Living in Central Texas, we all know that the arrival of mosquitoes is the first familiar sign that the swelter of Austin summer is close at hand. But the threat of the mosquito-borne Zika virus has put the region more on edge.
Terminix, the pest control service you might have called to get rid of termites in your home, has compiled a list of the nation’s top 20 cities most affected by mosquitoes. Texas has four cities in the top 10, with Austin at No. 8.
The extermination company looked at service data from its branches across the country for a year, starting on April 1, 2016, and determined that these cities are the most pestered by mosquitoes:
1. Dallas-Fort Worth
3. San Antonio
5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
7. Nashville, Tenn.
8. Austin-Round Rock
9. Mobile, Ala.
10. Jacksonville, Fla.
11. Cincinnati, Ohio
12. Washington, D.C.
13. Tampa, Fla.
14. Louisville, Ky.
15. Baton Rouge, La.
16. Little Rock, Ark.
17. Tulsa, Okla.
18. Birmingham, Ala.
19. Oklahoma City
20. Indianapolis, Ind.
The prevalence of mosquitoes in Austin can be explained by climate and geography. The city is at a latitude enough south that spring and summer are characterized by mosquito-friendly temperatures. Prevailing southeast winds carry tropical humidity into Central Texas. Such moisture, combined with the warmth, makes it easier for mosquitoes to breed.
But health experts are worried about Zika, as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, chikungunya and dengue. They suggest these actions to reduce the number of mosquitoes on your property:
- Remove sources of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
- Clean out the gutters to get rid of a sources of standing water.
- Empty or replace water in outdoor pet bowls, fountains and birdbaths, rain barrels and plant containers weekly to break the mosquito breeding cycle.
- Replace outdoor lighting with special “bug lights” that emit a different type of light than typical light bulbs and can help attract fewer mosquitoes.
- Seal and screen entry points into your home or garage through the tiniest of openings.