How to Prevent Mosquito and Tick Diseases

Different Types of Mosquito Diseases

This graphic serves as a constant reminder, and a shock to some, that mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on our planet by a long shot. There are several diseases that are carried by mosquitoes and most have long-term health effects. In fact, we have several customers that have opted for our professional mosquito repellent services because they have contracted mosquito-borne diseases and now understand the consequences of what mosquitoes can bring.

Zika

Zika hit the news a couple of years ago here in the States, but it has been around much longer than that. It was discovered in 1947 with the first human case in 1952. Before 2007 at least 14 cases were documented, but it is possible that many more were missed.

Zika is spread via the Aedes egypti and albopicus mosquitoes, two species that like to bite during the day. The virus is sexually transmitted and can be spread to an unborn fetus if pregnant. It is thought (though not yet proven) to be transmitted through blood. There is currently no vaccine or medication available for Zika. Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain plus reddening of the eyes. Often these symptoms can be mistaken for the flu although Zika can be confirmed via a blood or urine test. Zika can result in microcephaly, miscarriage, still-birth, and Guillain-Barre.

West Nile

West Nile is spread from mosquitoes who have become infected by feeding on infected birds. In a small number of cases, it has been spread through blood transfusions and during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is NOT spread through handling live or dead infected birds (although the CDC recommends using gloves to handle any dead or injured bird). Most people have no symptoms, while 1 in 5 suffers from fever, headaches, joint and body aches, diarrhea or rash. The symptoms of fatigue and weakness can last for months. About 1 in 150 people will suffer from serious symptoms that affect the central nervous system, including encephalitis or meningitis. Symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness, coma, tremors, vision loss and paralysis. Recovery from West Nile can take many months. About 1 in 10 people who acquire CNS symptoms will die. West Nile can be confirmed with a test from the doctor.

Chikungunya

Prior to 2013, outbreaks of Chikungunya were identified in Africa, Asia and Europe. In later 2013 the first transmission in the Americas was identified in Caribbean countries. The virus then spread and has now been seen throughout the US.

Chikungunya is transmitted via a bite from an already infected mosquito. It is most often spread via the Aedes aegypti and albopictus mosquitoes, who bite during the day and night. It is rarely transmitted from mother to child and never via breastfeeding. 3-7 days after a bite from an infected mosquito, the patient will develop symptoms of fever and joint pain. These may be accompanied by a headache, muscle pain or joint swelling. Most patients feel better within a week, while younger or elderly patients may suffer from joint pain for months, and in some cases, the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Death is not as common but is possible. There is no vaccine or medication to treat the Chikungunya virus, which can be detected through testing. It is important, once diagnosed, to remain inside and prevent the possibility of mosquito bites (which would allow the virus to be spread to others).

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and sub-tropics with as many as 400 million people infected annually. WHO estimates that there are 22,000 deaths per year resulting from Dengue. The four dengue viruses originated in monkeys and jumped to humans 100-800 years ago. Dengue has been a worldwide problem since the 1950’s, particularly in Latin America, SE Asia and the Pacific. It is also endemic in Puerto Rico, while rare in the continental US. Aedes aegypti and albopictus are again the vectors, and once they bite an infected person they carry the infection for life, transmitting it to other humans as they bite. Symptoms typically begin 4-7 days after a bite and, in most cases, last 3-10 days. Dengue can be transmitted through blood transfusions and from mother to fetus, but these situations are rare.

Symptoms of Dengue include high fever, accompanied by at least two of these: a severe headache, severe eye pain, joint and muscle pain, rash, bleeding and low white blood cell count. If a patient’s fever drops and they then develop persistent vomiting, rashes, difficulty breathing or a host of additional symptoms, it is vital that they seek medical attention. While there is no specific treatment from Dengue, fluid replacement in a hospital can assist in treating the symptoms.

Malaria

In 2016 an estimated 445,000 people die of malaria, most deaths were young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Most vulnerable are children and pregnant women whose immunity has been lowered due to pregnancy. While Malaria is not currently an issue in the US, traveling to warmer regions near the equator (Africa and Papua New Guinea, for example) will be cause for great caution. You can visit the CDC traveler’s guide for a list of countries where Malaria is a concern. Malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito and is transmitted by mosquito bites from an infected person to another. Because the malaria parasite is found in red blood cells, transmission can also occur from sharing of needles, pregnancy or blood transfusions. Symptoms usually appear in 7-30 days but can take up to a full year to develop. These include high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can also occur along with anemia and jaundice. Without treatment, Malaria can result in severe illness including kidney failure, seizures, coma, even death.

Different Types of Tick Diseases

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted from the bite of the black-legged tick. These ticks are found in the NE, mid-Atlantic, north-central and pacific US. There are also cases around the Houston area each year. Most humans are infected through the bite of an immature tick, otherwise known as a nymph. These are tiny (2mm or less) and are difficult to see. Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence they can spread the disease to their owners, nor can a person spread it to another. Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy can lead to infection of the placenta and still-birth. However, if the mother received appropriate antibiotic treatment there will be no negative impact on the fetus.

3-30 days after a bite, symptoms develop and can include a headache, chills, fever, joint aches and swollen lymph nodes. About 70-80% of infected people will have a rash that begins at the site of the bite and spreads over time to about a foot or more across. Days to months later arthritis, facial palsy, intermittent pain in muscles and joints, heart palpitations, nerve pain and numbness can occur. Lab blood tests can confirm the presence of Lyme disease and antibiotic treatments early can mean a rapid and complete recovery. If treatment is delayed the patient can suffer from chronic Lyme disease.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (henceforth referred to as RMSF) is a serious and potentially deadly tickborne illness spread by several species of ticks in the US, including the American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. RMSF cases occur throughout the US, although they are most common in NC, TN, MS, AR and OK. Initially, signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, rash, nausea and vomiting, stomach and muscle pain and lack of appetite. A rash is a very common sign with RMSF usually developing 2-4 days after a bite. RMSF does not result in chronic or persistent infections although some who recover from severe RMSF can be left with permanent damage including amputation, hearing loss, paralysis or mental disability. Blood tests can confirm the illness although the results can take weeks to receive. Early treatment with antibiotics can prevent severe illness and death.

Prevention

Prevention of both mosquito and tick bites falls into two categories: protecting yourself and preventing issues in your yard.

How to prevent these problem areas: Keep gutters clear of debris, Drain old tires, REpair leaky faucets, Empty buckets and kids toys, Cut grass and shrubs short, Store upside down, Change water in birdbath once a week, Keep swimming pool cleanThe most effective way to prevent infection from the mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent bites. To do that wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, use a DEET insect repellant and treat your clothing as well. Prevent mosquito bites when going overseas by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net and when at home, keep those doors shut and outside lights off at night. Check out this great tip sheet from the CDC for more.

Download our Tick Prevention & Education flyer to learn more about tick control and how you can reduce your family’s exposure and the health risks that these pesky bugs carry.

If the mosquitoes and ticks in your yard have you feeling a little overwhelmed, the experts at Mosquito Joe of NW Houston & Brazos Valley can help! Our technicians will provide mosquito and tick repellent sprays for your yard which can prevent bites for up to 21 days. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat more about what our mosquito eliminating sprays can do for you so you can get back to enjoying the sunshine.

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Different Types of Mosquito Breeds in Texas

Do you know what types of Texas mosquitoes are bugging you?

There are 85 species of mosquitoes living in Texas. Even though there are over 3,000 species in the world, and 176 of those can be found in the USA, 85 still seems like a high number. However, when you consider the size of our great state of TX and the variation of weather within it, 85 actually seems like a reasonable number. Also remember that mosquitoes date back over 260 million years and classifications have been a work in progress for some time.

So which ones do we encounter in the Northwest Houston area? Keep reading to learn more about each of the different species that could be found in your very own backyard! We should first premise this by letting you know that there is an abundance of species in our area. We also note that many of the current maps are not reflective of what we see in the field. For example, we have located Aedes albopictus in areas not noted on the AgriLife maps. Still, to get a better sense of the breadth of species and locations in which they are found, you can visit here.

It is helpful to keep in mind a couple of facts about mosquitoes that apply to all the Genus below:

  • Only the female mosquitoes bite, and they do so to get the protein they need to lay eggs. When a mosquito bites you, you can be certain that she just bred and is preparing to start a new family.
  • Mosquitoes need stagnant water to lay their eggs in. Chlorinated water or circulating water (think pools and fountains) are not going to cut it for them.
  • Mosquitoes have a rapid life cycle so they don’t mess around. We did the math: one teaspoon of water allows for 300 eggs every 4-7 days. Given a 50% male to female ratio, one mosquito laying150 females will produce over 2 billion female mosquitoes in under a month – Yikes!

It’s probably easiest to begin with the genus of the mosquitoes we live within the Houston, Texas area. The genus groups mosquitoes by a common characteristic and just within our area, there are nine different kinds: the Aedes, Anopheles, Culex, Culiseta, Mansonia, Orthopodomyia, Psorophora, Toxorhynchites and Uranotaenia.

1. Aedes:

The Aedes mosquitoes are located on every continent except the Antarctic. They are visually distinct from other genus’s with black and white stripes on their body. These are the mosquitoes responsible for Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile, Chickungunya, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and the Zika virus. Most notable amongst these are the Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever Mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito). These guys are all over our area and are very aggressive. Unlike other species, they don’t mind the sun and are often seen during the day. These are responsible for the majority of calls we receive when folks are looking for a mosquito repellent service for their yard.

The Yellow Fever mosquito is the primary carrier of Zika and they lay eggs in the smallest amount of stagnant water – such as the water in flower vases, tires, and opened containers. They are active all year and prefer dawn and dusk.

The Asian Tiger was introduced into the States in 1985 in a shipment of tires to the Port of Houston. Since then they have spread up to NY State and as of 2017 have been found in every state in the US. They carry West Nile, Encephalitis, Dengue and heartworms. Asian Tigers take full advantage of any water in your yard – holes in trees and tires are popular breeding choices for the Asian Tiger mosquito. They are active all year and are aggressive daytime breeders.

2. Anopheles:

This genus is composed of 460 species, with 100 of those capable of transmitting Malaria, while others transmit Canine Heartworm.

Around Northwest Houston, the Anopheles quadrimaculatus, otherwise known as the Marsh Mosquito, is prevalent. These guys have a “tell” to help you identify them. Unlike other species, who rest on your skin with their body parallel to your limb, the marsh mosquito holds its body at an angle with its rear end raised. They are very dark in color with dark spots on their wings. After Hurricane Harvey, we saw a dramatic uptick in the number of marsh mosquitoes, a result of the massive increase of waters in our area. They prefer to lay their eggs in swamps, wet vegetation and around ponds and lakes.

The Anopheles freeboni is one of several species in Houston that are more active in the winter than the summer. Just when some other species are slowing down (mosquitoes don’t hibernate until temperatures fall under 50 degrees and remain there, something that never happens in Texas!) the freeboni is just getting started.

3. Culex:

The Culex genus is responsible for the transmission of West Nile, St. Louis Encephalitis and Avian Malaria. In our area, the most common of these is the Culex pipiens, also known as the house mosquito. These guys love feeding on nectar and a pile of decaying fruits is a perfect meal for them. If you happen to have fruit trees, keeping the ground clear of fallen fruits will help you control these pests in your yard. They also love wet trash, wastewater and bird baths. These guys generally don’t start biting until after dusk.

4. Culiseta:

The Culiseta is a genus of mosquitoes that are cold-adapted, meaning that they are active in the cooler months in our area and not during the summer. The Culiseta inornata, otherwise known as the Winter Marsh Mosquito, is common in Houston, Texas, more so with wet weather. We certainly saw an increase in them after Harvey. As the name suggests, these guys love stagnant water and wet vegetation.

5. Mansonia:

Mansonia mosquitoes are big and black or brown in color. They breed in ponds and lakes that contain floating plants and use the underside of the leaves to lay their eggs. The larvae use the rootlets to obtain their air supply. The best way to remove these mosquitoes is to remove their habitat by controlling floating plants on any bodies of water in your yard. They are also a potential vector for the Rift Valley Fever virus.

6. Orthopodomyia:

The beauties of the mosquito world, this genus is marked with bands of white, silver and sometimes gold. They lay their larvae predominantly in tree holes, or in bamboo and the females feed mostly on birds. Our technicians are always on the lookout for holes in trees, so we can get a jump start on killing their larvae. They may be pretty, but they still bite!

7. Psorophora:

A few species of this genus are in the Northwest Houston area. The Psorophora ciliata is a very large mosquito and is also very aggressive. Interestingly, they are known to prey on the larvae of other mosquito species, so while they are scary to look at, they at least help control other species. The females will lay eggs on damp ground, which can then hatch years later. The Psorophota columbiae is a floodwater mosquito that can travel up to 8 miles from its breeding area. We see them after large weather events and they are active both during the day and at night.

8. Toxorhynchites:

Otherwise known as Elephant Mosquitoes, these are the largest mosquitoes. These pesky bugs don’t feed on blood. Instead, feed on plants and fruits.

9. Uranotaenia:

These small mosquitoes use a multitude of habitats including holes, bamboo, plants and artificial containers. The good news is that the females rarely feed on humans, preferring reptiles and birds. Many of the species are attracted to light and are occasionally found resting in homes. Uranrtaenia lowii are found in our area.


Fortunately, Mosquito Joe of Northwest Houston and South Brazos Valley is here to help get rid of all these different types of mosquitoes that are found in our area of Texas. We can provide many mosquito repellent spray options for both your home and business including barrier spray treatments, all-natural sprays, special event sprays and more. Our team is knowledgeable about these mosquitoes and the best way to get them out of your yard ASAP. If you’d like more information on how we can help eliminate these pesky mosquitoes so you can get back to enjoying your outdoor space, give us a call at 281-815-0228 or email us at NWHoustonBrazos@MosquitoJoe.com.

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Nothing But Nets: Save Lives, Defeat Malaria

Mosquito Control Awareness Week is coming this June 24 – 30th and Mosquito Joe is busy preparing to get involved. We are continuing our partnership with Nothing But Nets. Last year, for each customer that signed for service, we donated $10 to the Nothing But Nets program. Ten dollars buys one insecticide-treated bed net to protect a family from malaria. In 2017 our customers raised $14,305 in donations, above and beyond the donations given by each Mosquito Joe location participating. We are really excited to be involved with this great organization and are looking forward to seeing our partnership grow every year. You can learn more about Nothing But Nets by visiting them on the web at www.nothingbutnets.net. Watch this space for an update on this years’ efforts and results!

Mosquito Control Solution - NW Houston & S Brazos ValleyThe American Mosquito Control Association heads up Mosquito Control Awareness Week every year and offers up tips and tricks to minimize mosquitoes in your yard. You can visit them at www.mosquito.org to learn more. They just released their newest video to celebrate the 83rd annual meeting of the association and you can see that here.

Meanwhile, there are some other fun happenings in June that you can check out, especially now that the kids are off school and antsy for excitement.

College Station - Mosquito Joe - Mosquito Control Awareness Week

The Summer Sunset Series kicks off in Bryan in June. Every Thursday this month you can head downtown for a free concert. This year the line-up includes The Nightowls, Cilantro Boombox, The Chubby Knuckle Choir, Steady Legend and Roxy Roca. Concerts run from 8 to 10 pm and the venue opens at 7:30.

The 8th Annual Tastefest kicks off on June 7th at the Lonestar Convention Center in Conroe. Running from 5-8pm, you can sample all the culinary delights for $25 (includes 2 adult beverages and all you can eat) for adults, while kids 5 and under are free. You can buy your tickets here.

Mosquito Joe - NW Houston & S Brazos ValleySpeaking of kids home for the summer, our area offers a number of fun summer camps to keep your little ones learning and busy. Everything from basketball to robot making, Karate to Lego’s, there are a variety of camps for kids of all ages to participate in. If you are looking for something closer to home, grab an inexpensive water slide or hose, water balloons or water guns, and let the kids have at it in the yard. With Mosquito Joe treating you can rest assured they will enjoy the fun and games without bites and fire ants to ruin the fun. However, you chose to spend your June, we hope you have one full of fun and free of bugs!

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The Month of May: Military Appreciation and Lyme Disease

May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. One of our very first customers called us because they suffered from Lyme Disease and wanted to make sure they were protecting their family and pets from the disease. As our name suggests, Mosquito Joe treats for mosquitoes, but we also treat for fleas and ticks. Since mosquitoes cause us the most instant annoyance when stepping outside, they tend to be the insect we are most often called for. Ticks, on the other hand, are more silent but the results of their bite can result in some serious health issues.

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorgeri bacterium and is carried and transmitted by the blacklegged tick. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash. The more serious issues arise if left untreated when infection can spread to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

NW Houston - Texas - Tick Control

The blacklegged tick is more commonly known as the deer tick. They have an interesting life cycle, beginning with the larval stage. These larvae are active in May to August and are most typically found in moist leaf piles. They will attach to small mammals and birds and remain attached for about 3 days before dropping off. Now known as Nymphs, they will remain at the edge of wooden areas and attach to smaller mammals such as mice, voles, cats and dogs, and, sorry to say, humans. Once fed, they again drop off and molt into adults. The adults are active from October to May and prefer animals such as the deer, or humans, for a blood source. The females (photo above) will lay an egg mass of 1,500-2,000 eggs before dying. And so the population explodes.

So how can you help control the population? Keep your lawn mowed and remove leaf litter in the spring. Try and stay on top of your pine needles piles as well, keeping the trails and paths in your wooded areas clear of vegetation. Of course, you can also add a tick service like ours to create a barrier around your property and keep them out.

If you want to get involved with fundraisers and awareness, visit the lyme disease website to learn more. Mosquito Joe - Tick Control - Magnolia, TX

May is also National Military Appreciation Month and we here at Mosquito Joe of NW Houston & S Brazos have a lot of appreciation! Our Lead Technician, Kyle, has been with us since 2015 and is a 17-year Navy veteran. Since hiring him we have learned the incredible value that veterans bring, not only when they serve, but after they retire. We made the decision to focus on hiring veterans and are working with the Texas Veterans Commission to grow our technician force. So far the Navy, Air Force and Army have been serving our customers with care, concern and a steady focus.

There are, in fact, 6 days of national observance in May that revolve around our military. Loyalty Day on May 1, Public Service Recognition Week, beginning May 6th, VE Day on May 8th, Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 11th, Armed Forces Day on May 19th, and finally Memorial Day on the 28th.

Mosquito Control - Tick Control - Magnolia, TXIf you are interested in participating in some way during this month visit the NMAN website for more information. And if you want to make their day, let our technicians know how much you value their service.  They will appreciate hearing it and they are so deserving.

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Our Planet

Mosquito Joe - Earth Day - Love our EarthApril 22nd, 1970 marks the birth of Earth Day. Millions of people gathered to protest the negative impacts of industrial development on our planet. Since that time, Earth Day has grown into a movement with participation by over 192 countries and over one billion people. Earth Day this year is focusing on ending plastic pollution. Currently, 300 million TONS (yes, tons!) of plastic is produced each year, and only 10% of that is recycled. According to some sources, more plastic has been produced and used in the last decade than in the entirety of the 20th century. While the push to increase recycling continues, this year Earth Day Network is asking everyone to commit to reducing the use of plastics and instead switch to sustainable alternatives. You can learn more about pledging and committing to reduce waste by clicking here.

Houston has its own website for Earth Day where you can request more information, or you can like them on Facebook. Big changes start with each and every one of us, so get involved and start making an impact!

Speaking of making an impact, last year Mosquito Joe partnered with Nothing But Nets in their fight against malaria. For each Mosquito Joe | Nothing But Nets Partnershipnew customer serviced during Mosquito Control Awareness Week, Mosquito Joe donated $10 to Nothing But Nets. Each donation paid for an insecticide-treated net for a family in Sub-Sahara Africa. We collected $14,100 in donations as a company and raised over $20,000 with donation matching. That’s over 2,000 nets! You can read more about the partnership here.

World Malaria Day is April 25th, and what better time to reach out and make a donation! Every 2 minutes a child dies from malaria and nearly half the world’s population is at risk. Visit their website to learn more about Nothing But Nets. We look forward to continuing our work with them this year and with your help, plan on exceeding our donation from last year.

In keeping with our global outlook, we want to make mention of one last celebration this month! Arbor Day falls on April 27th this year. There are so many activities and ways to get involved that it would be impossible to list them all here. You can visit this link for information specific to Texas and find some local goings-on, including Montgomery, Conroe, Brenham and Bryan.

Mosquito Joe of NW Houston & S Brazos Valley - Arbor Day 2018Arbor Day has its roots in Nebraska when Julius Morton made his way there from Detroit. He became the editor of Nebraska’s first Newspaper and disseminated information on agriculture and trees to his audience. Pioneers who read his paper started planting trees to help protect them from the wind and to provide building material for their homes. These days, Arbor Day is recognized in all 50 states and looks to the future, rather than the past. Arbor Day is about recognizing the vital role that trees play in our world and the needs of future generations.

So this April, replace your plastics, donate a net and plant a tree! Together we can all make the world a better place.

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