Mosquito populations large after summer monsoons

Itching? Getting bitten? You’re not the only one. Mosquitos have been breeding in the standing water after this year’s active and long monsoon season, which soaked the Parker area all summer.

CRIT has been fogging with insecticide in the valley, which may help with mosquitos. But, unlike Texas, which is suffering with its worst West Nile virus outbreak in years, Arizona has not had a spike in the virus. This is despite the high populations of mosquitos prompting unusually high volumes of calls to county health departments around the state.

Mosquitos will die out as the desert dries again. Until then, here’s what you can do (via Mosquito World):

Start by cleaning up any containers left lying around the yard. Mosquitos can breed in as little as one inch of water. Put away buckets, pick up toys, and dump any pet dishes kept outside. If the dog must have a water dish in the backyard, made sure the water is changed daily. Other containers might need to stay outside, as well. Punch holes in them so water drains.

Cut the grass and trim the bushes. During the day, mosquitoes like to rest in tall grass or among shrubs in a moist, shady spot. Keeping the grass short deprives them of a resting place. Also, rake up any fallen leaves. An overturned leaf can hold enough water for a mosquito’s eggs, and also give them a place to wait out the day.

Check the rain gutters. They will often become plugged by leaves, blown branches, or other debris, and water will accumulate instead of draining out. Clean them out regularly, especially during the summer. If water is left standing in the gutters more than a week, mosquitoes will lay eggs in them.

Fill in any low-lying areas in the yard. These depressions can hold water after a rain or when the lawn is watered. Without proper drainage, the water will stay for days, allowing mosquitoes a chance to breed. Add dirt and sod, or install a drainage system.

Keep the water in the pool clean and chlorinated. Drain and cover it when it’s not in use, and the same goes for wading or collapsible pools. Make sure any decorative items, such as birdbaths or ponds, get fresh water at least once a week. Stock the pond with fish that will eat mosquito larvae.

If they bother you enough, you and your neighbors may want to go in on one of THESE. A study found they were able to attract and kill 3000 mosquitos and all but wipe out a local population.

You’re more likely to get bitten if you have Type O blood, or if you are retaining more heat (perhaps by wearing dark colors). If you do get bitten, here’s what to do (via the Mayo Clinic):

Topical treatments. If you scratch mosquito bites, you could break your skin, which may lead to a bacterial infection in your skin (cellulitis). Instead of scratching, try applying a hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a paste. To make a paste, take about 1 teaspoon (about 5 milliliters) of water and mix with an equal volume of dry meat tenderizer. Apply several times a day until your symptoms subside. A cold pack or baggie filled with crushed ice may help, too.

Oral antihistamines. For stronger reactions, taking an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy), chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton, Actifed), loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) may ease your body’s response.