Beyond slapping: Mosquito strategies

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mosquitoes are a fact of life during the summer, it’s pretty hard to completely avoid them.

But entomologist Jeff Hahn of the University of Minnesota has some suggestions that may help you reduce your mosquito problem:

* Cut weeds and tall grassy areas near your home to help reduce areas that can harbor mosquitoes.

* Leave yard lights off when possible to avoid attracting the pests unnecessarily. You can also try less attractive lights such as sodium lights, since fluorescent or incandescent lights are more attractive to mosquitoes.

* Make sure your window and door screens fit properly. Repair or replace any screens with holes or tears.

* Remove any containers that may hold water, such as old tires. If they can’t be removed, then drain them. If this isn’t possible, apply a small amount of vegetable oil on the water’s surface. This will suffocate any larvae in the water.

* Keep gutters clean so water doesn’t accumulate.

Don’t bother spraying them.

Hahn says spraying for mosquitoes by individual homeowners is not likely to be very effective or practical because it affects only small areas.

“Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and at dusk,” says Hahn. “Try to avoid going out at those times when possible. If you find yourself out when mosquitoes will be a problem, protect yourself by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.”

Spray yourself.

He also suggests using a repellent, and says DEET is the most effective. He says to apply DEET to clothes or skin, but only enough to lightly cover the desired areas.

Do not overapply repellents, he cautions. And don’t treat children with a product containing more than 15 percent DEET.

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