rain water. Most of us know how hard it can be to get water out of a tire. Luckily, there are products on the market which kill the eggs and larvae before they can become mature, biting, disease spreading adult mosquitoes. One should be constantly on the lookout for standing water, and dump it out. A few simple precautions can really go a long way. Nobody likes mosquitoes, and it behooves all of us to do all that we can to prevent their spread.
On another front, as of this writing, the local fishing scene is nothing short of bleak, at least for me. Although the Allegheny’s water level is dropping, it is still muddy, and more rain is in the forecast. By this time in most years, I would have many outings under my belt, but not this year, and the ones I have have been much less than great. Let’s hope that things improve soon.

About us | Advertise | Help | Privacy Policy | Subscriptions, RSS © 2009 The Progress News . All Rights Reserved .