2020 has been a particularly trying year for people worldwide, and, unfortunately, the citizens of the Dallas/Fort Worth area are facing a new challenge. Near the end of July, Dallas’ neighbor Tarrant County reported their first human case and death due to West Nile Virus (WNV). Then this past Thursday, August 6, Dallas County announced their first human WNV case of 2020.
Although struggles with mosquitoes and the WNV are a yearly phenomenon for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, some areas are reporting record-high amounts of WNV infected mosquito populations. With high numbers of infected mosquitoes around, there is a potential for a West Nile Virus outbreak in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this year.
Read our blog article on common questions about mosquito control to learn more about mosquitoes and the dangerous disease they can transmit.
What the government is doing to help
Many municipalities are taking an active role in the battle against mosquitoes by testing mosquito populations in susceptible areas, and, subsequently, treating the affected areas with fog spraying.
Typically, marshy areas with parks, lakes, and high vegetation have the largest mosquito populations. The counties test mosquito pools in these types of areas to determine the amount of the mosquito populations that are infected with WNV.
In some parts of Tarrant County, as many as 50% of mosquito pools tested have shown to be positive for WNV. A public health warning was issued by the county following the discovery of these record-high numbers.
In an effort to reduce mosquito populations, some areas in Dallas/Fort Worth with a high occurrence of WNV in mosquito populations are conducting overnight fog sprays. This may cause you to think, "Problem solved, the county took care of it!" However, this is simply not the case.
Yes, county fog spraying does help with mosquito control, but it can only do so much.
Not to mention, foggers can only do so much in so many places. Many municipalities never utilize mosquito fog sprayers.
Mosquito foggers are effective against adult mosquitoes only when they come in contact with the fog. Targeting the potentially disease-infected adult mosquitoes along roadways is only part of the battle to prevent a WNV outbreak.
These machines can billow fog about 10 feet out of each side. The fog is most likely to affect the first row of trees or plants that it comes into contact with near the road and sidewalks. This means that (at best) your front yard was treated for mosquitoes (and a temporary, contact-based treatment at that).
That still leaves a lot of essential areas of your property untreated. Backyards, house eaves, plants, shrubbery, and all areas close to your home will not be treated by county foggers. These areas need to be addressed to keep your property safe.
What you need to do to protect yourself
Local health officials are urging citizens to take extra safety precautions and to also participate in the effort to mosquito populations before the West Nile Virus can reach epidemic proportions.
First and foremost, you should protect yourself from bites by wearing insect repellant anytime you are outdoors during mosquito season (usually May-October). Officials strongly recommend that local residents take extra care at dawn and dusk when WNV-mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Consider wearing long sleeves and pants if you’re out at dawn or dusk. You can even spray your clothes for a little extra protection.
“There is no cure for West Nile Virus, so your best option is to prevent it,” says Jeremy Wittenauer, the general manager of Gecko Green. "Stay safe by taking preventative measures such as wearing repellant, spraying your landscape, and removing any sources of standing water. These actions may be simple, but they will greatly reduce your chances of contracting West Nile Virus."
According to Jeremy Wittenauer, anything on your property that can hold water for 7 days is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can breed and hatch in 7 days in even a small amount of water. For this reason, you need to inspect your property for areas of stagnant water.
Obvious areas such as birdbaths or plastic pools should be dumped every two days and have the water replaced. Some spots that need to be checked aren't as obvious, such as trash can lids, buckets and yard toys, gutters, and rain spouts. If these areas are left wet and stagnant, mosquitoes can hatch in as little as a week, and harmful populations will continue to rise.
County officials are also recommending the public have their private property professionally treated for mosquitoes to reduce their populations. It is vital to take precautions now before WNV can spread.
As earlier stated, county driven foggers have minimal effect on your property's mosquito population. Typically, the mosquitoes that affect us live lower than 8 feet. This means that the most critical areas to be treated on your property are the lower mosquito resting places, such as lower-growing plants near your home.
When you hire professionals, like the experts at Gecko Green, you and your property will have the best possible protection. Professionals can inspect and treat every inch of your property that matters.
Gecko Green helps keep your family safe by spraying your plants, eaves, flower beds, shrubbery, playground equipment, and patio furniture to eliminate mosquitoes. Unlike the broad, contact-based county foggers, the spray used by Gecko Green on your property has a residual effect. That means this spray will keep your yard mosquito-free for weeks!