Take measures against marauding mozzies

COMPLAINTS about mosquitos to the Gippsland Times Facebook page really got the comments buzzing.

The exchange of comments by close to 100 people reached nearly 10,000 readers.

A number of the respondents called on the Wellington Shire Council to spray poisons to eradicate the insects, while others suggested more environmentally responsible measures such as using repellent.

"Next thing it will be up to the council to solve global warming! Really? I don't think it's up to the council to control the mosquitos," Melissa Wilson commented.

Catherine Webb commented, " mosquitoes play an important role in our ecosystems, both locally and as a whole. They're irritating but they are necessary for a whole host of birds, frogs, and fish. Without them we'd see some devastating effects both to individual species and to the food chain as a whole."

In response to the increased mosquito numbers Wellington Shire Council has urged residents to take precautions.

Mayor Carolyn Crossley said recent flooding and the warmer weather had greatly increased the potential for the mosquito population to increase.

"Increased mosquito activity means that there may be more chances of being bitten. While a mosquito bite is annoying, it's also wise to remember that there's a risk of blood borne disease such as Barmah Forest Virus and Ross River Fever.

"These virus infections can cause major illness with symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever and sore and swollen joints.

"There is no specific treatment for these viruses so prevention depends on avoiding mosquito bites in the first place.

"Wellington Shire is monitoring mosquito numbers, with spraying activities set to start again around some coastal towns after the region's next heavy rains. However council's activities can only have limited impact on overall mosquito numbers so we urge residents to take action to help prevent mosquitoes from breeding on their properties.

"Residents can undertake their own property assessments to ensure that there are no areas holding water which may provide ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes. It's important to screen water tanks."

Sensible precautions may include:

Apply mosquito repellent regularly (every four hours). Repellents containing DEET or Picaridin are recommended, and are most effective and long lasting in a lotion form.

Use an insecticide in sleeping areas, according to instructions.

Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothes with long sleeves and long trousers. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark coloured clothes and can bite through tight clothes.

Ensure flyscreens on houses, caravans and annexes are in good condition with no gaps.

Clean out roof gutters of debris to ensure water does not pool.

Ensure open containers of water are removed from around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.

Check your water tanks are screened with wire gauze which is no coarser than 1mm mesh to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the tank.

When camping, take precautions such as using flyscreens on caravans and tents, and by sleeping under mosquito nets.

Make sure your dinghy or boat is stored overturned with the bung removed.

Take particular care while fishing, ensuring that you follow personal precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Control mosquitoes that enter your house with a 'knock-down' insecticide aerosol spray.

For more information visit the Wellington Shire Council website or phone council's environmental health office on 1300 366 244.

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