Buzzz. Slap. Buzzzzzzzz. Slap! This is one of the many sounds of summer, which is often followed by a few choice words. The rainy summer we have had seems to have been perfect for mosquitoes.
These annoying little bugs lay their eggs in water. They thrive in rainy weather, when puddles, pools, buckets and other leftover containers fill up with water. Those small still bits of water are perfect for mosquitoes to grow up in.
It's hard to believe that the mosquitoes are born in your yard when a giant lake is so close by, but most mosquitoes don't lay their eggs in the lake. The fish and other insects in the lake make quick meals out of the mosquitoes. They prefer quiet, predator-free places, like holes in trees that fill with water, bird baths, garbage cans and the odd children's toy that fills up with water when left outside. Depending on the temperature of the water they are growing up in, the young only take a week or two to grow up. They look like tiny wigglers, jig-jagging through the water. They have been seen in water bowls for pets, bird baths, water barrels, puddles and Chinese takeout containers in the ditch. Wherever there is a tiny bit of water, a female mosquito will find it.
The number of annoying, biting mosquitos around your property can be reduced if you take care to eliminate even small amounts of standing water where many kinds of mosquitos breed.
If you have a mosquito problem near you, look through your yard for bits of standing water, even small ones. Politely talk to your neighbors and explain that mosquitoes grow up in water and that you need to work together to get rid of them. I once did a program in Jamestown where the mosquitoes were awful. We couldn't walk more than a foot before the little blood suckers were all over us. A quick search of the area revealed a pile of six tires that were half full of water and filled with mosquito larva.
To avoid getting bitten, put on insect repellent. There are a wide variety of them out there that you can use. Not only do they keep away mosquitoes, but repellents can also help you keep from getting sick. Some mosquitoes carry diseases. West Nile Virus is a mosquito borne disease. It can cause flu like symptoms and get quite serious. The good news is that you will really only get it if you get bit by a mosquito carrying it. Avoid the bite, and you avoid the disease. Clear your neighborhood of mosquito breeding areas, and the chances are even lower.
Mosquitoes, however, are not the only ones to worry about. I was coming back from a concert earlier this summer when I noticed that my leg was hurting. A Deer Tick was imbedded in my thigh, slowly filling itself up with my blood. There is no way to express how absolutely repulsive it is to have some tiny thing sucking your life's blood out. Even worse was the thought that the dumb thing just the size of a period but getting larger as it dines on my blood could carry Lyme Disease and make me sick.
I carefully used tweezers to pull it out by the head and get rid of it, but I really wish I had worn repellent that day. It's better to be safe than to have a tick in your leg. I'm much more careful about putting repellent on now.
Getting out in the heat of summer is a fun, wonderful thing, but be safe. Wear some repellent!
Jeff Tome is a senior naturalist for Programs and Exhibits at the Jamestown Audubon Society and a longtime CWC volunteer and former board director. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit www.chautauquawatershed.org or www.facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.