In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Lawrence County is kicking off its 2023 tick and mosquito surveillance season.

While most insects provide beneficial effects such as being part of the food web or acting as plant pollinators, ticks and mosquitoes can become a biting nuisance and transmit diseases.

Each week Lawrence County’s West Nile technician will collect environmental samples of tick and mosquito populations from local communities to assess disease transmission potential. The ticks are sent to a DEP approved lab to be tested for West Nile Virus.

Communities with mosquito and tick populations showing elevated disease risks are proactively targeted with control measures and personal protection education. Additionally, the DEP uses the collected data to publish seasonal risk values throughout the commonwealth. Funding for the collection, testing and control of tick and mosquito populations is supported through a DEP grant.

The West Nile Technician will be collecting insects by dragging a white cloth along the edges of local parks, or will be setting mosquito traps, to measure the risks of tick and mosquito populations transmitting diseases locally.

While tick and mosquito populations are actively monitored, all residents in the community have a shared responsibility of reducing mosquito habitat or primarily getting rid of standing water.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Lawrence County Conservation District recommend the following steps to prevent bites from mosquitoes and ticks:

•Use insect repellent properly to keep mosquitoes and ticks off your skin. Repellents that are Environmental Protection Agency approved, which contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, are recommended. Adults should apply repellents to children under 12.

•Wear long-sleeved 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 is especially important to use repellent when outdoors during those these times.

•Mosquitoes lay eggs in water, even in small containers. Walk around the outside of your home at least once a week and empty any water that has 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 by removing leaf litter and clearing 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 does not mean you have to stay indoors. Work and play outside, but remember to apply an effective repellent to exposed skin and clothing.

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