Many people just consider mosquitoes to be a nuisance, but the 61 different species that exist in the Palmetto State are under the watchful eyes of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local mosquito control companies that help protect families and businesses from the disease-carrying insects.
The most common existing or potential mosquito-borne viruses and parasites in South Carolina include West Nile virus, a number of encephalitis viruses and dog and cat heartworm, according to DHEC.
DHEC works in partnership with the CDC to monitor mosquito populations for diseases that can be spread to humans. The agency also provides information to help individuals and communities take action to reduce mosquito populations in their area and prevent bites. The common mantra: The only good mosquito is a dead one.
These six-legged insects whose name means “little fly” don’t pack a little punch when it comes to proliferation. It only takes about 72 hours for approximately 300 mosquitoes to hatch from an overturned bottle cap left outside on a deck or by a pool, according to Mary Anna Lewis, owner of Mosquito Squad of the Lowcountry.
“Mosquitoes are also attracted to foliage, so the more foliage you have, the more mosquitoes you’ll have without treatment,” Lewis said.
The Mosquito Squad offers a seasonal package of protective barrier treatments, in a traditional formula or a natural protection treatment that is made up of essential oils that can reduce the mosquito population by up to 85% and last up to 21 days.
“We are proud to serve clients throughout the Lowcountry and surrounding areas, including Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Hanahan and beyond,” Lewis said. “We are residents of the communities that we serve, so customer service really matters to us.”
The most rewarding part of Lewis’ work, she confided, is helping people enjoy every square inch of their outdoor space with friends and family – including all the four-legged family members.
“Some people just cannot go out because they have an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s bite,” Lewis said. “I love knowing that what we do gets them outside. I also consider dogs, cats and other pets to be family members, and it feels good to protect them from heartworm and other illnesses that mosquitoes carry.”
DHEC promotes the motto, “Make Memories, Not Mosquitoes” and warns residents that controlling mosquitoes is a community effort. Common breeding spots for mosquitoes include:
• Man-made containers;
• Bromeliad and pitcher plants;
• Natural containers;
• Flowerpot saucers;
• Tarps/sheeting covering yard items;
• Rock pools;
• Tree/stump holes;
• Clogged gutters and downspouts;
• Magnolia leaves;
• Cut-off bamboo stalks.
The 7 Ts of Mosquito Control
The key to controlling mosquito populations is understanding how they breed and where they prefer to hide. Eliminating areas where they lay eggs and hang out will go a long way in removing them from your backyard. The Mosquito Squad of The Lowcountry recommends the following tips to protect your family and home from mosquitoes.
Tip: Get rid of standing water in your outdoor spaces. Standing water may be in your child’s plastic toys, areas underneath downspouts, plant saucers or dog bowls. Other areas may include traps, gutters and flat roofs.
Toss: Remove excess grass, leaves, firewood and grass clippings from your yard.
Turn: Turn over larger yard items that could hold water, like children’s portable sandboxes, plastic toys or birdbaths.
Remove tarps: If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment aren’t taut, they may be holding water that you should remove.
Take care: Take care of home maintenance needs that can lead to standing water. This includes cleaning out gutters, making sure downspouts are adequately attached, keeping your grass cut low and checking irrigation systems for leaks.
Team up: Despite taking all precautions in your own home, talking to neighbors is a crucial component to mosquito and tick control. Homes with little space between lots can mean that mosquitoes breed at a neighbor’s house and affect your property.
Treat: Utilize a mosquito elimination barrier treatment around your home and yard.