Everyone knows that familiar buzzing sound. Everyone knows that awful itch that only gets better for like a second before it comes back even worse.

MOSQUITOES: the bane of every summer.

While we might not like mosquitoes, they are actually a lot more than just annoying. They are actually disease spreaders. That’s right, they can get you sick.

Mosquitoes spread disease

In some parts of the world, mosquitoes are a killer and spread deadly diseases like malaria. Luckily, that is not much of a concern in the United States, but there are serious diseases that mosquitoes spread right here in our backyard.

The Health Department is especially concerned about West Nile Virus. Some people who are infected with West Nile Virus can develop a fever and other symptoms. A small number of people who get symptoms can develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

There is no vaccine for West Nile Virus, so the best way to avoid this disease is to not get bitten by a mosquito that has it.

Stop getting bitten

The best way to keep mosquitoes away is to wear insect repellent. The insect repellent should contain one of the following ingredients:

  • DEET (20% or higher)
  • Picaridin
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus / PMD
  • IR3535

When going out in the daytime, sunscreen should be applied first, followed by repellent. Adults should apply repellent to children’s skin.

You can also spray clothes you wear outdoors with permethrin. This protection can last on your clothes even through the washing machine. Don’t apply this type of repellent to skin or under clothing, though. If it’s not too hot, try to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

Stop breeding mosquitoes

Mosquitoes breed in still, standing water. That means that mosquitoes lay their eggs in puddles that form after it rains, or water sloshes out of a pool, or runs out of a hose. Put simply, if you don’t want mosquitoes in your backyard, make sure you dump out standing water. Here’s more tips to help get rid of them:

  • At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, bird baths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans, and any other items outside your home.
  • Remove unused tires, and other items that could collect water.
  • Empty and store kiddie pools on their side.
  • Keep your swimming pool properly filtered and chemically treated, so it stays clean.
  • Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
  • Secure screens tightly on garden rain barrels.
  • Aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.
  • Check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
  • For standing water you cannot dump drop in a “mosquito dunk” every 30 days during mosquito season to kill the larvae. These are available at most hardware stores.

If mosquitoes seem especially bad in your neighborhood, you can call the Health Department’s Mosquito Complaint hotline at 215-685-9000 and we’ll come out and try to help.