How to Cut Down on Mosquitoes

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Almost everyone who spends time outdoors has experienced mosquitoes. Give these blood-sucking insects itchy bites and can transmit diseases.

Mosquitoes can spread viruses like West Nile, Zika, Dengue, and Malaria. A 2021 World Health Organization report estimates that there were 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020.

But there are things people can do to curb mosquitoes. You can make it difficult for them to reproduce. And you can protect yourself.

Jessica Damiano is a gardening expert. She writes about outdoor life for the Associated Press. In a recent story, Damiano said the best control is prevention. In this story, she offered suggestions on how to reduce mosquito populations where you live.

It may seem difficult to avoid mosquitoes. Some areas of the world are densely populated with them. People who live near bodies of water can experience more mosquitoes. But there are several measures you can take to reduce their numbers.

Mosquitoes need less than an inch of water to lay eggs. A female can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Therefore, check your property for standing water. Small containers — a child’s toy, a trash can lid, or a saucepan — can easily collect water.

Get rid of standing water, even if the crowd seems small. Make holes in the bottom of containers that can hold unwanted water.

Other water sources such as ponds and bird baths can be treated with chemicals.

Damiano suggests a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or short Bti. The bacterium is a safe and effective way to kill mosquitoes larvae. Several types of Bti are available. Each targets different insects. So be sure to buy the one that targets mosquitoes.

Bti also comes in a variety of forms, including ring-shaped products called “Mosquito Dunks”. These rings float in water and offer 30 days of protection. Experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say mosquito dunks “do no harm to humans, pets or other animals” and do not harm other insects, including honey bees.

This image provided by Summit Chemical Company shows a Mosquito Dunk swimming in a fish pond.  The product's active ingredient, Bti, is a strain of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae in standing water.  (Summit Chemical Company via AP)

This image provided by Summit Chemical Company shows a Mosquito Dunk swimming in a fish pond. The product’s active ingredient, Bti, is a strain of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae in standing water. (Summit Chemical Company via AP)

You can also make your own mosquito trap. Place a handful of straw, hay or grass clippings in a dark container filled with water. Leave it on for a day or two. Then add a mosquito dunk.

If you have a lot of mosquitoes, place several containers around the area. Decompose organic matter becomes attract The insects. They will lay eggs on the treated water. Change the water and add new chemicals every 30 days to stop future generations of mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes also like overgrown plants. Keep your garden organized. Don’t let the plants grow too tall.

Running a fan at high speed will reduce mosquito activity. It works by simply blowing the bugs away. Also, every time we exhale, carbon dioxide from our breath attracts mosquitoes. A fan can help get rid of our carbon dioxide quickly.

Damiano suggests avoiding chemical poisons sprays. These can threaten helpful insects. These chemicals, she warns, only control a small portion of the adult mosquito population. Also, she said, insecticides need to be used multiple times in a season to be effective.

Damiano says so-called “mosquito plants” are sold as mosquitoes repellent contain oils or chemicals that repel mosquitoes. But the plants don’t keep mosquitoes away unless those chemical compounds are released, usually by crushing the leaves. Just having such a plant nearby will not help.

Some studies claim that citronella and lemongrass oils may provide some protection. But Damiano believes this hasn’t been proven yet. You can just hide the human smell.

There are other things you can do to protect yourself. Place screens in your doors and windows or keep them closed. Wear long clothes. And reduce the time you spend outdoors between early evening and early morning. Mosquitoes are most active during this time.

Are Mosquitoes All Bad?

When hunting mosquitoes, you may wonder if they serve a specific purpose. mosquitoes are pollinatorwhich means they help some plants to propagate. And they are food for some animals, especially birds and bats. Some fish and turtles also eat mosquito larvae. But Damiano says getting rid of mosquitoes where you live doesn’t harm the environment.

And this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Anna Matteo. And I’m Jill Robbins.

Jessica Damiano reported this story for The Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted her story for VOA Learning English.

Quiz – How to reduce mosquitoes

Quiz - How to reduce mosquitoes

Take the quiz to find out


words in this story

itchy – adj. a feeling of scratching or rubbing the skin due to an uncomfortable feeling

larvae – n. a young wingless form (as a larva or caterpillar) of many insects that hatches from an egg

decompose -v. the natural process of slow decay into simpler materials

attract -v. let something come to a place

spray – n. Liquid squeezed out of a container to cover a small area

dismissive – n. a substance used to keep something away

Screen – n. a woven material held together at the sides by wood or metal and placed in windows to keep insects out

pollinator – n. an animal, often an insect, that spreads pollen from plant to plant so plants can produce seeds


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