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Pest Control

Mosquito Control - The Easy Way

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

West Nile Virus is a genuine concern, but you can greatly diminish the chances of contracting the illness from mosquito bites by taking action early in the season. Consider making the area around your patio and your backyard a home improvement priority this spring. If you're really concerned - you live in a wet region near rivers and streams, or if your yard has large amounts of standing water - you may want to contact a local pest control service.

West Nile encephalitis, which results in an inflammation of the brain, is caused by mosquito-borne viruses and bacteria. Its earliest detection in the United States was in the late 1990s along the Eastern seaboard, but is now found throughout the country, and in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In your yard, standing water can be a refuge to thousands of mosquito larvae waiting to hatch in warm weather.

If you want to track reports of this year's transit of the virus, the U.S. Geological Survey keeps current records on an interactive United States atlas at http://westnilemaps.usgs.gov.

You don't need a landscape contractor to point out your problem zones, although a good contractor can spare you considerable heartache by installing birdbaths, pools, fountains, and gutters correctly to provide adequate drainage.

Controlling Pests at Home

First, drain or cover all standing water with dirt - immediately. If you have flowerpots, fishponds, large planters, ponds, buckets, and birdbaths that seem suspect, you can buy larvicide products at your home improvement store that will keep mosquitoes from hatching.

Make sure your gutters are clear all year round. If you can't clean them yourself, call a contractor to do it for you. Use citronella while outdoors and apply repellent with DEET. As part of your springtime home improvement project, replace your outdoor bulbs with 'bug lights.'

You might add a round of window screen inspections to your home improvement to-do list as well. Replace worn or tattered screens and make sure all your patio screens are intact. Be sure the patio doors as well as any screen doors to your home close tightly without air leaks. Prevention is always sound medicine.

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About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.