Mosquitoes are an annoyance people have to deal with all over the country. They might seem like no more than a nuisance, but these pests can transmit some pretty horrible diseases that turn them from a mere pest into a serious health threat. Knowing which species of mosquito, where it typically breeds and hangs around, and how you can protect yourself is essential to safeguarding you and your loved ones wellbeing.

There are around 40 different species of mosquitoes in Maine, but less than half of them are actually mosquitoes that bite and transmit diseases to humans. These are the mosquitoes that have been spreading diseases such as the West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) to an increasing number of individuals in the state and along the east coast in general. Most of the nuisance mosquitoes in Maine are part of the Aedes genus and breed either in woodland or salt marsh pools. The mosquitoes responsible for transmitting encephalitis actually feed mostly on birds, which is where they pick up the diseases, and only feed on humans occasionally, to whom they transmit the virus they picked up from the birds they feed on. One of these species is the Culiseta melanura, which breeds primarily in bogs and swamps, only venturing into areas where humans live occasionally. It is really the northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens) and the species C. restuans that you need to watch out for, as they are the two disease-spreading species that pose the greatest health threat to humans. These mosquitoes live in more urban environments and can breed in any item containing water, including, wading pools, bird baths, tires, tin cans, septic tanks, and pretty much anything else capable of holding a small amount of stagnant water you can think of.

The best way to protect yourself from these disease-spreading mosquitoes is by preventing them from breeding near your home in the first place. April is when you want to start finding any possible source of stagnant water that they can use as a breeding site such as flower pots, kids swimming pools, unused pools, and any other discarded containers with water in them. Drain them of water and make sure they stay empty throughout the spring and summer. You should also make sure to wear bug spray containing DEET whenever outside and even inside if you’ve spotted mosquito pests in your home. Wearing clothing that shields your body such as long sleeve shirts and pants is also recommended. There are also clothes treated with permethrin that protect you from mosquitoes. Make sure you have tight-fitting window and door screens installed to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

How do you usually protect yourself from the threat of disease-spreading mosquitoes?