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Catch 'em before they bite: 6 steps for fewer mosquitoes

(BPT) - Mosquitoes cause more human harm than any other living organism, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. Not only do these buzzing insects induce itchy red bites, but some species are also responsible for the spread of the Zika virus, which has caused concern in South America, the Caribbean and now throughout the United States. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 4 million people worldwide could be infected before the end of 2016.

"For people concerned about mosquitoes-regardless of the health risk-there are several steps you should take to keep these pests out of your yard and away from your family," says Dr. Stanton E. Cope, director of entomology and regulatory services for Terminix.

Cope offers his expert strategies on eliminating mosquitoes both in and outside your home:

Remove sources of standing water
Mosquitoes only lay their eggs in standing water, so be mindful of any place where water could pool near your home. Children's toys, buckets, shovels, plastic covers and old containers can contain standing water and are some of mosquitoes' favorite places. Other likely spots include water caught in garbage cans, near gutter downspouts and other poorly drained areas. Preventing mosquitoes starts with habitat reduction.

Change water sources weekly
If you have outdoor pet bowls, fountains, birdbaths, rain barrels or flower pots, be sure to empty or replace the water in them at least once per week to break the mosquito breeding cycle. Keeping these water sources clean will prevent any mosquito larvae from having time to develop.

Protect yourself
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible. When outside use EPA-approved mosquito repellants that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus. If you are traveling outside the U.S. it is especially important to wear effective insect repellants and protective clothing. Mosquito-borne diseases that may be rare in the U.S. are common in many foreign countries.

Properly maintain your pool
Mosquitoes will use any source of water to lay their eggs, even an inground swimming pool if it's not properly cared for. This offers a large area of water to fill with eggs. Keep up with your pool's water treatment plan, filters and water circulation to keep the mosquitoes away. Additionally, plastic kiddie pools also need to be checked for signs of insect activity.

Check screens and entry points
At about one-quarter to one-half of an inch in their adult stage, mosquitoes are small enough to fit through almost any entrance of your home. This means they can sneak in unannounced through the tiniest cracks in your home or garage. Check the seals on your doors, windows and porches, and make sure everything is properly screened off for a mosquito-free environment.

Call for backup
If the mosquito population in your yard is beyond your control, don't be afraid to call for help. Pest management professionals, such as Terminix, are trained to know exactly where mosquitoes are hiding and the best methods to control their population. They'll target areas around your home to attack these pests at the source.

Don't let pesky mosquitoes keep you from enjoying the summer months. Follow these steps to decrease mosquitoes and increase your peace of mind.

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