There are ways to get the bugs out of mosquito season


May 02, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

It's bug season. They swarm around your barbecue, attack you as you mow your lawn, attach themselves to you during weekend walks, ruin fishing trips and, well, they just make life miserable. And, Carroll County is loaded with them.

Whether you live on a farm or in one of the county's housing developments, or on your very own acre-and-a-half, chances are that you're next door to one of Carroll's famed wood lots or ponds. Welcome to Mosquito Heaven.

According to some facts that recently crossed my desk, 10 trillion mosquitoes are expected across the United States between now and the end of summer. That dizzy figure translates to something like 41,000 mosquitoes per American, and I'm convinced that I battle my share every year.

The female will bite one to four times during her seasonal life span, but she also will attack animals and birds. If humans were the only item on her menu, the average American would be scratching 100 bites every day.

Some tips for avoiding bites include:

* Applying repellent to all exposed skin before going outside and spraying non-synthetic clothes. Anglers should be aware that most repellents will dissolve mono fishing lines, so apply the stuff to the backs of your hands and spread it.

* Reduce your backyard mosquito population by emptying any open containers after a rain. Fill in drain areas where water stands, such as gutters, ditches and low areas in your lawn or drive.

* Campers should repair any holes they find in their tents and should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in early morning and early evenings. Expose as little skin as possible.

Mosquitoes and ticks can cause serious illnesses such as encephalitis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is especially dangerous to Carroll residents due to the rural landscape and lifestyles. It is an illness that if not promptly diagnosed and treated can cause serious problems involving the heart, joints and nervous system. The disease is spread by the bite of a tick that is no bigger than a pinhead.

I first heard about Lyme disease a number of years back when my friend, Bill Perry, contracted it. His was one of the first cases reported inMaryland and was diagnosed quickly and successfully treated.

My sources tell me that more than 50,000 cases have been documented in the United States since 1980. However, Lyme disease experts say this number may vastly underestimate the true incidence of the disease because many cases are missed or go unreported.

Experts believe the increase is partially the result of new house building in and on wooded lots and that describes Carroll County development for more than a decade. Look around the area to get a picture of the scope of the potential problem.

The deer tick, which is the carrier -- not the common woods tick that is also so plentiful throughout Carroll -- inhabits the wood lots on which new homes are being built.

The departments of Natural Resources and Health report that hosts capable of carrying Lyme disease ticks (deer ticks) include mice, deer, bears, chipmunks, birds, squirrels and groundhogs. The ticks pick up the disease by feeding on an infected host and then pass it on at later feedings to other hosts.

To protect yourself from ticks, wear long sleeves and pants when in the woods and tuck your pants cuffs into your socks. Light colors are best and it is believed that collars help. A hat also is recommended. I always spray repellent on my clothes and especially around my ankles if I anticipate being in high grass.

If, after being outdoors, you discover a tick attached to your skin,experts recommend that you use tweezers to grasp the tick's head as close to your skin as possible and slowly pull it straight out. Save the tick for medical inspection by placing it in a covered jar if you suspect it to be a deer tick.

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