There are around 200 different species of mosquitoes in the United States, and if you’ve spent time outdoors in warmer weather, you’ve probably encountered a mosquito—or thirty. While itchy bites (a reaction to the mosquito’s saliva) can be annoying, the possibility of mosquito-borne diseases is more worrisome. You may have heard about one that has recently found its way here: the Chikungunya virus.
One of the earliest Chikungunya (meaning “to become contorted” in the Kimakonde language) outbreaks occurred in the early 1950’s in Africa. More recently, the virus has been reported in the Caribbean. Since the beginning of this year, the CDC reports that several hundred travel-associated cases have been found in the United States, while a small number of locally-transmitted cases have been identified in Florida. Common symptoms are fever and joint pain, which may be accompanied by headache, muscle pain, or rash.
Knowledge and prevention are key to protecting yourself against mosquito-borne diseases.
Protect yourself and your loved ones with repellants
While conventional insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET are an effective way to prevent insect bites, biologically-based “biopesticide” products can also help keep pesky mosquitoes at bay. Biopesticides such as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective as mosquito repellents and can be found in many repellent products. With EPA’s online tool, you can search for and find the repellent that is best for you. Our website also offers tips to help protect yourself from mosquitoes.
EPA recently unveiled a new graphic that will help you make more informed choices about how and when to apply repellents. You should start seeing the new graphic next mosquito season.
Tips for controlling mosquito growth
The first step to control mosquitoes around your home is making sure they don’t have a place to lay their eggs. EPA offers tips for limiting areas where mosquitoes breed.
EPA also registers biopesticide products with the active ingredient methoprene, and with strains of bacterial insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or Bacillus sphaericus. These products control mosquito larvae in standing water and help reduce the adult mosquito population.