The monsoon and irrigation seasons are underway in Doña Ana County. Large-area irrigation reaches a peak with the scheduled water releases. Each year, Doña Ana County Vector Control partners with farmers to prevent standing open water, where mosquitoes can breed. The farmers assist by keeping drains, ditches, and culverts free of weeds and trash to facilitate proper drainage.
Vector Control personnel also work in residential neighborhoods, and offer a range of educational support to help residents avoid standing water in flower pots with deep saucers, trash barrels and the old tires. Large areas of standing water can be reported to (575) 526-8150 for inspection and treatment.
Vector Control personnel advise that water in children’s wading pools should be kept fresh to dissuade mosquito breeding. Livestock watering troughs can be treated with various mosquito-control products.
Safe and effective products to treat mosquitoes are available at all major hardware stores. Large, unused swimming pools are easy to treat with floating discs that release a chemical to prevent mosquitoes from breeding successfully. Rainwater cisterns should be screened or treated to prevent breeding.
Natural mosquito control in ponded water can also be controlled with gambusia minnows. Deep-water rain ponds and backyard fountains can be stocked with minnows that eat mosquito larvae. Doña Ana County provides free minnows to residents who visit the minnow ponds at 4605 West Picacho Avenue. Vector staff is onsite Tuesday mornings from 8-10 a.m. to bag fish for residents who want them. It’s advised to bring a bucket to prevent leaks in transport.
Desert mosquitoes like deep grass and weeds to provide cooling shade and moisture. Property maintenance is important to control mosquitoes. Keep grass and shrubs well trimmed close to the house so adult mosquitoes will not rest there. To reduce levels of biting mosquitoes and gnats, insecticides can be applied to shade areas of the yard and barns as needed. Always read and follow label directions before using any pesticide. Consult with New Mexico State University Agricultural Extension staff for information on effective barn treatments with livestock on premises.
Mosquitoes are most active in early mornings or evenings, and they’re attracted to light. Residents are advised to use effective repellents to reduce the risk of mosquito bites. Carefully read and follow manufacturer’s directions for use.
To help young people learn about effective mosquito control, the Doña Ana County Vector Control staff has produced a coloring book for mosquito-science education. The book is regularly taken into classrooms throughout Doña Ana County, where the program has been embraced by students and teachers.
Things You May Not Know About Mosquitoes
- Only female mosquitoes bite people. She needs the protein in your blood to help her eggs develop.
- A mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood.
- Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. They are laid in clusters on the surface of standing water.
- Mosquitoes hibernate in the winter. Because they are cold-blooded, they favor temperatures above 80 degrees.
- The average mosquito weighs approximately 2.5 milligrams.
- Although they do carry deadly diseases, mosquitoes do not transmit HIV. Their stomachs actually digest the disease and they do not pass it on.
- Bug zappers are not effective in eradicating mosquitoes and other biting insects. They do, however, kill beneficial, harmless insects such as moths.
- The itchy bump we get from a mosquito bite is the effect of her saliva. It contains an anti-coagulant and produces an allergic reaction from our immune system.
- Mosquitoes have a keen sensitivity to the carbon dioxide, lactic acid and octenol that our body gives off through our breath and sweat. They are also sensitive to the heat and humidity that surround our bodies.
For more information contact Doña Ana County Vector Control at (575) 526-8150.
Sources: The American Mosquito Control Association; the US Center for Disease Control; US Dept. of Agriculture.