While Rhode Islanders have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures this year, unfortunately, the weather also makes for ideal breeding conditions for ticks and mosquitoes.
According to Deron Ellis, owner of Mosquito Squad of Rhode Island, a pesticide application company located at 237 Castle Rocks Road, tick populations surface when temperatures reach 55 degrees, while mosquitoes breed when the temperature is sustained at 55 degrees or higher and paired with precipitation.
“Based on the kind of winter and spring we’ve had, we know that mosquitoes are going to be outrageous this year, but the real concern is the tick population,” said Ellis. “It’s going to explode this year.”
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that both bugs can carry life-altering diseases. Lyme disease is one of the deadliest and Ellis said they anticipate there will be a surge of cases this season.
“Everyone I talk to either has Lyme disease or knows someone who has it,” he said. “We hope to solve that issue for people.”
In fact, more than 30,000 Americans are annually diagnosed with Lyme disease, which results from an infected deer tick bite. Dogs are also vulnerable to the disease and roughly have the same occurrence rate as humans.
Further, 150 to 3,000 cases of Arboviral Encephalitis are reported annually. The disease results from bites by infected mosquitoes and causes those contaminated to suffer from inflammation of the brain.
Also, 690 cases of West Nile Virus were reported in 2011, including 43 deaths. The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes and has three outcomes for humans; mild, moderate and severe. The harshest cases result in death.
But, there is hope, as the Mosquito Squad advised people to follow the “Five ‘T’s’” to combat mosquitoes, such as “tip,” “toss,” “turn,” “tarp” and “treat.”
Ellis said the idea is to comprehensively think about mosquito abatement and that is to get rid of their breeding grounds by tipping and turning over, even tossing out, any objects in yards that collect water.
“Get rid of containers in your yard like a bucket that’s sitting outside, a flower pot that has water in it, a kids’ swimming pool or that blue tarp that people put over firewood to keep it dry,” he said. “Any place that you have pooling, stagnant water is a breeding ground.”
The Mosquito Squad also compiled a list of six steps to reduce tick populations. They call this the “Six ‘C’s.’”
The first step is to “clear” outdoor areas where lawn and tree debris gather, as ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas.
It is also best to locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic and separate them with wood chips or gravel. It’s key to resist the urge to position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.
Secondly, it’s best to “clean” leaf litter and brush around homes and lawn edges. They advise to mow tall grasses and keep lawns short.
The next step is to “choose” proper plants. When purchasing yard plants or shrubs, select ones that are not attractive to deer. Installing physical barriers will also help to keep deer off private property. Consult local nurseries to determine the best choices.
Another tip is “check” hiding places. Learn where ticks tend to accumulate and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular places for the pests to hide.
The fifth tip is “care” for family pets, as they can contract tick-borne disease and carry infected ticks into homes. Talk to a veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays.
Lastly, Ellis said to “call” professionals. Mosquito Squad of Rhode Island, which has started its fourth season, can be reached at 401-575-2316. For more information, visit mosquitosquad.com. As a whole, there are more than 100 Mosquito Squad locations throughout the United States. They have been in operation for more than eight years.