Mosquitoes: Learn about the city’s testing program and tips to prevent breeding

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The calendar may say fall, but the temperature says summer and that means mosquito season.

Not only are they a nuisance, but mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus. According to Tarrant County Public Health, there are more than 30 species of mosquitoes in Tarrant County. While not all mosquitoes carry disease, the best way to prevent mosquito borne illness it to keep them from breeding.

“Mosquito control is considered one of the main public health concerns in Tarrant County,” said City of Mansfield Environmental Health Specialist Cameron Cowden. “So mosquito control is ultimately a community effort.”

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Dump That Water

All immature stages of mosquitoes, such as egg larvae and pupae, live in water. After a brief rain or regular irrigation, water can collect in common outdoor spaces such as buckets, birdbaths, empty cups, plastic bags, gutters and kid’s toys. Mosquitoes are very resourceful and can lay eggs in places as small as bottle caps. Not only are mosquitoes a danger to humans, they can also infect dogs (heartworms) and horses (eastern equine encephalitis). Help keep yourself, your family and your pets safe – make it a habit after a rain event or watering the lawn to check for possible places where water may accumulate, and dump out the water to prevent breeding.

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Mosquito Testing Program

The City of Mansfield, in conjunction with the Tarrant County Health Department, participates in a surveillance and testing program each May to November (or the first freeze). Live mosquitoes are captured with traps that can be set up in targeted locations throughout the city. The captured mosquitoes are sent to the county laboratory to test for West Nile Virus. Each week traps are set on Monday morning, collected on Tuesday morning and then delivered to the Tarrant County Health Department for testing. Test results are delivered to the city every Friday morning. What happens if a test comes back positive for West Nile? If two or more consecutive weeks yield positive results for West Nile, the city will then schedule to spray for mosquitoes and communicate to residents when and where via Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter and e-newsletter.

Check out this brief video about how the city collects mosquito samples for testing:

Information about West Nile Virus

  • West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread by the culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes that become infected with the virus when they feed on infected birds.
  • Culex mosquitos bite between dusk and dawn and can breed in anything that collects water.
  • Culex mosquitos live only a few weeks during the summer.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV have no symptoms. Only about 20 percent will get sick.
  • About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
  • Most people recover completely, but fatigue or weakness can last for weeks or months.
  • In rare cases WNV can cause serious symptoms and even death.

Fun Facts about Mosquitoes

  • Mosquitoes are known as from as far back as the Triassic Period – 400 million years ago.
  • The average mosquito weighs about 2.5 milligrams.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide, lactic acid and octenol found in our breath and sweat.
  • There are around 3,500 species of mosquitoes, but only a couple hundred feast on human blood.
  • The female’s saliva contains an anticoagulant, which causes an allergic response – that’s why your skin gets an itchy bump.

Visit the city’s mosquito control webpage for more information about the program, how to protect yourself and your family and how you can help reduce the mosquito population.

Sources: Smithsonian.com, The American Mosquito Association, EPA, Tarrant County Public Health, U.S. Department of Health, and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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