It’s not the creek, muddy lake or swimming pool in your neighborhood that’s producing this summer’s bumper crop of mosquitoes. University of Northern Iowa entomologist David Mercer is a biology professor who says a body of open water is less likely than a quiet pool, especially one that’s polluted. A natural pool or manmade container that holds water and starts to collect decaying organic material, even the decaying sidewall of an abandoned tire, provides both a home and food for mosquitoes that are in their immature form. Professor Mercer says there’s no point in asking local government to spray bugs when so much can be done right in your own backyard. We need to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your backyard, with things as simple as emptying the dog’s dish, emptying the birdbath, and cleaning out rain gutters choked with leaves so the water flows, and doesn’t sit in a stagnant pool. Mercer says with lots of fish and other predators, even swampy wetlands are likely to produce fewer mosquitoes than the bucket in the backyard or pool in the pasture. Mercer says there are many kinds of biting bugs and not all are culprits in carrying disease. There are some that “are only annoying,” he notes, and some that are annoying but also carry disease — and he says mosquitoes hatched in your backyard are not likely to be the kind that are “vectors” or living carriers, of West Nile.
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