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Blog | July 2013

West Nile Virus, what to expect

Media from up and down the east coast and Midwest are reporting the presence of West Nile in mosquitoes and humans. As a result of last year’s record numbers, many municipalities raised their testing and mosquito spraying budgets to help combat the mosquito-borne disease, but what can we expect in the coming weeks?

Mosquitoes are out in full force right now. Many areas of the country had periods of heavy rainfall followed by hot weather, the perfect combination for mosquitoes. States like Georgia are reporting a higher number of mosquitoes this year as compared to last year.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, but the victim may not display symptoms for a few weeks after the bite. Typically August is the worst month for West Nile Virus reports. Many of victims probably got the virus in July or even earlier. As more and more cities and towns, from Louisiana to Wisconsin to Massachusetts, report their first human West Nile case of 2013, the numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks.

Eighty percent of people with West Nile virus will never display symptoms, known as a subclinical case. When symptoms do show, they are flulike, including fever, headaches, aches, nausea, etc. We are often asked what the difference between West Nile Virus and West Nile Fever. West Nile Fever is when patients start to display symptoms. There is currently no vaccine or medications to specifically treat or protect against West Nile, instead, the symptoms themselves are treated.

It is believed that mosquitoes get the West Nile Virus from infected birds that they bite and then pass it along to other animals they get blood meals from. While mammals and reptiles are known to carry the disease, not all have reactions like humans.

The best way to protect against West Nile is to protect against mosquito bites and in a year that the population in many areas is on the rise, that can be difficult. There are things you can do on and off your property to decrease the chance for mosquitoes to bite you.

The first thing to do on your property is to get rid of any standing water. Mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs in as little water as a bottle cap, so imagine what they can do in a kiddie pool! Keep kids toys and dog dishes flipped over when they aren’t being used and pay attention to water that is pooling in different areas (like piles of leaves or tarps that aren’t pulled tightly). Getting rid of all the water can be extremely difficult, so consider having professional mosquito control. Mosquito Squad treats its clients’ properties every two to three weeks (depending on package and product) and rids the yard of 85 to 90% of mosquitoes.

Even if you have your yard treated, there will be times when you are off your property and you need to be protected then too. Try to stay inside when mosquitoes are known to be their most active (dawn and dusk). Wearing loose pants and long sleeved shirts make it more difficult for mosquitoes to bite you and you can use a topical mosquito repellent if you need to cover exposed skin.

For questions on professional tick and mosquito control, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

Is that Beer you are Drinking Attracting Mosquitoes?

Two things that make me think of summer are barbecues and, unfortunately, mosquitoes. One of my favorite drinks to enjoy during a barbecue on a hot day is an ice-cold brew. What can I say? It is refreshing. A new article from the Smithsonian, however, is saying that those beers are making drinkers more attractive to mosquitoes!

A Smithsonian blog posted recently describes many factors that may make you more attractive to mosquitoes.

According to a 2002 study, just one bottle of your favorite beer may make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Researchers first thought the increase in mosquito attraction was due to higher sweat levels and skin temperature after consuming alcohol, but found that wasn’t the case. It looks like mosquitoes just want a sip of that refreshing drink too!

Pregnant women beware, you are more nearly twice as likely to get mosquito bites than you were before you were with child. Why? Mosquitoes are widely known to be attracted to carbon dioxide and pregnant women exhale over 20% more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant women.

When men and women exercise, they too exhale more carbon dioxide, but it is more than just that increase that entices mosquitoes. During a workout, the body temperature rises and lactic acid is omitted through sweat. Mosquitoes can detect the increase in body temperature, making people easy targets.

A 2004 study found that mosquitoes too have their preferences, in the form of Type O blood. The majority of people produce a chemical signal that indicates which blood type they have. In the study, mosquitoes were twice as likely to land on those people with Type O blood and least likely to land on people with Type A blood.

Scientists have been studying the factors that attract mosquitoes for years that I feel as if there is always something new coming out. Despite all of the information that we have, there still isn’t a cure for mosquito bites beyond bug sprays and mosquito control, but it important to protect yourself if you spend time outside. Mosquito bites are not only annoying, but they can also be dangerous. Mosquitoes can transmit numerous diseases.

At Mosquito Squad, we tell our clients that the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to implement an Integrated Pest Management Solution, including professional mosquito control. As opposed to normal bug spray, mosquito control will eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. You won’t see very many (if any) flying around you as you eat dinner or enjoy a game outdoors. Mosquito Squad targets the areas we know the pests like to feed and harbor, allowing you to enjoy your yard. Trust us, you’ll enjoy not having to spray your children down with bug spray before they go outside too!

If you have questions regarding mosquito control or our services, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

Know Thy Enemy: Learning Basic Mosquito Control Measures at Home

With summer comes hot, humid weather. For most of us it’s just a matter of discomfort, but for mosquitoes, it’s paradise. You’re already familiar with the annoyances that mosquitoes can cause: the bites, the itching, and the buzzing. But are you aware that mosquitoes are also one of nature’s most-efficient transmitters of disease? Though rare, those dangers make it all the more important that you learn basic mosquito control techniques, beginning with the best ways to control mosquitoes in and around your home.

Limit breeding habitat

Backyard mosquito control starts with hitting them where they live and breed. Look first for places in your yard and around your house that are ideal breeding areas—generally anywhere that has standing water. This can range from hollows and pockets of old rainwater to gutters, birdbaths, or any container wherein water has been allowed to collect and sit. Start by cleaning out these breeding grounds, making sure to drain them regularly. Finally, look for ways to promote drainage in difficult or easily missed containers. For example, drill a few holes into the bottom of your garbage cans to help drain any rainwater that might collect there.

Prepare indoor defense

Good household mosquito control means keeping the battle against the bugs outside the house. Just like any good general, you need to check your house for any possible points of entry. This means patching up any holes in screen doors or windows (or replacing damaged screens). In addition, make sure that your indoor plants don’t become accidental breeding grounds for any mosquitoes that penetrate your defenses by using citronella candles to keep them away.

Call in the cavalry

As long as there have been mosquitoes, there have been people trying to keep them away. That means there is a wide variety of tried-and-true mosquito repellents for you to turn to. Citronella, castor oil, and a number of commercial and homemade remedies are available for basic mosquito control, each with varying levels of effectiveness. Still, sometimes even the most dedicated homeowner can’t hold out against a heavy infestation—especially when a ripe mosquito breeding ground can see millions of eggs turn into swarms of adults within days. In that case, your best option is to turn to professionals like the Mosquito Squad. These experienced exterminators can eliminate the pests and their eggs and give you back your comfort and peace of mind.

These basic backyard mosquito control systems are the key to keeping your family free of the danger, disease, and discomfort that mosquitoes can cause. Just a few guidelines and a bit of vigilance can be the difference between enjoying your summer or spending it hiding, itching, and wishing you’d called in the Mosquito Squad.

Mosquito-borne Illnesses and the Importance of Mosquito Protection

Mosquito bites . . . the ultimate sign of summer. But while we’re all familiar with the itching, swelling, and discomfort they can cause, few people realize that mosquito bites can be far more dangerous than they appear. Mosquitoes are hosts to a number of serious diseases, some of which can be fatal. Before dismissing the importance of efficient mosquito protection for you and your family, you may want to consider what you are exposing your loved ones to.


You may already be familiar with malaria as the most-common mosquito-borne illness. Although eradicated in the US in the 1940s, approximately 1,500 cases of malaria are reported each year in the country from people who travel abroad. Its global mortality rate is both alarming and frightening. Though treatable, malaria is extremely serious, with symptoms including chills, fever, headache, sweating, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. In the most severe cases, malaria can cause acute kidney failure, anemia, seizures, coma, and death.

West Nile

West Nile Virus has seen headlines recently for the sudden and virulent nature of its attacks. In 2012 alone, 5,674 people in the U.S. were infected with the virus, with 286 victims dying from the mosquito-borne disease. Mild cases of West Nile Virus cause fever, rashes, and vomiting, but more severe cases can affect the brain and spinal cord, resulting in loss of vision, convulsions, disorientation, loss of muscle control, coma, and death. With 2012 seeing the second-worst year for West Nile cases in nearly a decade, the use of professional mosquito control in preventing the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses has become even more important.


Dengue (also called Dengue Fever) is a tropical fever that can cause severe muscle pain, headache, eye pain, and rashes. As the name implies, it generally begins with a sudden high fever that can quickly climb to dangerous levels. Though rare in the U.S., cases of Dengue Fever have been reported in both Florida and the American Southwest, especially along the Texas-Mexico border.

Yellow Fever`

If you have traveled internationally, you have probably heard of Yellow Fever—the lack of effective therapeutic treatments for it make the vaccination highly recommended. Though a mild infection of Yellow Fever may only result in fever, chills, vomiting, headache, and pain, a more serious infection will result in a second “toxic” stage that can see liver damage from jaundice (the “yellowing” referred to in the disease’s name), bleeding in the mouth and eyes, and blood in the vomit. In a particularly bad Yellow Fever epidemic, mortality rates can rise as high as 50%. Though Yellow Fever is commonly thought of as a tropical disease, most common to South America and Africa, as with so many diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, it can sometimes travel. Historically, there have been several outbreaks and isolated cases in the United States. The World Health Organization estimates that the disease causes 30,000 deaths a year.

The health dangers posed by mosquitoes go far beyond some itching and discomfort. In some cases, it’s a question of avoiding serious illness, lifelong health problems, or even death. When it comes to keeping you and your family safe and healthy, don’t gamble. Call in a professional mosquito control service like Mosquito Squad and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re protecting your loved ones.

Massachusetts Evaluates Mosquito Larvicide Bill

2013 has been a wet year for many parts of the country and you know that that means: mosquitoes, swarms of them. In anticipation for another large year for mosquito-borne illnesses, Massachusetts legislation is looking at a new mosquito bill that can help fight the bite.

From 2001 to 2009, municipal workers were allowed to administer non-toxic pesticides in storm drains. Storm drains are the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs because they not only hold water, but it’s also difficult to drain completely. Before 2009, municipal workers were allowed to drop pesticide pellets into the drains to cut down on the amount of mosquitoes hatching and they want that capability back after a year of widespread and fatal cases of West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the area.

In 2012 several Massachusetts towns closed community parks at dusk due to high rate of mosquito-borne disease. There has been a lot of spring rainfall that has led lawmakers to consider the bill again.

As State Representative Jason Lew explains, “it has never been clear to us why [the Department of Agriculture Resources] didn’t renew it” when the legislation expired in 2009. After the law relapsed only licensed pest control workers could apply the pesticide. Allowing municipal employees to administer the larvicide would ensure the catch basins were treated in a timely manner.

Larvicide is a pest control treatment that targets the culex species larvae. The non-toxic pesticide stops the larva from maturing into mosquitoes that can transmit disease.

At Mosquito Squad, we will administer species specific growth regulators in areas that hold standing water that you can’t get rid of. For example, a client may have a pond or drain that holds water that they can’t get rid of. If it goes untreated, even a Mosquito Squad treatment won’t stop the mosquitoes from maturing and biting. To ensure that our professional mosquito control is the most effective it can be, those areas are treated with a growth regulator that stops maturation.

As we’ve seen the numbers of reported mosquito-borne illnesses continue to rise, we are happy to see that local governments are taking mosquito control more seriously. While we help protect our clients and their families at home, it’s important they have protection in community areas like parks and local fields.

If you have questions on mosquito control and what you can do to fight the bite, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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* Tick control not available in MI without a license