News Article

Penn State Extension Service Newsletter for 06.19.17

Gass Garden Seminar Tuesday, June 20 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Ag Heritage Building & Penn State Extension Grounds, 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Join us in the Ag Heritage Building for a presentation featuring Patrick Gass. Then proceed to tour the historical site which includes Gass’s 1771 birthplace and a garden of plants from both the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the historical period of the 1760’s farmhouse. Fee: $10 per person. To register, please call Penn State Extension Franklin County at 717-263-9226.

Monarch Mania Class Wednesday, June 28 – 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. – Ag Heritage Building, 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Come learn about these magnificent butterflies and why they need your help. They have started arriving so there’s no time to waste. Call 717-263-9226 to reserve your spot. Classes are free and open to the public.

Extending the Harvest Wednesday, July 12 – 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Ag Heritage Building, 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Information will be given about enhancing home gardening skills, lowering your gardening costs and improving gardening yields. Registration fee: $10 per person. To register, please call Penn State Extension Franklin County at 717-263-9226.

Mosquitoes Carry Diseases

Submitted by Marcus Snyder, Mosquito Borne Disease Technician

The World Health Organization reports that the mosquito is the deadliest animal in the world, responsible for approximately 725,000 human deaths per year worldwide. There are 3,520 species of mosquitos worldwide, 182 species in North America, 62 species in Pennsylvania, and 29 species in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Not all mosquitos bite humans; many feed on other amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The female mosquitos feed on blood and nectar and live only two to three weeks. Blood is necessary to produce eggs. The males only feed on nectar and die shortly after mating. Mosquitos complete their lifecycle in almost any aquatic environment, such as ponds, woodland pools, ditches, artificial containers, old tires, or anything that will hold water for four days. The larvae of mosquitos live in stagnant water and feed on organic debris. Many mosquitos are not strong flyers and stay within a few hundred yards of their breeding container. To prevent the possibility of being bitten, you must eliminate the habitats that attract mosquitos.

Do not invite mosquitos to your backyard; remove standing water from your property. Tip out water from buckets, flower pots, kiddie pools, old tires, tarps, recycling containers, planters, trash cans, and other containers. Clean gutters, storm drains and window wells. Dump birdbaths daily. Even one cup of water in one of these containers can breed thousands of mosquitos. Be sure to store things like wheelbarrows, toys, or trailers under cover. Ornamental ponds, rain barrels, ditches and areas where standing water can’t be removed can be treated with Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium that kills the mosquito larvae. The State DEP and Franklin County Penn State Extension’s Mosquito Borne Disease Programs use Bti products to control mosquito larvae. Homeowners can purchase products containing Bti- Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis in many lawn and garden stores, outdoor supply companies, and home improvement stores. It is sold in a small, donut shaped form, often called “mosquito dunks.” A granular form of Bti is also sold to cover larger areas of standing water called “mosquito bites.” Be sure to follow all label instructions if you use a Bti product at home.

Do not invite mosquitos into your house. Make sure that all door and window screens are in good repair. Mosquitos also need an area to rest and will congregate in overgrown vegetation. Many homeowners use corrugated drain pipe attached to downspouts to move storm water from their homes. The corrugations hold water and are a breeding spot for mosquitos. To avoid this problem, use smooth drain pipe or cover the ends of the corrugated pipe with a fine mesh material. This will keep female mosquitos from entry.

Protect yourself when outdoors by using insect repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests insect repellants for safety and effectiveness. Look for registered EPA insect repellants with one of these active ingredients: DEET, Picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that insect repellents containing a 10 percent concentration of DEET are safe to use on children two years of age and older.

Clothing and gear can also be treated with Permethrin. The treatment is only applied to the gear and never to skin. Follow the package directions and the protection should last through multiple washings. This spray can be found in the outdoor, camping, or hunting department of many stores. One bottle will treat many items of gear. This product is also effective in repelling ticks.

Social media promotes alternative ways to prevent mosquito bites. Two popular items to repel mosquitos are dryer sheets placed in clothing and herbs planted in your garden or containers. According to the journal HortScience, citronella oil, an ingredient of dryer sheets, does kill insects that ingest the citronella oil. Therefore, dryer sheets would have to be eaten by the mosquito to serve as an effective repellent. This is not very likely and is not a recommended way to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Essential oils can repel insects and some are used in commercial insect repellents. This leads people to believe that a plant that produces these essential oils can repel mosquitos. The flaw in this logic is that the essential oils need to be distilled from the plant and are not naturally released from plants growing in our landscapes.

Mosquito-borne illness should be taken seriously and information should be gathered from reputable education or government sites. Several species of mosquitos found in Franklin County are capable of transmitting the West Nile and Zika Viruses. The Franklin County Penn State Extension Mosquito-Borne Disease Program actively surveys sites around the county from April through October. This program works under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to identify areas where mosquitos capable of transmitting the West Nile and Zika Viruses live and breed in Franklin County.

Throughout the season, traps are set at predetermined sites across the county and the specimens collected are sent to the DEP lab for testing. The program uses three types of traps to collect adult mosquitos. Two attract mosquitos looking for a meal. They use dry ice to lure mosquitos into the traps. The other trap uses nutrient rich, smelly water to lure females looking to lay eggs. The team also collects larvae by dipping in standing water sources. The team has an aggressive larval treatment plan. When larvae are found, treatment is applied, usually a Bti product.

The Mosquito-Borne Disease Program also provides educational talks to community groups throughout the year and will send information to interested homeowners about mosquitos. The program does not have any regulatory authority and cannot demand that a homeowner or a business clean up an area that produces mosquitos. The local code enforcement officers and the Department of Environmental Protection have that authority.

As the summer progresses, adult mosquitos will be collected that are infected with the West Nile virus. Depending on the concentration of the virus, treatment may need to be applied. The program uses a Permethrin product that is applied at night with a truck mounted sprayer. The active ingredient is the same as the flea dip treatments for pets and lice shampoo for children. The rate of application is .75 ounces of product per acre. This has a quick effect on the adult mosquito population. Any residual spray from a night time spray is broken down by sun light. Spraying is the last line of defense against mosquitos. The public can help the program by reducing any mosquito habitat on their property. More information regarding the DEP WNV program can be found on the website:

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