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Backyard Blogging.

ZIKA, West Nile Virus and Mosquitoes

We are so grateful for all the rain we’ve had, but we bet you agree the mosquitoes are thick this summer!

Mosquitoes love water because they require it to breed. This is why our rainy spring has led to a mosquito-filled summer.

In this article, we’re going to talk about Zika, West Nile Virus and mosquitoes. You’ll learn how to keep mosquitoes away from your swimming pool.

Get Rid of Breeding Grounds

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Your first step is to get rid of any standing water around your pool and in your backyard.

That means puddles, tree holes, old tires, buckets, potted plant trays and plastic covers. Change the water in bird baths, fountains and rain barrels at least once a week.

Take Care of Your Swimming Pool

Keep your swimming pool water clean and treated – if you’re performing recommended maintenance, your pool won’t become a breeding ground. Additionally, keep your water circulating.

Remember – mosquitoes are more likely to lay eggs in standing water, not circulating water.

If your cover is on your swimming pool, make sure to remove the water from it. Don’t let it sit. We’ve got products to help you keep water off your pool or hot tub cover.

Maintain Chlorine Levels in Swimming Pools to Prevent Mosquito Breeding

Here are recommendations from Water and Health:

Mosquitoes breed in standing water, not just the puddles and pools remaining following a rainstorm, but any still water that is not intentionally made inhospitable to breeding. For that reason, it is important to maintain appropriate chlorine levels in swimming pools and water storage tanks. Swimming pool water should be chlorinated in the range of 1-4 parts per million (ppm) and stored drinking water chlorine levels should be kept above 1 ppm free chlorine. This measure not only helps prevent mosquito-breeding, but also helps prevent a host of waterborne illnesses that can be contracted from bacteria and other pathogens in water.

The hatching larvae require microorganisms and detritus (decaying organic matter) in order to survive and develop into adult mosquitoes. Therefore, one of the best means of controlling the spread of West Nile Virus is to control the habitats that mosquitoes need for reproduction.

Clean Pool Toys

Dump water out of pool toys, rafts and other pool equipment after each use. Let them dry in the sun before storing.

As we mentioned earlier, old, stagnant water is a common breeding area for mosquitoes, and standing water in toys and rafts is the perfect invitation.

Swimming at Night

Mosquitoes are often at their worst at dusk and during the evening.

Replace your outdoor lights with yellow bug lights. These lights tend to attract fewer mosquitoes. You might find they help you get from house to pool without an attack!

The Neighbor’s Pool, A Breeding Ground

Unfortunately some of you may have a neighbor who doesn’t take care of their swimming pool. Or, you may live near a house that no one is living in.

For whatever reason – they go on vacation, the kids have left home, or they don’t have time tor money to care for their pool – your neighbor’s pool has become an eyesore and a big problem.

When pools are not kept clean and filtered they can turn into a perfect mosquito habitat. Pools that are full of algae and fallen tree leaves are the perfect food source for mosquito larvae, and the egg-laying mosquito knows it.

Did you know that ONE un-maintained pool can breed MILLIONS of mosquitoes. Once grown, they will bite you and all of your neighbors. If you have a neighbor with a pool like this, you can contact the City of Wichita’s Nuisance Department.

What If That Pool is Yours?

What if the breeding ground is actually your pool?

If you don’t plan to use your pool, cover it to prevent a swamp.  Maintain a minimum chlorine level of 1.0-4.0 PPM because even with a cover on the pool, it will get algae if the water is warm.

Lift up the corners of the cover to add sanitizer every 2 – 4 weeks depending on how hot the weather is.  If you don’t winterize your pool, you can still run the pump once a week to circulate the water and distribute the sanitizer.

Be a good neighbor and take care of your pool before a problem starts!

Now, let’s look examine the mosquito and its presence in our area.

West Nile and Zika

According to KAKE, the West Nile Virus is in Kansas. The most significant mode of transmission is via mosquito bites.

According to KWCH, Zika is also in Kansas, but cases so far are travel-related. So, Zika has not been transmitted locally (yet).

In order to gauge mosquito’s potential impact on pools and spas, we must consider a few simple facts about the virus and the mosquitoes that carry it.

The Mosquito Bite

People usually become infected with the West Nile Virus after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.

The CDC points out that while most people who get West Nile have no symptoms, but some develop an illness called West Nile Fever.  Since the illness is relatively mild and short lived, infected persons may never seek medical attention.

However, a small number of individuals, perhaps less than one out of 100, develop potentially fatal diseases called West Nile Encephalitis or West Nile Meningitis. These life-threatening illnesses result in the inflammation of the brain or the area around it and require hospitalization.

Zika is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also be spread by a man to his sex partners. It is of most danger to an unborn baby.

Helpful Tips for Homeowners

Follow these simple rules to help prevent the spread of mosquitoes around your home and reduce your chances of being bitten.

1. Always maintain the appropriate levels of an EPA-registered sanitizer in your pool or spa.  Never allow the pool or spa water to operate without a sanitizer or become stagnant.  An untreated or stagnant pool or spa provides mosquito larvae with adequate supplies of microorganisms and organic debris needed for their development into adult mosquitoes.

2. Don’t neglect maintenance.  Brushing, vacuuming, and filtration reduces the availability of organic debris that mosquito larvae need to survive.

3. Make certain that the water is properly balanced.

4. At least once a week, drain stagnant water sources such as pool covers, flower pots, buckets, pet dishes, birdbaths, etc.  Remember, by limiting the areas where mosquitoes can breed, we can also slow the spread of the West Nile Virus.

5. Mosquitoes can bite at anytime of day, but most species are exceptionally active from dusk until dawn.  Wearing mosquito-resistant clothing and using DEET containing repellents will decrease your chances for being bitten.

To Conclude

If you have more questions, please call or stop by one of our stores. We can help you make a plan to properly maintain your pool this summer for maximum enjoyment and help you keep the mosquitoes away from your pool!

NOTE:  Always follow label directions and manufacturer’s instructions for each product used.  Conditions may vary from pool to pool.  Ultra Modern Pool & Patio does not assume any responsibility or liability for the results that may be obtained through utilization of this or any other program, procedure or product.

Photo credit: Gilles San Martin via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA