Here's how to protect yourself from those pesky mosquitoes in the Southern Interior - InfoNews

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Here's how to protect yourself from those pesky mosquitoes in the Southern Interior

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June 14, 2018 - 8:00 PM

Each year once the snow melts and the sun comes out, mosquitoes hatch and begin flying their way around the Southern Interior.

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your property, according to one local mosquito expert, and it has nothing to do with home remedies or natural products.

Cheryl Phippen is an owner of BWP Consulting, which works with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District each year for mosquito control in Kamloops and the surrounding area. She says the best thing you can do to deter those nasty mosquito bites is simple — load on the bug spray.

“The biggest thing, and I would say probably my largest frustration, is that people don’t want to wear bug repellent," Phippen says. "Wear DEET, it works.”

DEET is the common ingredient found in insect repellent sprays like OFF! or Muskol, and it's one of the only ways you can avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Phippen adds that wearing light-coloured, loose fitting clothing makes you less attractive to the blood-thirsty insects.

Home remedies have long been around when it comes to repelling mosquitoes, but Phippen says they are all hoaxes. Things like citronella candles, vitamin B12, garlic and essential oils are also ineffective for fending off the insects.

When it comes to protecting your property, mosquito coils work but aren't the best for the environment, according to Phippen. She says properties that have large green space, trees and moisture are likely to have mosquitoes live longer in the area.

You can make sure your pool covers have no water on top, drain your bird bath and put screens over your rain barrels to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in these areas. Phippen says anything that holds water is susceptible to the insect.

WHAT IS MOSQUITO CONTROL?

Mosquito control usually starts when snow begins melting and waters rise, Phippen says, and the mosquito larvae are treated with a bacteria that kills them before they're born.

She uses machines that look like large leaf blowers that spit out crushed up corn cob that have the bacteria attached to them. The bacteria is environmentally-friendly, and only affects mosquitoes.

The company also uses helicopters to distribute the bacteria.

The Thompson-Nicola regional district's mosquito control program, which is very similar to the mosquito programs in the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen, targets mosquitoes that create a nuisance problem for humans.

Larvicide is used to kill off mosquito larvae, and a timely application of it is critical to controlling the population.

“It would truly be impossible to be a mosquito eradication program and we would never want to fully eradicate them," Phippen says.

That's because the insects play an important role in the environment. Mosquito larvae are eaten by all kinds of predators in the water including diving beetles and dragonflies, and when they're fully grown they're eaten by bats, spiders, and almost anything you can think of.

“They absolutely serve a purpose," she says.

Adult male mosquitoes actually don't bite people, but they are pollenators.

About 40 different species of mosquitoes are in the area, some that hibernate over the winter and come out right near the end of March, while others lay eggs and die. Phippen says the reason mosquitoes can be so aggressive with trying to bite people is because of their short life span.

Some species can live up to eight weeks, while others can die within 10 days if temperatures are warm enough.


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