Here's the scoop on how to turn your home into an anti-mosquito fortress.
It’s that time of year--mosquito season. This year, people in the United States are extra skittish with news that the Zika virus is quickly spreading through the Americas. Not to mention the other mosquito-borne diseases.
On Tuesday the Texas Department of State Health Services announced a locally transmitted case of the debilitating disease chikungunya, which add to the mosquito angst. While West Nile Virus remains a problem in many states.
So what can you do to help lock-down your yard against this annoying and potentially dangerous insects?
First things first.
The most critical first step is to get rid of mosquito-breeding sites in your yard. A mosquito only needs a tiny bottle cap-size pool of water to lay up to 200 eggs, which is why removing standing water is critical.
Here’s a list of things you need to do to avoid standing water:
Be sure to scrub.
Even after dumping the water out of buckets or pots, eggs can remain stuck to the sides and survive for months. Be sure to scrub right above the water line, which is where the mosquitoes lay their eggs. That way they will fall on the ground. They can't hatch in the grass.
Keep your grass and foliage short.
Remember that mosquitoes like to hide in heavy foliage to avoid the sun. Long grass and dense foliage gives them more places to hide.
Be skeptical of backyard sprays.
Currently, there it no retail product which is been proven to repel mosquitoes effectively. Many yard sprays are made with what are called exempt pesticides, which means they have not been reviewed by the EPA for safety. Be sure you read the label and, if you still want to buy or try yard sprays, look for one with an EPA registration number.
Bug zappers and trappers don't do a lot.
Traps and zappers will kill a few mosquitoes. But they don't significantly reduce the population in your back yard.
Candles aren't strong enough.
While citronella oil candles and torches are very popular they don't do a lot. They will repel mosquitoes if you are right in the midst of their scent, but if you are sitting at a table with a candle burning your ankles are far enough away from the candle to be immune from their benefits. So you will likely still get some bites. If you're going to use candles be sure you're using other methods as well.
Birds or bats are good for the ecosystem.
While birds and bats are part of many backyard ecosystems, mosquitoes only make up 1% of their diet. So don't rely on them for mosquito control.
Keep yourself covered.
Be sure you and your family wear light colored clothing that keeps your arms and legs covered. Mosquitoes prefer to bite lower extremities. So be sure your legs and ankles are covered.
Not all repellents are created equal.
You should also use repellents with around 20 to 30% DEET or ingredients like picaridin, oil-of-lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane–diol or IR3535.
Don’t waste money on wristbands.
Research has shown that these wristbands are pretty much are worthless in the fight against mosquitoes. All you're doing is protecting your wrist.
Get your neighbors on the same team.
While you can take all of these steps, if your neighbors are waging the same war you could pay the price. Standing water in a neighbors yard could significantly increase the population in your yard. So work together and encourage your neighbors to also adopt mosquito control habits to keep the community safe.
Get professionals involved.
While you can certainly decrease your mosquito exposure and the number of bites you'll receive by following these steps, the only way to reduce the mosquito population in your yard up to 95% is to call in the professionals. Mosquito Squad is America's first mosquito-focused pest control company. Our team of professionals are experts in killing mosquitoes. That's our specialty. Call or fill out our free quote form to get a no obligation estimate so you can enjoy your yard without the nuisance and dangers of mosquitoes.
Much like mosquito repellent for the yard, not all mosquito repellents for the body are made with the same ingredients. Consumer Reports completed a series of tests to find the most effective mosquito repellents on the market. They specifically tested products containing deet or IR3535 (both ingredients proven to repel) as well as two plantlike ingredients: lemon eucalyptus and picaridin.
The no. 1 most effective mosquito repellent against the Aedes mosquito in their test (the mosquito who is the most aggressive toward humans and carries Zika virus) is Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin. Sawyer’s contains 20 percent picaridin (a plant based repellent) and kept mosquitoes from biting for about 8 hours. Compared to deet formulas, Sawyer’s also kept ticks at bay.
Tips on how to apply mosquito repellent safely/effectively:
Mosquito Squad of San Antonio provides at-home protection from mosquitoes. The right kind of mosquito control for your yard can eliminate up to 95% of mosquitoes around your home. Contact us for a free no obligation estimate and start protecting your family and pets from mosquitoes today.
Read Consumer Reports’ full article, here.
Want more info on applying insect repellents? We recommend this article from Huffington Post.
Worried and pondering how to protect your baby from mosquitoes? As you know, mosquitoes are not just annoying but they pose risks and, for babies, these risks increase as their immune systems aren't as strong as adults. In addition to mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and malaria, which will affect people of any age, infants are also vulnerable to Skeeter Syndrome, an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva that causes bites to swell significantly.
If you're concerned about how to keep your baby safe from dangerous mosquitoes and able to enjoy the outdoors, follow the following tips.
1. Use protective clothing
Dress yourself and your baby in loose, long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and pants. If you keep as much of your baby’s skin covered as possible it will give the mosquitoes less area to land and bite. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing so that's why the loose-fit is important. Also be sure your baby is wearing closed-toe shoes or socks. Lightweight material will keep your baby from overheating on hot summer days.
2. Use age-appropriate repellent
For babies younger than two months old, most sources say to not use repellent, especially if it contains DEET. For babies older than two months, it’s acceptable to use repellent, but look for low concentrations of DEET or other active chemicals. Follow CDC recommendations when choosing a repellent. If you’d prefer not to use a chemical-based repellent, look for a natural repellent that works for your baby, or make your own using essential oils.
Regardless of what type of repellent you use, be careful when applying it. Don’t spray directly onto your baby’s skin—instead, spray some on your fingers and then apply. Avoid the eyes, mouth, ears, and open wounds, plus don’t put repellent on your baby’s hands, to prevent ingestion.
3. Try screens or mosquito nets
When you go outside, use a mosquito net over your baby’s carrier, stroller, or playpen. You can find a variety of options online, like this one by Dreambaby. Just be sure the netting mesh is small enough that mosquitoes can’t sneak through, and look for an elastic hem to hold the net in place.
4. Use fans where possible
If you’re staying in one place while you’re outdoors, like in your garden or on your patio, set up fans to circulate the air around your baby. Mosquitoes are not strong flyers, so the breeze created by fans can prevent the insects from buzzing near you and your little one.
5. Spray yourself
If you’re holding your baby close to you in a carrier or wrap, wearing insect repellent on your own body may help deter mosquitoes from your baby as well.
6. Avoid peak hours
Whenever possible, try to stay indoors during peak feeding hours. Dawn and dusk are when many mosquito species are most active, so you’re more likely to get bitten during these windows.
7. Tackle mosquito populations in your backyard
Mosquito populations hanging around your home can make it unbearable to go outside, even with the above precautions. If you have a mosquito problem, it’s important to take care of it on a larger scale, instead of only relying on repellents or other preventative methods.
Be sure to remove standing water around your property to eliminate breeding grounds, and try adding mosquito-repelling plants to your garden. For effective mosquito control options that avoid smearing repellents on your body, contact Mosquito Squad of San Antonio to learn more about our treatment options.
Don’t let your baby be bitten up by mosquitoes! Fight the bite and keep baby and your entire family protected from these pesky pests all season long.
“Five of the six plant-based repellents we tested—All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor, Burt’s Bees Herbal, California Baby Natural Bug Blend, Cutter Natural, and EcoSmart Organic—lasted one hour or less against Aedes mosquitoes, the kind that can spread Zika. (Note that despite its name, EcoSmart Organic does not contain certified organic ingredients or bear the Department of Agriculture’s organic seal.)
Daniel Fabricant, the executive director and CEO of the National Products Association, a trade group, says there is variation in the effectiveness of natural insect repellents, just as there are for other kinds of repellents.
In fact, Consumer Reports did identify one mosquito repellent that uses a natural plant oil as its active ingredient that worked well: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, 30 percent (shown above). This insect repellent warded off Aedes mosquitoes, Culex mosquitoes (which can spread West Nile), and ticks (which can spread Lyme) for at least 7 hours.
Other Safe and Effective Repellents
Several other repellents also did well in our tests: Those with 20 percent picaridin (a synthetic compound resembling a chemical in the black pepper plant), including Sawyer Picardin and Natrapel 8 Hour; and those with 15 to 30 percent deet, including Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula, Repel Scented Family (15 percent deet), and Off! Deepwoods VIII (25 percent deet).
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection says that all of those ingredients—including deet—are safe, even if you’re pregnant, provided you use them properly.
How to Use Repellents Safely
All repellents can cause side effects, especially if you apply too much of it or too often. For example, they can all cause rashes and skin irritation. In addition, deet might cause disorientation, particularly in high concentrations, which is why we don’t recommend repellents that are more than 30 percent deet.
So use all repellents with care. Here’s how:
Consumer Reports also warned that the wristband insect repellents aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They tested the Coleman Naturals Insect Repellent Snap Band and the Super Band Wristband and found that neither one prevented mosquitoes from biting.
It’s important to find the repellent that works best for you, but you shouldn’t forget about our other mosquito control tips that you can implement at home to keep mosquitoes away.
Contact San Antonio Mosquito Squad today for a free quote on a treatment that will have a lasting effect in your backyard, keeping the bugs at bay while reducing or negating the need to use spray-on repellents. Why spray yourself? Treat your yard instead!
May is National Pet Month to celebrate the over 200 million pets in America. What better way to celebrate our furry friends than to keep the safe and healthy.
Many people moving to South Texas from other parts of the country are not aware that heartworm is a serious threat to the lives of many mammals in this area.
Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease transmitted from animal to animal by the mosquitoes. Dogs and cats of any breed and age as well as other mammals including wolves, ferrets and foxes are all susceptible to the illness.
Heartworm disease is difficult to cure but easy to prevent and there are many easy to administer and inexpensive products on the market. Today, there are also ways to prevent heartworm in your pet naturally with products proven to be safe and just as effective. It only takes one bite from an infected female mosquito for the disease to spread, so if you are an animal owner it is important to understand and act to prevent heartworm in your pet.
So what exactly is heartworm?
Heartworm is a naturally acquired infection found worldwide, with cases reported in all 50 states of America. The process of the disease begins with a mosquito becoming infected with young heartworm, known as microfilariae, while feeding from the blood of the infected animal.
The microfilariae mature into larvae over the next 10-14 days within the mosquito. Once the parasite has bitten your pet, the larvae enter through the bite wound. It travels through their connective tissue and enters the blood stream before being deposited into the arteries of the lungs. The larvae matures into an adult heartworm over a period of approximately 6 months where it migrates towards the heart, lungs and blood vessels before commencing the reproduction cycle.
A mature adult worm can grow up to 12 inches in length and as many as 250 worms can be reproduced within a dog, living for 5-7 years causing serious injury throughout that time. Cats however, are relatively resistant to heartworm with an infection rate of 5-20% that of dogs in the same area. They typically incur fewer adult worms, usually less than six, and only having a reproductive capability of months rather than years.
What are the signs my pet has heartworm disease?
Heartworm is difficult to detect in pets and in many cases it is often too late to cure the disease. In dogs, the clinical signs may not be evident in the early period of infection and depend on the size of the dog and the number of worms. A heavily infected dog may show signs of fatigue, deep cough and reduced appetite. Clinical signs of heartworm disease in cats often mimic that of other illnesses and in many cases the infection is mistaken for feline asthma. Symptoms of heartworm disease include vomiting, difficult or rapid breathing and weight loss. As the disease progresses in the animals the symptoms become more severe.
What can I do to protect my pet from heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is preventable in both cats and dogs with a variety of options available including daily or monthly tablets, monthly topical treatments and products administered by injection on a six monthly basis. While heartworm prevention is safe, effective and inexpensive, treatment of pets infected with the diseases is not.
Treatment of dogs is complicated, takes a period of weeks and is often a very costly, painful process. Cats however, are not so lucky, as there is yet to be an approved medication to treat felines with the disease without causing significant side effects.
There is continuous debate about whether giving your pet heartworm preventives, which are composed of insecticides designed to kill the larvae, is safe for your dog’s overall health. If you are thinking of preventing heartworm in your pet naturally, you should first assess their potential risks for contracting the disease and discuss your options with your vet. It is also recommended you feed your dog or cat a balanced, healthy diet specific to their breed and keep them well exercised.
There are heartworm nosode, herbal extracts and certain homeopathic treatments available that are used to kill both the microfilaria and the adult worms in dogs if the natural route is your preferred option.
Whether you want to prevent heartworm in your pet via a conventional or natural product you should consider the following:
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Recent national news reports on Zika virus in Texas commanded everyone's full attention. Not only in Texas, but across the U.S., this virus that was once only found in South America, Africa, and Asia, is quickly spreading in North America.
As the San Antonio and South Texas mosquito experts, count on us to keep you up to date and informed on the potentials risks and latest prevention strategies for these incurable mosquito-borne viruses.
Not too long ago, Zika virus initially only occurred in Africa and Asia near the equator. Since then, it has spread eastward across the Pacific to French Polynesia, then to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites from the infected Aedes species of mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes become infected when they bite someone already infected. The mosquitoes then lay their eggs in stagnant bodies of water, usually found in flower pots, bird baths, buckets, or animal bowls. These types of mosquitoes also prefer to bite humans, and are aggressive in the daytime. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no vaccine or cure for the Zika virus.
The most important modes of prevention of Zika virus in San Antonio and South Texas:
At Mosquito Squad, our priority is both our customers’ safety and their awareness of potential issues. We promise to keep you informed, via social media and this site, on any Zika virus news in San Antonio, Bexar and surrounding counties.
Our mosquito control services are effective against mosquitoes and can serve as a vital precaution to help prevent the spread of the Zika virus. If you have questions on how to reduce the mosquito population on your property, please contact us at 210-876-3677 or connect with us by alerting The Squad here.
Researchers have now found a way to genetically alter the Aedes aegypti mosquito to prevent natural reproduction, in turn reducing the population of the species. While this method has not been widely tested yet, it seems to be a promising way to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is notoriously hard to eradicate.
A team of researchers at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech recently made a breakthrough in genetic research that could improve our ability to genetically modify mosquitoes to stop the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.
These researchers have officially sequenced the Y chromosome of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which is the species that transmits malaria. The Y chromosome is what determines the sex and male fertility in mosquitoes.
Until now, the Y chromosome could not be definitively or fully sequenced. This discovery has the potential to greatly improve mosquito control strategies that rely on genetic modification to create more males than females or to create sterile females. Male mosquitoes don’t bite, and are therefore harmless to humans. Creating sterile females prevents the species from reproducing.
A recent article in ScienceDaily explains the Virginia Tech team’s findings and why these are so crucial.
“Thirteen years after the publication of a draft genome of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, we’ve finally characterized its Y chromosome,” said co-author Zhijian Jake Tu, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate. “This is one of the last pieces of the puzzle. Having the Y will help us figure out the genetic basis of male biology in future studies.”
The new information about the Y chromosome will facilitate efforts to reduce female mosquitoes or create sterile males–strategies of interest to research teams across the world.
“The Y chromosome had previously not been characterized because it mostly consists of repetitive DNA sequences that stump the algorithms used by computers to assemble the mosquito’s entire genetic make-up,” said co-author Brantley Hall of Christiansburg, Va., a doctoral student in the genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology program.
“We were able to get around this obstacle (at least partially) by using a new long single-molecule sequencing technology, a new bioinformatics algorithm specifically designed to identify Y sequences, and physical mapping of DNA directly to the Y chromosome,” said co-author Igor Sharakhov, an associate professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate. “Our study provides a long-awaited foundation for studying mosquito Y chromosome biology and evolution.”
“Our combined efforts have resulted in the most extensive characterization of Y chromosome to date in additional malaria vectors as well, which will help identify targeted vector control approaches for different species,” said co-author Atashi Sharma, a doctoral student in the department of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
This research will likely prove to be indispensable as disease control experts develop and test new methods to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses. This particular study focuses on malaria prevention efforts, but these findings also have the potential to be applied to other species and diseases, including Zika.
As always, you should follow mosquito control guidelines to keep your family safe. Contact Mosquito Squad today to find out more about our effective treatment options that can keep your backyard protected from menacing mosquitoes.
An unusually warm winter is setting the stage for what looks to be a grueling mosquito season in 2016. Normally our sprays crank up in April but with no real hard freezes, the mosquito population in San Antonio and South Central Texas appear to have decided to stick around for the winter. I was at soccer practice last night at the Boerne City Park with my daughter and found myself getting bit by mosquitoes. In February! That's definitely not the norm. So needless to say we are gearing up for an unseasonably brutal mosquito year.
I will say I am so glad I found Mosquito Squad. Last year my husband and I became Mosquito Squad customers for the first time upon the recommendation of a San Antonio friend. It worked for her and her 1 acre yard so we hoped it would do the same for us.
We moved to the Hill Country right outside of San Antonio five years ago and have a gorgeous backyard. But one that's also the perfect breeding ground for pesky mosquitoes. After having spent three mosquito seasons staring out the windows at our beautiful backyard, I decided it might be time to take action. After all...what was the point of having moved to the Texas Hill Country if we were going to spend all of our time indoors?
After a glowing recommendation from a friend, we called Mosquito Squad. They came out and treated and, literally THAT NIGHT, we sat out at dusk (which we all know is mosquito prime time) and enjoyed a wonderful evening without a single bite. This was knee deep into the 2015 spring monsoon season, so with all the rain we still did see the occasional mosquito. But 90% elimination when there are 10 mosquitoes is one thing. When you have 100 it's a whole 'nother story!
The effect was still dramatic enough that we started having dinner outside by our pool. Lounging around on our previously off limits back patio (it used to be swarming with pesky mosquitoes!), and watching the sunset as we sat by our pool. Mosquito Squad was a game changer for us. That's when we started thinking that we outta look into the business. Surely there were more people in our area who were having the same trouble and would love to enjoy their backyards again.
Long story short....we loved it so much we bought the business! And we are now poised for our first mosquito season, eliminating mosquitoes for our neighbors. We couldn't be happier to be able to bring this service to more people in San Antonio!
Mosquito Squad NW San Antonio & The Hill County knows that the smallest space with water, such as a discarded soda bottle top, can be the perfect breeding ground for a mosquito to lay 100’s of eggs.
Here’s an easy checklist to mosquito proofing your backyard.
Tip anything around your home that can collect water from rain or your sprinkler system. Dog bowls, plant saucers, clogged gutters and kid’s toys left out in the yard can collect enough water to be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Remove excess grass, weeds from gardens, leaves, firewood and other leftover clippings from yards.
Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like baby pools, children’s portable sandboxes or plastic toys.
4. REMOVE TARPS
If tarps stretched over firewood piles, grills or boats aren’t taut, they’re holding water.
Call Mosquito Squad. Our mosquito elimination barrier treatment eliminates up to 90% of the mosquitoes on your property. Remember that mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance; they can carry dangerous diseases such as Zika and West Nile virus.
Watch our 5 T’s rap video for an easy way to remember how to keep mosquitoes away.
6-C's OF TICK CONTROL
Tick Protection for Your Home and Family
Ticks are both dangerous and annoying. To reduce the number ticks on your property, Mosquito Squad recommends following the 6-C’s of tick control:
Ticks thrive in damp, shaded environments and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Clear out areas where lawn and tree debris gather and relocate compost piles away from high traffic areas. Separate those areas with wood chips or gravel. And avoid positioning playground equipment, decks, or patios near wooded areas.
Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short. This reduces the number pf places that ticks can hide.
Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
CHECK HIDING PLACES
Familiarize yourself with the most likely tick hiding places on your property and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls, and patio retaining walls are all common hiding places.
CARE FOR FAMILY PETS
Family pets are prime targets for ticks and can carry infected ticks into your home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars or sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to only use as directed and to always use caution.
CALL THE PROS
Through regular application, Mosquito Squad utilizes barrier sprays that eliminate adult ticks on contact and remain effective for 14-21 days. Each spray takes approximately 20-minutes to apply, and only another 30-minutes for the spray to cure before you can get back to enjoying your yard.