Spring rain and the increase in daily temperatures create perfect conditions for the return of pesky mosquitoes. Curtailing these nuisance pests is a team effort, calling upon cooperation from St. Charles County residents and staff from the Division of Environmental Health and Protection.
“During Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 25 to July 1), we remind residents of the joint efforts required to abate mosquitoes and prevent the spread of disease,” Division Director Ryan Tilley says. “When residents take steps to eliminate breeding areas in their backyards and protect themselves by wearing repellent when outdoors, our staff can focus on larger habitat areas to mitigate problems. As part of the week’s activities, our mosquito control program staff will distribute repellent packets and share additional prevention techniques.”
To decrease the mosquito population in St. Charles County and prevent related disease outbreaks transmitted by infected insects, the division’s mosquito control program inspects problem areas and applies treatment when surveillance systems or resident notifications alert staff. Staff efforts target habitat areas to control larvae and treat adult mosquito populations with a small amount of insecticide to reduce numbers.
The division contracts with several municipalities to minimize mosquito populations in their community. Residents living in unincorporated St. Charles County or within the city limits of Augusta, Cottleville, Dardenne Prairie, Flint Hill, Lake Saint Louis, Portage des Sioux, St. Paul, Weldon Spring, Weldon Spring Heights and Wentzville, who are concerned about nuisance mosquitoes, should visit www.sccmo.org/mosquito to use the online portal to register and request assistance. Those without Internet access can call 636-949-1800 for service. Residents living within the city limits of O’Fallon, St. Charles and St. Peters should contact their respective city halls.
While the division will use various techniques to reduce mosquito populations, individuals also must take personal responsibility. The most effective way to block insect bites is to use repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR 3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors. Eliminating potential breeding grounds around the home by draining areas where water settles, cleaning clogged gutters, removing trash and debris that could contain water, and disrupting fountains, ponds or bird baths also help to reduce mosquito development.
Awareness of the potentially dangerous conditions associated with infected mosquitoes has increased over the past few years. Most of these infections, such as malaria, Zika virus and Chikungunya virus, are concentrated in tropical destinations and are troublesome for travelers. However, one concern across the United States, and here in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, is infection from the West Nile virus — which displays symptoms including fever, headache, body ache, vomiting, rash, and in extreme cases, brain or spinal inflammation. For additional information on the West Nile virus, please visit www.sccmo.org/1038/West-Nile-Virus.
To help monitor mosquito populations, the division introduced a collection and assessment program this season. Staff will trap mosquitoes at various sites around St. Charles County from June through September and examine them to establish the species commonly found. Confirming the type of mosquitoes in our community will enable staff to better treat populations, as various species behave differently and are active at different times fo the day. Additionally, the collection will allow staff to test individual insects for the presence of diseases.