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Residents can help eliminate breeding sites

Elizabeth – Add the Asian Tiger Mosquito to the list of flying, stinging pests to watch out for this summer. This non-native species has been moving northward since first identified in Texas in 1985. It has now found a home in at least half of New Jersey, including Union County.

“The Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control has identified the Asian Tiger Mosquito as a nuisance because of its sharp bite and its preference for urban areas,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “All County residents can help reduce its numbers, by regularly checking yards and neighborhoods for potential breeding spots.”

Unlike many mosquitoes, the Asian Tiger shuns green space. It prefers crowded urban habitats including patios and backyards.

It is called a “container mosquito” because it breeds easily in any small object that holds water, such as flower pots, yard toys, discarded tires, empty bottles, plastic bags, and even bottle caps.

The Asian Tiger also breeds in neglected pools and fountains, or clogged rain gutters.

“Get rid of the breeding sites, and you help get rid of the mosquito,” said Freeholder Estrada.

Removing litter and debris is a major first step toward eliminating breeding sites. Unused or neglected pools, fountains, and ornamental ponds should be drained and covered.

Residents should also check their outdoor equipment and garden ornaments, including grills, wheelbarrows, and tarpaulins, to ensure there is no place for water to collect, even in very small amounts.

Rain gutters should be cleaned regularly to ensure that water does not collect in blockages, and water in birdbaths should be changed at least once a week.

Ornaments and vases in cemeteries are another potential breeding site.

Union County residents can call the Union County Mosquito Hotline at 908-654-9834 to report mosquito infestations. County inspectors will examine the property and recommend ways to eliminate breeding sites. If needed, the inspectors will also survey the surrounding area.

Mosquitoes carry a range of diseases including malaria, West Nile Virus, and dengue fever.

To avoid bites, County residents are advised to wear long clothing when outdoors in the early morning and early evening.

DEET remains the single most effective mosquito repellent. County residents are advised to follow all instructions carefully when using products containing DEET, especially on children.

Because of its marshlands and network of waterways, Union County has a long history of organized mosquito control efforts. The County’s first Mosquito Control Commission was established 95 years ago. In addition to responding to residents’ requests for site inspections, the present-day Bureau of Mosquito Control regularly inspects and tests for mosquitoes throughout the county.