In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Berks County Conservation District has kicked off the 2023 tick and mosquito surveillance season.
While most insects provide beneficial effects, such as being part of the food web or acting as pollinators for plants, ticks and mosquitoes can become a biting nuisance or more importantly transmit diseases that can make you sick.
Each week, BCCD collects environmental samples of tick and mosquito populations from our communities to assess disease transmission potential. Communities with mosquito and tick populations showing elevated disease risks are proactively targeted with control measures and personal protection education.
Additionally, The PA Department of Environmental Protection uses the data collected to publish seasonal risk values throughout Commonwealth.
Funding for the collection, testing and control of tick and mosquito populations is supported through a grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
If you see BCCD biologists collecting insects this season by dragging a white cloth along the edge of local parks or setting mosquito traps, this is being done to measure the risk of tick and mosquito populations transmitting diseases in Berks County.
While the agency actively monitors tick and mosquito populations, all residents in the community have a shared responsibility to reduce habitat for these insects. This includes the reduction of standing water and the creation of a tick-safe zone around your property.
As you spend more time outdoors, the CDC and BCCD recommends the following steps to prevent bites from mosquitoes and ticks:
Insect repellent, when used properly, can keep mosquitoes and ticks off your skin. Now we recommend using repellents that are EPA approved that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and adults should help apply repellents to children under 12.
Wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks to keep bugs off your skin.
Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Inspect all parts of your body carefully, including your armpits, scalp, and groin. Remove ticks immediately using fine-tipped tweezers.
Early morning, late afternoon, and early evening are peak biting times for mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus. It’s especially important to use repellent if you’re outdoors at these times.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, even in small containers. Walk around the outside of your home at least once a week and empty any water that’s collected in toys, pet food and water bowls, birdbaths, buckets, and other objects. Check under bushes and other hard-to-see places. Get rid of old tires and other objects that can collect water.
Create a tick-safe zone around your home. For example: remove leaf litter and clear grasses and brush around your home and the edge of the lawn, and place mulch between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks off the places you work and play the most.
Check for and repair holes in window and door screens.
Avoiding mosquitoes and ticks doesn’t mean that you have to stay inside, in front of the TV. Work and play outside, but remember to apply an effective repellent to exposed skin and clothing.