Winnebago Health Department wants volunteers to plant mosquito traps

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is telling residents to prevent mosquitoes hatching before they become a serious health issue this summer.

“The polar vortex that we had over the winter did not kill the mosquitoes,” said Elyce Schlichting, part owner of Mosquito Joe, a professional pest extermination outfit.

Schlichting says not even last weekend’s snow will slow the pests down.

“If you figure they can survive that, they can definitely survive a little — what did we get? Four to six inches of snow over the weekend?” she said.

The IDPH wants everyone to remember the “three R’s” this summer: reduce, repel, and report.

They advise residents reduce the amount of mosquitoes by removing any standing water in yards, and reporting any abandoned properties which could house standing water.

“A mosquito only needs a capful of water to lay 300 eggs, so we have to be very acutely aware of our surroundings here,” Schlicting said.

Ryan Kerch, the Environmental Health Supervisor for the Winnebago County Health Department says it only takes five days for mosquitoes to go from larva to airborne adults.

“Now is the time to start looking for those areas of standing water, especially befor the mosquitoes start breeding, by tipping over things that could store water, tires especially, wheel barrows, things in the backyard that can do that,” he said.

Kerch says it’s also a good idea to check house gutters.

“Clogged gutters are one that’s often there, with all the spring cleaning. Anything that came through this winter, gutters can clog and create standing water there,” he said.

Taking those simple steps could save residents from getting West Nile Virus, a potentially serious disease carried by mosquitoes.

“There was at least one known human case [in Winnebago County last year] and we found multiple birds in virtually every municipality [that] had a positive mosquito pool,” he said.

The Winnebago County Health Department is looking for volunteers to help place mosquito traps in homeowners’ back yards. Residents who would like to be a Mosquito Captain can contact them at 815-720-4100 for more information.

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