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Life and times of Key Biscayne florida
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opinion

July 24th, 2014

4 + 1 = 300


W

 e might all be singing “rain, rain, go away,” but when the summer rains stop, we have two other problems: oppressive heat and mosquitos.
While mosquitos are always a bothersome and itchy problem that spoil many a summer barbecue, two mosquito-borne diseases found in Florida also make this infestation a health issue.
Recently the Florida Department of Health warned Florida residents of 24 dengue fever confirmed cases and 18 chikungunya confirmed cases in their weekly report. According to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, as high as 40 percent of the homes in Key West were found to have mosquito larvae in their yard carrying dengue fever in 2012. Residents can help reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases by implementing a mosquito control plan that eliminates standing water. Here’s the math: because mosquitoes can complete their life cycle – from egg to adult – in as little as four days in one tablespoon of water, standing water that sits for four days becomes a breeding ground for more than 300 eggs that can be laid by one mosquito. Get rid of common areas that hold as little as one tablespoon of water up to four days. This can prevent hundreds of mosquitoes from infesting a neighborhood up to the 7-mile radius mosquitoes are known to fly for their blood meal. In a course offered to mosquito control pest management professionals, advice presented included drilling holes in the bottom of garbage cans and lawn debris containers so any water collected can easily drain out. Other suspect places include old tires, tarps covering firewood or boats, wheelbarrows, drain dishes under potted plants or empty bottles and cans.
Often overlooked are the rain gutters. They collect leaves, clog up the system and become perfect breeding grounds. Gutters should be regularly cleaned or screens should be added on top that would prevent them from clogging. Screening can also be used to cover rain barrels or water tanks. Consider spaces under the house too. Any standing water under there can be accessed by mosquitoes through a crawl space – especially if it has a screen with wide holes. Here’s an interesting way to re-use old coffee grounds. São Paulo State University Biologist Alessandra Laranja found placing used coffee grounds inside bromeliads, in drip plates or on the dirt in potted plants can keep mosquitoes from breeding in these places. The grounds reportedly intoxicate and kill the larvae. More good news, free grounds are available at any Starbucks store.
Around the house even children’s wading pools, ornamental bird baths and dog bowls left unattended for a few days can be home to mother mosquito’s 100-300 hatchlings. Make sure they are dumped and refilled frequently. A natural helper that can be added to an outdoor pond is the Mosquito Fish, known to consume large amounts of insect larvae. Aside from man-made features, the natural landscape mosquito attractors include holes in tree stumps, cracks in the driveway and foot prints made by people or animals. Those can be filled with gravel, sand or dirt to be level.
Finally, consider changing the color of light bulbs used outdoors. White lights attract more mosquitoes than yellow bulbs. By the way, zapp don’t really zap the mosquito problem. Studies show yards with zappers have the same numbers of mosquitoes as yards without them. (Information provided by PLP Natural Products.)

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