With spring here and summer approaching, it means getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather. It also means the mosquitoes have returned.

The Webster Parish Police Jury has already begun its fight against mosquitoes by spraying throughout the parish, but they say citizens can help control the mosquito population by doing a few simple things.

The police jury began spraying for mosquitoes last week, spraying every night for four hours each night. Although there is no set timeframe they start and stop during the year, Teddy
Holloway, police jury public works director, says they will spray at least through the summer.
He offered some tips that citizens can do to help in mosquito population control.

“The best thing is for people to take care of their yards; no standing water in their yards,” he said. “Birdbaths, buckets with water in them, tires, anything that holds standing water.”
The LSU AgCenter also offers a few tips to avoid mosquitoes. Lee Faulk, LSU AgCenter extension agent for Claiborne and Webster parishes, says getting rid of standing water will go far in preventing the breeding of the insect.

“Mosquitoes require warm, wet environments to thrive and reproduce and can be a severe health hazard to people,” he said. “Mosquitoes spread diseases such as West Nile virus, encephalitis and many others. Steps should be taken by the public to reduce the risk of mosquitoes on their property.”

Mosquitoes spend half their life in water, according to a news release. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in water or areas that may contain standing water.

“The eggs hatch in the water and the young mosquitoes will swim around and feed on microbes and other small particles in the water,” AgCenter officials said. “Upon transforming from the pupae stage in the water into the adult stage, the adult mosquito flies off.”

Here are some prevention tips homeowners can do to help keep the population down:

Removing any cans, bird baths, old tires or pipes and empty buckets are all items that can potentially hold water which is conducive to mosquito breeding.

Keeping your lawn cut low also makes it more difficult for mosquitoes to thrive.

Chemical controls do work well on mosquitoes. Repellants containing DEET or Picardin have both been proven very effective at repelling mosquito bites.

When purchasing repellants, pay close attention to the percent concentration of the product as some higher concentrations are unsafe for children. The label of the repellant will give you all the information you need to know about using the product safely.

For a more natural repellant, try products such as Citronella, Bite Blocker, OFF Botanical or Repel Eucalyptus.

“Other products on the market can be used to control mosquitoes outside, but aren’t safe to apply to your clothing or person,” Faulk said. “Some permethrins, pyrethrins and other chemicals are labeled for outdoor control of mosquitoes. As with all pesticides and repellants, please read the label on the product and follow its guidelines and directions. The label on the pesticides is the law.”

He says the easiest prevention method is removing standing water and keeping lawns cut low.

For more information on mosquito control, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension Office at 318-927-3110 or 318-377-1371.