Sunday, 25 June, 2017 20:37

Arkansas Cities Prepare For Mosquito Season, Zika Virus Concerns

LITTLE ROCK — The mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus are found in Arkansas, a fact that health officials and city governments are keeping in mind as cases of the virus continue to be reported in parts of the U.S.

LITTLE ROCK — The mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus are found in Arkansas, a fact that health officials and city governments are keeping in mind as cases of the virus continue to be reported in parts of the U.S.

The virus, currently spreading fast across Central and South America, can be carried by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. So far, no cases have been reported of people contracting the virus from a mosquito bite in the U.S., but some have been diagnosed after returning from trips to countries where outbreaks are occurring, including one Arkansan whom the state Health Department has not identified.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed one case of the disease being contracted inside the U.S. by a person in Texas who had sex with a person who recently returned from Venezuela.

Health officials say the highest potential for the disease to spread in this country is through mosquitoes biting people who have become infected while traveling.

“The infectious stage lasts about a week to 10 days, so it’s possible if someone returned and they were infectious, then a mosquito could bite them and then bite another person and pass it on,” said state Health Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel.

Symptoms of the virus are usually mild or nonexistent, but the virus has been tentatively linked to birth defects.

“That link hasn’t been totally proven right now — I believe the CDC is studying it — but the main thing is that if you’re pregnant, you want to consider not traveling to these areas where there are Zika epidemics,” Mirivel said.

Anyone who travels to an area of Zika epidemic should avoid mosquitoes for a week to 10 days after returning, she said.

In Arkansas, mosquito season typically begins in April or May and continues until the weather turns cold, usually around October. There is no statewide program for controlling the mosquito population, but local governments typically run their own mosquito-control programs or contract with other entities for them, or both.

“It’s certainly on my mind,” Newport Mayor David Stewart said when asked about the Zika virus. “If it becomes a bigger problem than it is, we may be a little more aggressive with our spraying. We made need to start earlier, at the first sign of any mosquitoes, instead of waiting until our count gets up pretty good. We will be watching it very closely.”

Stewart said the city has a $200,000 annual budget for mosquito control, funded by a $4 fee on residents’ water bills. During mosquito season, crews are out spraying with seven trucks, six nights a week, as well as setting mosquito traps and putting larva-killing substances in standing water. An airplane is used for spraying a few times each summer, if the mosquito count is high.

Stewart said mosquito control is especially important for Newport because of the large number of rice farms with standing water in Jackson County.

“Out in the county during the peak time of the year, you can’t hardly breath, or you just can’t stay outside. But here in town, it’s not that way,” he said.

The city of Little Rock uses city crews for mosquito control and has a contract with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Biology Department, which sets traps for the insects. Solid Waste Services Manager Warren Atkins said the mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus also can carry the West Nile virus, so the city already targets them.

“If we’re already spraying those particular mosquitoes, I don’t know that we’re going to have any other change in our program,” he said.

Todd Matthews, who, as Fort Smith street supervisor, oversees the city’s mosquito-control program, said he has not heard of the city directors discussing the Zika virus yet but said that “I’m sure they’ll be talking about it.”

The Health Department says ways to avoid mosquito bites include using an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers; using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; and emptying standing water from containers even as small as a bottle cap.

The mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus are unusual in that they usually bite during the day, Mirivel said.



Tuesday, 23 May, 2017 19:09

June Bug Facts And How To Kill June Bugs

June bugs, also known as the June beetle or May beetle, can cause damage to many landscape plants and be a pest to the home gardener. June bug insects can be controlled though with a few steps. Let’s look at what are June bugs and how to get rid of June bugs.

What are June Bugs?

June bugs are scarab beetles. There are several different species that are commonly called June bugs and these include: Chafer Beetle Green June Beetle Japanese Beetle Ten-Lined June Beetle All of these pests appear roughly around late May through June, have roughly the same body shape with the oval back and pincers at the front and feed on the leaves of landscape plants. The grubs of these insects can also cause damage to lawn and turf grass. The damage is normally large brown areas in the grass than can be easily lifted from the ground.

How to Get Rid of June Bugs

All of the beetles that can be called June bugs are treated in the same way. To treat the grubs that cause lawn damage, you can apply an insecticide, like Sevin, to the lawn and then water the lawn to get the insecticide into the soil, or you can apply Bacillus thuringiensis or milky spore to the soil to kill the June bug grubs. Grub nematodes can also be applied to the soil to kill June bug grubs. Sevin or similar insecticides can also be applied to affected plants if the adult June bug is eating your plants. If you are looking for an organic method for how to kill June bugs, you can build a June bug trap. Use a jar or a bucket and place a white light at the top of the container with an inch or two of vegetable oil at the bottom of the jar or bucket. The container should be open so that the June bug can fly in towards the light. They will fall into the oil below and be unable to fly away again. Attracting small snakes, frogs and toads to your yard can also help get rid of June bugs as these are predators of this pest. Knowing how to get rid of June bugs can make the lawn and flowers in your garden a little safer.


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