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Mosquito season gets early start

COVINGTON -- Mosquito season has already arrived in Georgia and this season promises to be especially fierce due to a mild winter and recent rains.

Greg Sweat, regional vice president for South Central Atlanta for Arrow Exterminators, which has a local office in Conyers, said the wet weather means more mosquitoes because there are more places for them to breed. It takes only 10 to 14 days for an egg to develop into an adult, and they will travel up to 14 miles for food.

Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of standing water. Arrow is already getting calls about mosquitoes this year, he said. As the weather has been in the 70s and even the 80s already, more people are heading outside as well, which means they're being bothered by the insects earlier than typical. That isn't just annoying; it can also be dangerous.

In addition to leaving behind itchy red bites, they can also spread diseases like West Nile Virus and encephalitis.

Sweat recommended using a bug spray with DEET as a protectant. To reduce breeding sites on your property, try to reduce areas where water may collect. Sweat said it's typical to find toys, planter boxes, plants, birdbaths and gutters clogged with standing water. Eliminating those sources of standing water from the yard, keeping gutters cleaned out and covering swimming pools when they aren't in use are recommended.

Also, screen doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside the home and burn yellow bug light bulbs in outdoor light fixtures to reduce the number of flying insects around the home. Insects are attracted to white light.

Sweat said citizens should educate themselves on how to take protective measures and if those fail, pest control companies like Arrow will come out and do an assessment of breeding grounds on individual properties and prescribe a treatment.

The city of Covington will soon begin spraying for mosquitoes from 7 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with all areas of the city to be sprayed once a week, said Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon.