The last week in June is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

There are more than 2,500 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. In addition, there are about 200 species in the U.S.

Mosquitoes can be an annoying, serious problem. They interfere with work and spoil hours of leisure time. Some are capable of transmitting diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, several different types of encephalitis, and West Nile virus to humans and animals.

At least 43 known mosquito species have been found infected with West Nile virus. In addition, many studies have been conducted in the United States and abroad about whether mosquitoes can transmit AIDS. According to research, there has never been a successful transfer of the virus from an infected source to another host by blood feeding insects under experimental conditions.

Although home owners can use mosquito traps, space sprays, foggers and mechanical barriers (screened doors and windows) to control the mosquito population, the most effective way to control mosquitoes is to find and eliminate their breeding sites.

1. Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns or in pet dishes for more than two days.

2. Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures, on flat roofs, or around watering troughs. Flush livestock water troughs twice a week. 

3. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week and stock ornamental pools with top-feeding predacious minnows.

4. Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to drain the water.

5. If ditches do not flow and contain stagnant water for one week or longer, they can produce large numbers of mosquitoes. Report such conditions to a Mosquito Control or Public Health Office. Do not attempt to clear these ditches because they may be protected by wetland regulations.

6. Use vegetation management. Adult mosquitoes prefer to rest on weeds and other vegetation. You can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes can find shelter by cutting down weeds and mowing regularly.

A relatively new product on the market is called Mosquito Dunks, which is a floating biological type of mosquito control. This is a product that uses natural BTis (Bacillus Thuringiensis) to treat standing water sources around your home, like ponds and small swamps for a period of 30 days. Although the bio-friendly larvicide does not harm things like fish and other animals in the water, it does kill black fly larvae.

For personal mosquito repelling here are some tips:

1. Catnip oil is 10 times more effective than DEET and completely safe on humans.

2. Apply bounce sheets to your arms and legs.

3. Burn a citronella candle or torch. The smoke in the air will help keep away bugs.

Kristi Hodson is a columnist for The Carthage Press.