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Don’t let mosquitoes bug you this summer

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
June 29, 2009
— You’re on your evening walk and working up a sweat.

As you approach a shaded area along the creek bed, you hear that familiar whine in your ear. A couple strides later, you feel that nip on the back of your leg. You smack, but a pesky mosquito dives in for another bite, this time on the back of your sweaty arm.


You wonder if the mosquito population is worse.


It’s not, according to Phil Pellitteri, UW-Madison entomologist.


“Most of last year and this year are what I consider normal. I have seen nothing to indicate an outrageous population,” he said.


In 2005 and 2006, we enjoyed an unusually low number of mosquitoes, Pellitteri said.


“So people get spoiled,” he said.


The bottom line, Pellitteri said: “If you live in Wisconsin and it’s June or July, it’s not normal to be able to barbecue without getting chased in the house by mosquitoes.”


Caddis flies

People who live and work near the Rock River soon might see relief from pesky caddis flies, aquatic insects that enjoy clinging to your car or window screen.


The adult caddis fly has a relatively short lifespan—three to four days—and usually is found in June, maybe July, Pellitteri said. They can emerge until October, however, depending on the species, he said.


The insects don’t bite or sting, but they do cling to things, he said.


Pellitteri said he doesn’t associate them with flooding, so last year’s flooding shouldn’t have caused any increase.


They are strongly attracted to lights, he said. Home security lighting is good, but think about where the light is, Pellitteri said. Put a light on a pole shining at your front door instead of having a light over your front door.


“You don’t want to draw things to a building if you can help it,” he said.


Also, avoid UV lights because insects respond well to them, he said.


AVOID THE BITE

Phil Pellitteri, UW-Madison entomologist, offered these tips to avoid mosquitoes:


-- Promote airflow—Mosquitoes are weak fliers. Set up a fan on the patio. The more airflow you get the better you’ll be protected without using chemical repellents.


-- Eliminate hiding places—Keep grass cut. The more lush the vegetation, the more hiding places it offers for mosquitoes.


-- Wear light colored clothes—Mosquitoes are drawn to large, dark objects.


-- Be less active—When people are active, they give off more carbon dioxide. Sitting is better than huffing and puffing.


-- Repellents—Lemon eucalyptus and soybean oil are two natural repellents along with a synthetic eucalyptus, citronella and other repellents scientifically proven to work as well as DEET, but their effectiveness varies with concentration.



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