RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Protecting yourself from bug bites becomes more important as we enter the summer months where we spend more and more time outdoors.
Two of the biggest culprits we have to deal with around these parts are mosquitoes and ticks.
They’re more than just an annoyance – they carry disease.
The North Carolina Department Of Public Health tells CBS North Carolina there were more than 160 cases of mosquito-borne illnesses in the state last year.
The Department says although most of those illnesses were acquired out of state or out of the country, the threat from mosquitoes and ticks should not be ignored.
Finding mosquito breeding grounds around your yard isn’t that tough.
Standing water in gutters, drains, flowerpots and child’s toys are excellent spots for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Those eggs can hatch just 5 days after being deposited.
Decaying leaves, wood piles and areas under decks and open foundations also provide areas where mosquitoes can live.
Once you reduce the breeding ground for mosquitoes in your yard, you reduce their presence considerably.
Unlike birds, bees or other winged creatures – mosquitoes don’t fly very far.
“The bulk of them fly only 2 to 300 feet from where they were born,” Tom Ramoino of Mosquito Joe said.
Some folks contract with services like Mosquito Joe to keep their yards clear, but the treatments need to repeated monthly.
“We do everything at a minimal dosage because at the end of the day, we’re going after the nervous system of a mosquito,” says Ramoino.
The American Mosquito Control Association says to make sure that any company you hire uses only United States Environmental Protection Agency-approved chemicals.
Ramoino says his firm’s chemicals are all EPA approved.
The most common diseases carried by mosquitoes around here this part of North Carolina are Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile, and La Crosse Encephalitis.
For some homeowners, the yard treatments reduce the need for applying chemical repellents to their bodies, especially the bodies of their children.
“Now, we don’t even wear bug spray. We don’t use citronella candles,” says homeowner Lindsay Decker. “It’s safe for pets and kids.”
She says she first began yard treatments a year ago when she was pregnant with twins and was worried about the Zika virus.
“There was no question in my mind when I was pregnant we had to do it,” she said.
Ticks are another issue.
It takes about 36 hours for a virus from a tick to transfer to you.
So the sooner you remove a tick that’s bitten you – the better.
Currently, research is now underway around the country to find ways to neutralize the bacteria found inside mosquitoes which scientists believe will stop the transmission of disease from those insects.
“It does appear it’s something we may able to exploit it, something the virus is going to have a hard time getting around,” said Professor Richard Hardy of Indiana University, who is leasing the research effort.
“It’s kind of like having a vaccine but in a way it’s working at the level of the mosquito rather than the level of a human,” Hardy says.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes, you can click this link from the North Carolina Department of Public Health on mosquito-borne diseases and this link for ticks.
The North Carolina State Extension office link for more mosquito info.
Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.