Simple changes are enough to avoid West Nile virus

We’re all doing our best to social distance these days. If only mosquitoes self-quarantined, too. Fortunately, out of the 44 species of mosquitoes in The Woodlands, only one one threatens to pack more than an itch with its bite – West Nile virus. Here’s what you need to know about preventing annoying bites and potentially much worse.

AVOID PEAK TIMES 

You might feel like the main course at times, but the southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus) – the primary vector for West Nile virus – would rather feast on birds than people. That’s why they’re most active at dawn and dusk, when birds are roosting. However, if you’re active then, too, you’ve put yourself on the menu.   

Consider changing your routine to avoid harm’s way. Could you: 

  • Walk the dog before dinner instead of after dark? 
  • Go for a run after the sun has risen? 
  • Take a tee time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.? 

Putting it in action: Marissa likes walking her dog in the morning when the air is as cooler. With the increase in WNV activity though, she’s started answering emails until 9 a.m. and then hits the trail. Sure, it’s a little sweatier but the peace of mind is worth it. 


FIGHT BACK  

If you do find yourself watering plants at dusk or enjoying a sunrise coffee on the patio, here are some tools to fight the bite. 

A Big Oscillating Fan 

A fan that blows air horizontally creates an air current too stiff for mosquitoes to handle – their flight speed maxes out at 2 miles per hour (a gentle breeze is about 10 mph). The wider the fan oscillates, the greater the area you can keep mosquito-free. Overhead fans are nice, but not as effective. Pro tip: add a second fan for more complete coverage and refreshment. 

Best application: when you’re outdoors in one spot. Think grilling, reading, or lounging, on a blanket with the kids. 

Putting it into action: neighbors Neil and Susan read how to Mosquito-Proof the Patio and liked the simple solution of an oscillating fan for their grilling competition. Susan had a fan in the garage that would fit the bill, just needed an extension cord. Neil decided to augment his overhead fan with a floor fan. Now let the competition begin!   


Cloaking Spray 

It can’t be said enough – wear repellent! Now is the time to make it a regular part of your outdoor routine. Think they all stink, are full of chemicals, or just plain don’t work? We explore these three common reasons and offer some myth-busters to help you find the repellent that works for you. For those with wee ones see this Parents Guide to Repellent.   

Best application: anytime you’re out and moving – especially during peak times. Think watering the veggies in the evening, walking the dog before a 7 a.m. Zoom meeting or picnicking in the park for dinner. 

Bonus points: wear a light-colored, long-sleeve shirt or long pants (or both!) to cut down on your exposure to bites – and reduce the amount of repellent you need. 

Putting it into action: Sebastian likes to work off the day’s stress at the park before dinner – but he’s noticed this is a peak time for mosquitoes. After some trial and error, he found that IR3535 works best for him. It isn’t greasy and has no odor. Now he makes sure to keep a bottle in his car so its right there when he needs it.  


The options are endless – what three things can you do today to reduce your chance of being bitten? Here are some ideas: 

  • Leave a can of repellent by my front door to use before walks 
  • Try a new repellent, one with a different active ingredient that might work better for me: try oil of lemon eucalyptus which has a citrusy scent or IR3535 that doesn’t small at all 
  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt when I garden 
  • Wear long pants when I go for a walk 
  • Move the floor fan from the spare room to the patio 
  • Water the garden with a sprinkler on a timer instead of standing there with the hose  
  • Change up the timing of my dog walk 

The best protection against West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. To make sure you aren’t breeding your own mosquitoes, find a handy checklist and other good resources at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/MosquitoInfo

To report a mosquito concern, contact enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800 

Simple changes are enough to avoid West Nile virus

We’re all doing our best to social distance these days. If only mosquitoes self-quarantined, too. Fortunately, out of the 44 species of mosquitoes in The Woodlands, only one one threatens to pack more than an itch with its bite – West Nile virus. Here’s what you need to know about preventing annoying bites and potentially much worse.

AVOID PEAK TIMES 

You might feel like the main course at times, but the southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus) – the primary vector for West Nile virus – would rather feast on birds than people. That’s why they’re most active at dawn and dusk, when birds are roosting. However, if you’re active then, too, you’ve put yourself on the menu.   

Consider changing your routine to avoid harm’s way. Could you: 

  • Walk the dog before dinner instead of after dark? 
  • Go for a run after the sun has risen? 
  • Take a tee time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.? 

Putting it in action: Marissa likes walking her dog in the morning when the air is as cooler. With the increase in WNV activity though, she’s started answering emails until 9 a.m. and then hits the trail. Sure, it’s a little sweatier but the peace of mind is worth it. 


FIGHT BACK  

If you do find yourself watering plants at dusk or enjoying a sunrise coffee on the patio, here are some tools to fight the bite. 

A Big Oscillating Fan 

A fan that blows air horizontally creates an air current too stiff for mosquitoes to handle – their flight speed maxes out at 2 miles per hour (a gentle breeze is about 10 mph). The wider the fan oscillates, the greater the area you can keep mosquito-free. Overhead fans are nice, but not as effective. Pro tip: add a second fan for more complete coverage and refreshment. 

Best application: when you’re outdoors in one spot. Think grilling, reading, or lounging, on a blanket with the kids. 

Putting it into action: neighbors Neil and Susan read how to Mosquito-Proof the Patio and liked the simple solution of an oscillating fan for their grilling competition. Susan had a fan in the garage that would fit the bill, just needed an extension cord. Neil decided to augment his overhead fan with a floor fan. Now let the competition begin!   


Cloaking Spray 

It can’t be said enough – wear repellent! Now is the time to make it a regular part of your outdoor routine. Think they all stink, are full of chemicals, or just plain don’t work? We explore these three common reasons and offer some myth-busters to help you find the repellent that works for you. For those with wee ones see this Parents Guide to Repellent.   

Best application: anytime you’re out and moving – especially during peak times. Think watering the veggies in the evening, walking the dog before a 7 a.m. Zoom meeting or picnicking in the park for dinner. 

Bonus points: wear a light-colored, long-sleeve shirt or long pants (or both!) to cut down on your exposure to bites – and reduce the amount of repellent you need. 

Putting it into action: Sebastian likes to work off the day’s stress at the park before dinner – but he’s noticed this is a peak time for mosquitoes. After some trial and error, he found that IR3535 works best for him. It isn’t greasy and has no odor. Now he makes sure to keep a bottle in his car so its right there when he needs it.  


The options are endless – what three things can you do today to reduce your chance of being bitten? Here are some ideas: 

  • Leave a can of repellent by my front door to use before walks 
  • Try a new repellent, one with a different active ingredient that might work better for me: try oil of lemon eucalyptus which has a citrusy scent or IR3535 that doesn’t small at all 
  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt when I garden 
  • Wear long pants when I go for a walk 
  • Move the floor fan from the spare room to the patio 
  • Water the garden with a sprinkler on a timer instead of standing there with the hose  
  • Change up the timing of my dog walk 

The best protection against West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. To make sure you aren’t breeding your own mosquitoes, find a handy checklist and other good resources at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/MosquitoInfo

To report a mosquito concern, contact enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800 

An easy disguise to outsmart greedy mosquitoes

Ever wonder how mosquitoes seemingly appear out of nowhere to ruin your fun? How do they find you so quickly? It’s all owed to a highly tuned sensory system which targets the next source of blood to fuel the next batch of eggs. Find out how keen their senses are in this explanation of How Mosquitoes Find You.

If only there was a magical coating to cloak you from these marauding blood-suckers – an invisibility cape that took just seconds to put on and followed you everywhere. Would you wear it? Well, you’re in luck. Find out how to harness the Power of Invisibility in the fight against mosquitoes.

For more information on keeping mosquitoes out of your backyard, check out how to Mosquito-Proof Your Patio or thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/mosquitoinfo

To report a mosquito problem, contact the Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800. 

West Nile virus is actively circulating in The Woodlands – take precautions

The Woodlands Township Mosquito Surveillance Program indicates disease activity is increasing with almost half of monitored zones returning a positive mosquito sample for West Nile virus (WNV). Mid-July to mid-August is the typical peak of WNV activity in the mosquito population—please be vigilant in protecting yourself and your loved ones from mosquito bites. There has been one reported human case of WNV in north Texas, according to the Department of State Health Services. 

The Township partners with county agencies to respond to disease activity. Access the Mosquito Treatment Activity Map for South Montgomery County here and for Harris County here to find out if and when your area has been scheduled for spraying. Montgomery County Precinct 4 conducts additional operations which includes Harper’s Landing, their map is accessed here. Residents of Alden Bridge and College Park west of I-45 can learn of additional operations in Precinct 2 by calling that office at 281-259-6405. 

Environmental Services regularly looks for and treats sites where mosquitoes are breeding. Help us stop mosquitoes at the source by targeting these items in your own neighborhood: 

  • Tip out toys and garden equipment after rain 
  • Clean out gutters 
  • Maintain birdbaths 
  • Treat meter boxes that hold water with Bti Mosquito Dunks® 

Non-toxic Bti Mosquito Dunks® are the best way to treat areas where water stands for more than five days. Cheap, easy, and safe for pets and wildlife, you can find them at your local hardware store.  

Personal Protective Measures 

  1. Everyone is advised to wear repellent when outdoors and when West Nile virus is known to be circulating. This is especially important when someone: 
  • Is over age 50 
  • Is outside in the early morning or evening hours when mosquitoes are most active 
  • Has underlying health conditions 

There are special considerations for children – see this Parents Guide to Repellent.  

  1. The mosquitoes that carry WNV are more active during early dawn, dusk and dark hours. Consider changing your routine if you are normally outdoors during these times, or create a barrier by covering skin with long sleeves and pants. 

More Tools to Mosquito-Proof Your Patio 

Here is information about why an oscillating fan works well and why we recommend garlic barrier, just two of the suggestions in the Mosquito-Proof Your Patio series. Use this handy guide to check your yard for other places mosquitoes might be lurking.  

To report a problem area or to request more information, contact the Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800.  

A Better Way to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Getting rid of mosquitoes doesn’t have to involve deadly chemicals or the latest expensive gimmick. Effective control is a combination of vigilance, personal repellent and using the right products to target specific areas.

Garlic barrier, commonly sold as Mosquito Barrier, has been used for years in agriculture to repel insects from crops and even keep birds from eating tree fruits. It works by overwhelming the mosquito’s sensory system which is 10,000 times more finely tuned than ours. Once the product is dry, you can’t smell it, but they sure can – and they can’t stand it! As it is not a contact pesticide like other backyard sprays, it is safe for beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Easy to apply

Sold as a liquid concentrate, garlic barrier is 95-99% garlic with a natural sulfer compound that repels mosquitoes and other pests. There are three easy steps to mix and apply.

  • Dilute the concentrate with water according to the label in a clean pump sprayer that has not held herbicides or “weed and feed.”
  • Pressurize the container by pumping and apply to shrubs, trees, fences and other structures around the perimeter of your yard. Spray as high as you can reach and avoid coating flowers.
  • Reapply after it rains or after 30 days, whichever comes first.

This can be a great tool to use ahead of a pool party, family barbeque, or to simply enjoy your yard free from pesky bloodsuckers.

As this is a barrier at the edge of your yard, make sure you don’t have any sneaky water sources within the perimeter that are breeding mosquitoes. Keep in mind, many common culprits are out of of sight. Do you have any of the following?

  • French drains
  • Gutters with leaf debris
  • A water meter box that gets flooded by rain or irrigation
  • Plant saucers
  • Toys, tarps or bags of potting soil that collect water

Address these first so you aren’t trapping mosquitoes within your property.

For other easy ways to mosquito-proof your patio – check out this two-part series.

For more information on keeping mosquitoes out of your backyard, check out thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/mosquitoinfo. To report a mosquito problem, contact the Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800.