Originally created 08/22/96

Fighting back summer's mosquito attack



This summer's hot, rainy weather has produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes, but there are some things homeowners can do to fight the bloodsucking hordes.

Birdbaths, old tires and stopped-up gutters - even discarded cups - serve as breeding ground for mosquitoes, but clearing up the problem is as simple as draining away pools of water, says Cheryl E. Turner, an environmental health specialist with the Richmond County Health Department.

"Mosquitoes around here rarely travel farther than 125 feet from where they were hatched, so if you're being bitten, the problem's probably coming from around your house," Ms. Turner said.

To alleviate the problem, the city blankets the area with a mist of anti-mosquito agents such as Malathion. During the peak season in midsummer, the city operates five trucks, covering the whole county in two or three weeks.

But Ms. Turner said homeowners can do a more effective job by eliminating standing pools of water around their houses.

Mosquitoes need water to survive during their early life stages. Most Augusta-area mosquitoes are the floodwater type, laying eggs on the edge of a body of water and depending on the water rising to "flood" the eggs.

About five days later, the eggs hatch, spawning the pesky insects that can carry all sorts of disease, but rarely in this area. Although southern Georgia and Florida must guard against deadly diseases such as equine encephalitis, no one in the Augusta area has been infected with a confirmed mosquito-borne disease in recent memory.

"We lose about 11 horses a year (in Georgia), but I don't recall hearing of any human cases in the past 20 years," Ms. Turner said.