Residents should take anti-mosquito precautions during warm winter days, according to a press release from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“If you find yourself doing a little more scratching this time of year, it could be that those pesky biting insects associated with warmer days are already sinking their proboscises into you,” a spokesman said.
According to the National Weather Service at Little Rock, Arkansas saw record temperatures in January and February. Seventeen record highs were broken or tied on Jan. 10-12 or Jan. 31. Average temperatures for early February were running about 8 degrees above normal. From Feb. 1-11, Fort Smith saw the highest departure, coming in at 9.9 degrees above average. Feb. 11 saw record highs of 85 degrees at Fort Smith and 84 degrees at Harrison.
“Our current mild winter and recent unseasonably warm temperatures are beginning to make overwintering mosquitoes restless,” said John Hopkins, extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “The probability of an early awakening will give the mosquito population a head-start toward building higher population levels later in the season.”
To help minimize the aggravation and potential disease threat from these biting insects, Hopkins advised taking actions that most people would normally do during the rainy spring:
• Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants.
• When it comes to protecting yourself outside, use a repellent – being sure to read the active ingredient list and closely follow label directions.
“When mosquitoes are present, wear long-sleeved clothing and protect yourself with an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol,” he said.
• Make sure door, porch and window screens are in good condition to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home, Hopkins said.
Details: www.uaex.edu or a county Extension office.