Plant your defenses

Features - Pest Control

Prevent Zika virus during the peak mosquito season.

August 3, 2016

Greenhouse humidity, standing water in plant containers, rising summer temperatures — these nursery conditions are ideal for disease-carrying mosquitoes during their peak season. Whether working in an outdoor nursery or a greenhouse, make sure you’re prepared to prevent mosquito bites.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are one of two types of mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus and carry other diseases, such as West Nile virus and chikungunya that pose a threat to you and your employees. Aedes are not your typical mosquito. While we often think of mosquitoes biting at dawn and dusk, Aedes bite all day, meaning they have the potential to bite during daytime working hours. While you’re hard at work, be sure to take time to eliminate standing water that provides an ideal breeding ground for Aedes.

Graphic courtesy of RISE

With the first potential case of Zika virus from a mosquito bite in the United States reported in July and the number of traveler cases, it is important to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. Zika virus has the potential to spread anywhere Aedes is present, mainly in the southern portion of the United States, and as far reaching as California to the West and New Hampshire to the East. An easy first step toward preventing mosquito bites is applying an EPA-approved insect repellent during these summer months, along with a separate application of sunscreen.

Prevention tips

  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin according to label directions, and reapply as needed. Most CDC-recommended insect repellents should be reapplied every four hours to properly repel mosquitoes. Using EPA-approved repellents on the right application schedule is especially important for pregnant women due to the Zika virus’ connection to birth defects.
  • Aedes mosquitoes bite all day, so wear light-colored long sleeves and pants.
  • Use sunscreen and repellent separately. The CDC recommends applying sunscreen first, and then EPA-approved insect repellent according to label directions, since DEET-containing repellents can decrease the SPF in sunscreen when the products are used together.
  • Aedes can breed in water trapped in containers as small as a bottle cap. Remove any standing water such as rainwater or spillover that can collect in buckets or plant pots.

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Source: RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)