The Star
June 16th, 2013
Dan Corcoran, Hometown News Group

With a slap of a hand against a forearm and some furious itching, mosquito season has officially, and unfortunately, begun in Wisconsin. Large rainfalls and snow melt from earlier in the spring season have allowed many opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and make their presence known with summer still on the cusp of officially starting.

In a recent interview, Wil-Kil Pest Control’s Shane McCoy provided some insight and advice about the mosquito, including where the pest does its breeding.

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“It’s where there’s going to be standing water – rivers, creeks, even streams, but it has to be stagnant water. In Wisconsin, over 21 percent of Wisconsin is water, so mosquitoes and Wisconsin go hand-in-hand. In North America, there’s 58 species of mosquitoes all together. Some states have 20, 30 species. Wisconsin has all 58,” McCoy said.

Wil-Kil – a company that is based in Sun Prairie and covers areas in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin – varies in the amount of mosquito treatments it does every year. Water is a key factor that, like last summer, can be almost nonexistent. Mosquitoes, though, only need a small amount of standing water to lay their eggs, and that standing water is what those with mosquito problems need to make sure they eliminate.

“It all depends on the season,” McCoy said of how often Wil-Kil performs mosquito abatements. “We could have times where we hardly do any mosquito jobs, but then we have a lot of rain like we’ve had lately and we’ll have an explosion of work and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have to have water. The female mosquitoes are always looking for water, so if we don’t have water, we’re not going to have mosquitoes. If we have a lot of water, there’s going to be a lot of mosquitoes.”

McCoy, a technical training director at Wil-Kil, also gave an overview of what the company provides to customers, ranging from residential treatments to mosquito treatments for corporate events.

“We’ll survey the area first [and] look for any kind of standing water, so just kind of make sure they take care of those standing water issues they have on the property. Then we would treat the landscape with a liquid insecticide,” McCoy said, regarding the process for a typical mosquito abatement. “You want a day where it’s sunny out. The pesticide will dry on the grass definitely within 30 minutes. As long as it’s dry, people and pets are allowed to go back into the area. We would also concentrate on what I call dark areas, brush, shrubs that provide some cover. That’s very important.”

A wide variety of measures exist to reduce the presence of mosquitoes that people can use on their own without the help of a professional company. Citronella candles, mosquito repellent and new repellent fans can be viable options for those looking for temporary relief, and pesticides are available for people to apply on their own to their lawn.

Although providing some relief, McCoy said the consumer options are not completely effective and some much less effective than others.

“There is some repellency with citronella candles. [Repellents and Off! clip-on fans] work a little bit. They do provide some relief. It’s some smoke coming out, and they do repel somewhat. It’s not going to be 100 percent. Some things that definitely don’t work are the bug zappers. Those tend to not work for mosquitoes. You’ll get a lot of other insects in there, sure – moths because they are attracted to light, but not mosquitoes,” McCoy said.

“It’s almost like Japanese beetle traps that people put out,” McCoy said of mosquito traps. “You might be bringing them to your house where you wouldn’t have actually gotten them in the first place. Now, if I wanted my neighbor to do that, it would be great. Maybe the ones here will go over there. So that’s kind of a double-edged sword, where yeah, you’re trapping a bunch, but really would you have had that population without attracting them in the first place?”

Outside of things like mosquito traps, lanterns and zappers that don’t work much, if at all, the best thing for people to do is dress in long sleeves and long pants and come prepared with repellents containing Deet, according to McCoy.

Also important to note is mosquitoes are most active from the hours of 7 p.m. to 1 p.m., and it is best to avoid being outside during dusk and dawn hours if possible. Mosquitoes are annoying in both sound and sting, but they are also transmitters of diseases including the West Nile Virus. There were only 57 cases in Wisconsin last year and four deaths, but the disease – transmitted only by mosquitoes – is still a possibility.

The best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to avoid mosquitoes, which can be helped by companies like Wil-Kil or the various other products and techniques described by McCoy. One of the best ways to prevent mosquitoes is to remove any standing water or places that water could accumulate in, so that mosquitoes cannot lay eggs and reproduce.

“I think if homeowners just made a conscious effort to go around their house,” McCoy said, “then that would pay huge dividends [in mosquito abatement].”