K9 Corner

Published 7:51 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

Need to continue mosquito patrol

 I checked the weather channel and was informed that we will continue having daytime temperatures in the 60-degree range and nighttime temperatures in the mid to high 40-degree range for at least the next 14 days maybe longer. So I will call this column the need for continued mosquito patrol.

 Mosquitoes carry a number of diseases that affect humans, but they also carry one specific disease that affects dogs – heartworm microfilaria. It seems impossible that such a fragile looking insect could carry disease organisms but they do. Actually not every mosquito is a carrier; it’s just the ones that can infect you or your dog that you need to avoid.

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 How to do that? Walk your property, around the perimeter, up and down the area checking for low spots that are holding water as well as around trees and rock gardens. I have an old but sturdy tree that has a large root on top of the ground. Obviously when the tree was younger, people ran their lawn mower over this root. Years passed and the tree healed the cuts and the root grew too large for any further damage. Yet I was surprised to discover that while healing the cuts, the tree created a large indentation deep enough to hold about 2/3 of a cup of water.

 Now that it has been proven that mosquitoes can lay eggs in water contained in a bottle cap (I have a hard time believing that that little bit of  water would not evaporate in the four days to a week or more it takes some mosquito eggs to develop into mosquitoes – but that’s another story). 

Still, there is a vast difference between a bottle cap with water and a tree root holding 2/3 cup of water. The tree root is in deep shade making a perfect place for a mosquito nursery. As a precaution, I contacted the county extension office and learned that there are mosquito larvicides available that will not harm vegetation, including trees, or fish if you want to use it in your fish pond, or your pets that might want to play in the water or drink from a puddle.

To give you some background on mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a web site that gives the life cycle of the creatures. There are four stages: eggs which are planted on the side of the container; the larvae which hatch from the eggs and drop into the water; the pupa which form in the water; and finally the adult mosquitoes that emerge from the pupa and fly away. The CDC states that the complexity of the life cycle from terrestrial to aquatic back to terrestrial makes it difficult to understand where mosquitoes come from.

Evidently it is impossible to kill the eggs, but the larvicide recommended can be placed in the water, in my case the tree root, and the larvae that hatch will die shortly after they drop into the water.