Protect yourself from mosquitoes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first day of summer is right around the corner and so are mosquitoes.

Mosquito Control is just getting into its busy season and they want to protect you not only from the annoyance of mosquitoes but also from the potential diseases they can carry.

There are many products on the market to keep mosquitoes away, but Mosquito Control officials recommend any bug spray that contains DEET.

"Once we get heavy rain pockets of rain, then there are areas where the mosquitoes can breed and then we begin seeing the numbers increase as we do the service requests," said John Shellhorn, the Chief of Mosquito Control in the Jacksonville Division.

Shellhorn said the bugs are both pesky and they can pose health risks. "Mosquitoes aren't just a nuisance, they also carry diseases. Back in 2012, we had an outbreak of West Nile Virus. There are a lot of things people can do to help themselves," adds Shellhorn.

To protect yourself, Shellhorn recommends the following:
- Get rid of any standing water around your house in toys, tarps, or pots.
- Clean out your gutters.
- Avoid being outside during dusk and dawn- which is peak time for mosquito activity.

"There are 47 different species of mosquitoes in Jacksonville and they each breed differently. They all have a different impact on the citizens of Jacksonville so we set traps and I bring them and figure out what mosquitoes are actually in the area so we know how to better treat for those mosquitoes," said Marah Clark, an entomologist with Mosquito Control. She said each year is unpredictable, that's why it's important to be proactive to protect yourself.

"We don't know what the environmental conditions will be like and they can change in a heartbeat and that can affect the mosquitoes. They have to have water for the early stages to live. If that water is not there, then we're going to have a quiet year, but all of a sudden you get a tropical storm or increased rain, then we can have an influx of mosquitoes," said Clark.

Bug spray with the ingredient DEET is what experts say will protect you the most. If you want a bug spray without the chemical DEET, there are a few other options: Get a spray with IR 35 35 as an active ingredient; Use oil of lemon eucalyptus, which can be found in camping and big box stores; Get a spray with an ingredient called Picardin.

If you have gotten rid of standing water around your home, cleaned out your gutters, etc. and still have a problem with mosquitoes, call 904-630-CITY (2489) to put in a service request.

For more information you can also head to COJ.net.