The Ants Are Here!

May 03, 2016

…and what will follow? It’s barely spring and yet during the night, an army of tiny ants descends upon a dropped bit of last night’s dinner! Apparently, temperatures do not trigger their appearance. They live and emerge on their own time clock. If the ants have appeared, it can surely only mean that other little critters of nature cannot be far behind.

As we enter the warm weather months, we will again have to deal with mosquitoes and ticks, both of which can cause illness in animals and in humans.  As most people know, mosquitoes have been associated with the transmission of West Nile Virus in CT to humans.  Fortunately, the number of severe human cases of West Nile Virus in Connecticut has been very low. However, you can expect that West Nile will surface again this year.

You have most likely heard about the Zika virus, also carried by mosquitoes. The mosquito most frequently associated with the spread of this virus is not currently present in our state at this time, and the species- related mosquito is not likely to cause widespread the disease in CT.  However, special precautions are necessary for persons traveling to areas where this virus is common and for sexual partners of those who have traveled to areas where Zika is found, especially for women of child-bearing age. Visit www.cdc.gov  for more information as well as areas where the virus is found or call QVHD for written information. QVHD will work with the CT Agricultural Station and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) throughout the warm weather season to monitor mosquito activity. 

To protect yourself against mosquito bites at home, there are several actions you can take which have been demonstrated (through scientific studies) to provide great protection.

            #1. Use an insect repellent. Not only will this protect you from mosquito bites, but it will also decrease the chance of a tick bite. Caution should be used when applying repellents, especially on children. Read and follow the directions for use on the product label. (They are there for a reason!) Apply to clothing rather than skin when possible.  Do not use any of them on damaged skin.  Do not apply to face area or hands.  Wash off when you return indoors. 

#2. Reduce mosquito populations from your yard. Since any water-holding container can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, you should eliminate sources around your home that collect water.  Mosquitos need very little water and very little time to breed. Breeding grounds can include something as small as the dish under a plant to larger collection sources, such as a birdbath, pool covers or clogged roof gutters.  Any standing source of un-aerated water (water without movement) can breed a lot of mosquitoes.  

            Actions you can take to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds include: Repair leaky pipes and outside dripping faucets; Change water in birdbaths weekly; Change water in pet’s dish and chicken coops daily;  Empty children’s pool daily; Clean clogged roof gutters; Fill in holes in trees with sand or mortar; Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating fish; and drain flower pot/plant dishes two times per week. For stagnant water that can’t be drained there are products you can buy that help reduce mosquito breeding. They are called mosquito dunks and are available in most hardware stores. 

            For more information on West Nile, Zika or ticks, visit www.cdc.gov. Quinnipiack Valley Health District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) without internet access can call 203 248-4528 for written information.