Homeowners' Spring Cleaning Can Help Reduce Mosquito Populations
ANNAPOLIS - Most of Maryland had been experiencing a dry, cool spring with little mosquito breeding activity until a Nor'easter hit the area two weeks ago. The storm brought rain to most of the state and high tides resulted in coastal flooding. These conditions combined with warm weather to create perfect conditions for a sizeable mosquito population. Residents in most areas can anticipate the emergence of troublesome numbers of adult mosquitoes within the next two weeks. Applications of mosquito larvicides began two weeks ago in counties in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.
"As the weather begins to warm, homeowners are reminded that their regular spring cleaning activities can help reduce mosquito populations" said Agriculture Secretary Roger L. Richardson. "Measures such as removing containers which accumulate water and cleaning roof gutters will help prevent mosquitoes from breeding and will make spring outdoor activities such as gardening, barbeques and outdoor sports more pleasant."
Maryland's Mosquito Control Program provides direct service to approximately 2,100 communities in 22 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. A 2006 survey of participants in the program showed that 97 percent of respondents said it was very important to control mosquitoes and 97 percent also believe that mosquito control efforts reduce the mosquito population. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the mosquito control program. In addition to the state program, homeowners can take steps to help reduce mosquito populations.
While spring cleaning, residents should perform the following steps:
. Remove any buckets, cups, bottles, plastic bags, etc. that may have accumulated outside.
. Clean roof gutters (after the oak trees have finished flowering).
. Check rain barrels to make sure they're completely screened (including around the down spout).
. Remove any old tires (or drill holes in those used for playground equipment). Store usable tires in a shed or garage so they won't accumulate water.
. Fix dripping outdoor faucets.
. Introduce fish to ornamental ponds, even those with fountains or bubblers. Most fish will eat mosquito larvae.
. Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting lids. If lids are not available, drill holes in the bottom of the can.
For more information about Maryland's Mosquito Control Program, call 410-841-5870 or go to Maryland Department of Agriculture's website at www.mda.state.md.us.