From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Almost everyone who spends time outdoors has experienced mosquitoes at one time or another. These bloodsucking insects give itchy bites and can spread disease.
Mosquitoes can spread viruses such as West Nile, Zika, dengue and malaria. A 2021 World Health Organization report estimated that there were 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020.
But there are things people can do to reduce mosquitoes. You can make it harder for them to reproduce. And you can protect yourself.
Jessica Damiano is a garden expert. She writes about the outdoors for the Associated Press. In a recent story, Damiano said prevention is the best control. In that story, she offered suggestions on how to reduce mosquito populations where you live.
It may seem difficult to avoid mosquitoes. Some parts of the world are densely populated with it. People who live near bodies of water can experience more mosquitoes. But there are several measures you can take to reduce their numbers.
Mosquitoes need less than an inch of water to lay eggs. A female can lay hundreds of eggs at once. So check your property for standing water. Water can be easily collected in small containers – children’s toys, a garbage can lid or a cooking pot.
Get rid of standing water, even if the amount seems small. Make holes in the bottom of containers that may contain unwanted water.
Other water sources such as ponds and bird baths can be treated with chemicals.
Damiano suggests a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or simply Bti. The bacterium is a safe and effective way to kill mosquitoes larvae. There are different types of Bti available. Each targets different insects. So make sure to buy the one to fight mosquitoes.
Bti also comes in a variety of forms, including ring-shaped products called “Mosquito Dunks.” These rings float in the water and offer 30 days of protection. Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say mosquito dips “…will not harm people, pets, and other animals,” and other insects, including honeybees.
You can also make your own mosquito trap. Place a handful of straw, hay, or grass clippings in a dark-colored container filled with water. Let it stand for one to two days. Then add a mug dunk.
If you have a lot of mosquitoes, place several containers nearby. decomposing organic matter will to attract the insects. They lay eggs on the treated water. Change the water every 30 days and add new chemicals to stop future generations of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes also like overgrown plants. Keep your garden organized. Do not let plants grow too tall.
Running a fan at high speed reduces mosquito activity. It works by simply blowing the insects away. Every time we exhale, carbon dioxide from our breath attracts mosquitoes. A fan can help get rid of our carbon dioxide quickly.
Damiano suggests avoiding chemical poisons sprays. These can threaten beneficial insects. These chemicals, she warns, control only a small fraction of the adult mosquito population. Also, she said, insect venoms need to be used several times per season to work effectively.
Damiano says so-called “mosquito plants” are sold as mosquitoes repellents contain oils or chemicals that repel mosquitoes. But the plants don’t keep mosquitoes away unless those chemical compounds are released, usually by crushing the leaves. Only having such a plant nearby does not help.
Some studies claim that citronella and lemongrass oil may provide some protection. But that has not yet been proven, according to Damiano. They can simply hide human scent.
There are other things you can do to protect yourself. Laying screens in your doors and windows or keep them closed. Wear long clothes. And limit time outdoors between early evening and early morning. Mosquitoes are most active during that time.
Are mosquitoes all bad?
When hunting to kill mosquitoes, you may wonder if they serve a particular purpose. Mosquitoes are pollinatorsmeaning they help some plants reproduce. And they are food for some animals, especially birds and bats. Some fish and turtles also eat mosquito larvae. But Damiano says getting rid of mosquitoes where you live won’t harm the environment.
And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.
I am Anna Matteo. And I’m Jill Robbins.
Jessica Damiano reported this story for The Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted her story for VOA Learning English.
Words in this story
itchy – adj. a feeling of wanting to scratch or rub the skin because of an unpleasant feeling on it
larvae – n. a young wingless form (like caterpillar or caterpillar) of many insects that hatch from an egg
parse –v. the natural process of slowly breaking down into simpler materials
to attract –v. to make something come to a place
spray – n. liquid squeezed from a container to cover a small area
repellent – n. a substance used to keep something away
screen – n. a woven material held together at the sides by wood or metal placed in windows to prevent insects from entering
pollinator – n. an animal, often an insect, that spreads pollen from plant to plant, allowing plants to produce seeds
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