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Recent rains mean good things for crops, but mean more mosquitoes

By ALLISON MILES
April 17, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 16, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.

Sunday night's storm brought much-needed rain to the Crossroads, but also means a probable mosquito increase throughout the coming days. The insects are more than an annoyance to humans, and can spread heartworms throughout the animal world.

HOW TO AVOID MOSQUITO BITES

Recent rains mean a likely increase in mosquitoes throughout the Crossroads. Here are a few tips to avoid the bites:

Use mosquito spray on exposed skin when venturing outdoors.Wear light-colored shirts with long sleeves.Avoid the outdoors from dusk to dawn, when mosquito bites are most common.Drain standing water to rid mosquitos of breeding grounds.If you must open the windows, make sure to use a screen.Sources: Stephen Biles, Texas AgriLife Extension agent for integrated pest management and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

The Sunday night downpour that doused the Crossroads and, in some areas, dropped hail, brought a mixed bag to the region.

While the moisture was a bonus, experts said the incoming mosquitoes might leave something to be desired.

The rains were a welcome sight to thirsty crops, which suffered from dry conditions the past 12 to 15 months, said Stephen Biles, Texas AgriLife Extension agent for integrated pest management.

While the past 60 days brought some rain, he said the area needs more to get through the growing season. Crops such as cotton, grain sorghum and corn require 18 to 20 inches of water, he said.

"These rains we get are ideal for crop season," he said. "They really help."

Although helpful, the precipitation also brings a likely increase in insects, Biles said. Many insects feed on, plants so, when the plants fare better, the bugs do, too.

The insect most people relate to rainfall is the mosquito, which hatches its eggs in pools of water, he said.

He recommended people use a mosquito repellant when venturing outside, and to wear light-colored shirts with long sleeves.

"That will reduce contact with mosquitoes and keep them from being able to get to your skin," he explained.

It isn't just humans that have to worry about the buzzing, biting bugs, however. The family pet might also feel the effects.

Mosquitoes and heartworms go together, said Dr. Tom Moscatelli, who owns Moscatelli Veterinary Clinic.

A mosquito that feeds on a dog with heartworms sucks up the microscopic worm, he explained. It develops inside the mosquito and, when that bug bites another dog, it can transport the worm into the capillaries.

"Six months later, you can have an 8 to 12-inch adult worm in the (heart's) right ventricle," he said.

Moscatelli urged pet owners to get their dogs on monthly heartworm prevention if they don't have it already, but said to get pets tested first. Dogs can suffer anaphylactic shock if they're already infected when given the medicine.

Outdoor cats, too, can benefit from heartworm prevention.

"You want to protect them," he said of family pets. "You want to keep them safe."

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