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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Mosquitoes Are Biting

Itching is the least of their nasty woes

Downed trees, dented houses and absent power are the larger consequence of Irene, Lee and their ilk. But the smaller consequences can also get under your skin. And keep you itching.
    Mosquitoes are biting. Many kinds of mosquitoes.
    The extraordinary amount of rain from the two storms is just what the eggs of opportunistic female fresh-floodwater mosquitoes have been waiting for to hatch.
    Other kinds of mosquitoes are always with us. Salt-marsh mosquitoes  favor the lower shore. Culex mosquitoes are most everywhere water is constant, which is where they lay their eggs.
    The sucking pests can cause more than a lingering itch. They also spread disease, including the West Nile virus, which is in season now through October. Four human cases have been identified in Maryland so far this year, with one of those in Pasadena.
    The virus is carried in birds, from whom mosquitoes, often culex, pick it up and are able to pass it along to a mammalian host, human or equine.
    The human infection can vary from undetected to flu-like to a far more serious encephalitis-like disease.
    To kill those mosquitoes, the Department of Agriculture — which fights mosquitoes in 2,100 communities in 22 counties and Baltimore City — is increasing both surveillance and spraying in a small section near where West Nile appeared, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Control Section’s Michael Cantwell
    The spray block begins at the Mountain Road and Waterford Road intersection, extending west to Sun Valley, east to Green Haven, north to Willow Run and south to Farmington Village at Schramms Crossing. Spray dates are September 7 and 14, with spray trucks moving through in the dark hours when culex are most active, from 8pm to 2am.
    For hurricane side-effect mosquitoes, the best defense is to batten your hatches — make sure windows and doors have proper screening — and empty standing water. Any area or container that holds water for a week or more has the potential to produce thousands of mosquitoes, according to Calvert County Mosquito Control.
    Here’s the protocol:
• Drain or dump tarps, buckets and flowerpots
• Keep roof gutters free of leaves and other debris
• Fill in tree stump holes from blown-over trees ASAP
• Dispose of cans, plastic containers and anything else that can hold water
• Cover or drill holes in recycling containers or outside trashcans
• Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, children’s toys and other such items
• Store boats covered or upside down
• Clean water in birdbaths or wading pools regularly.
    Finally, buy a good itch cream,  like Gold Bond.