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Rainy May brings out mosquitoes
Experts offer tips to best kill the pests
W MOSQUITO CONTROL 1
Statesboro Street Supervisor Robert Dixon, background, demonstrates the sprayer used to control mosquitoes. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
     The bane of the barbecue. The pest of the party. No matter how you look at it, mosquitoes are unwelcome guests at any outside gathering during the spring and summer months. And this year, they seem to be worse than ever.
      It's true, said Statesboro Streets Superintendent Robert Seamans. With plenty of recent rainfall following months and months of dry weather, the "skeeters" are out in force - call it a mosquito baby boom.
      For the last two years of drought, mosquitoes laid eggs, but those eggs didn't all hatch because of the dry weather, he said. The eggs lie dormant for months and months, but as soon as water comes - poof - a cloud of mosquitoes soon will be buzzing.
      Seamans' department is responsible for spraying the City of Statesboro for mosquitoes, using pyrethrins, chemicals that are mild and safe for humans and pets but lethal to insects. The department also uses a larvicide to kill those mosquitoes tat haven't fully formed into the bloodsucking pest we all love to hate.
      In addition to spreading disease, mosquitoes are annoying - whether they are buzzing in your ears or piercing your skin for a meal.
Seamans is well versed on mosquitoes. A former past president of the Georgia Mosquito Control Association, he is currently secretary/treasurer on the board of directors.
      Statesboro has been fortunate in that the mosquito invasion hasn't reached proportions such as areas like Valdosta have seen, he said.
      And while the pests are, well, pesky, the trade-off - more rain - is beneficial, said Bulloch County Agent Wes Harris.
      Bulloch County has seen more rainfall this May than any other May since 1989, he said.
      "We have a lot of standing water in places, and areas that are holding water that haven't been before," Harris said.
      The rainfall is replenishing the aquifer and helping farmers, but helping the mosquito population boom as well, he said.
      "I don't think it is as big a deal around here as it is in Atlanta," said Bill Moore, area branch manager for Yates-Astro.
      Empty houses in foreclosure pose a delight for mosquitoes but a hassle for citizens wanting to be outside - those empty and unattended swimming pools are breeding grounds.
      Green algae filled pools full of frogs and skeeters" are making the common summertime problem worse, he said.
      Also, "we didn't have a really cold winter," which helped keep those dormant mosquito eggs nice and warm, he said.
      Seamans said city workers spray the entire city once monthly, and then go back to areas where people complain about the buzzing bloodsuckers. The city is divided into seven zones and it takes seven days - one day for each zone - to spray. The best time to get a maximum kill is between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., he said.
      Moore said pest control companies use ultra low volume misting, applied when mosquitoes are most active, for at least a couple of days in a row to provide a couple weeks' relief.
      There are also other options for mosquito control, said Vicki Anderson whose family owns Anderson's General Store.
      A popular product is the Mosquito Magnet, which uses a propane tank. The propane is converted to carbon dioxide, which mimics human breath and lures mosquitoes to a trap, where they die of dehydration.
      Then there are products like Mosquito-B-Gon, which attaches to your garden hose and keeps your yard mosquito free for a couple of weeks after application.
      There are always the citronella products, candles, oils and even pins that can be worn to ward off the itch-inspiring pests, she said.
Seamans also encouraged people to "flip and tip." This means flipping over anything that could hold rainwater, which provides new breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and tipping over any container that is holding water.
      Currently, people who offer pest control services don't have to be certified, Moore said, but there is talk about certification being required in the future.
      Seamans said he and his workers train for three days annually in Athens, learning about new mosquito control products and techniques.
      The products used by homeowners are safe and effective, Harris said. They are biologically based and can be used without fear of harming fish or other water life, except the mosquito larvae, of course.
      Bug lights work well, too, he said.
      Anderson went a step further with mosquito control, reminding people that fly and insect sprays used on horses works well on dogs and cats, too.

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