Watch out and shield your self from these invasive bugs | Life

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With all the rain we’ve had, it’s no surprise that mosquitoes are experiencing a population boom. The mosquito that carries the West Nile virus can multiply in just teaspoons of stagnant water. Teaspoon?! My clay floor has several teaspoon-sized pools when it rains, but we don’t have to worry unless it doesn’t drain within 7-10 days.

When we’re super soaked, it’s really important to wear insect repellent at all times when you are outside. Different mosquitoes come out at different times of the day, so it is recommended that you always wear a repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellants that contain at least one of these active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, or IR3535. If you want an organic repellent, try lemon eucalyptus oil. Research shows (and the CDC recommends) this as an effective repellent, but it does need to be reapplied more frequently than the other types. You’ll also have the bonus of smelling like a piece of furniture freshly dusted with lemon deposit.

To prevent or limit the multiplication of mosquitoes, empty the standing water. Areas like gutters that contain organic matter like soil and leaves are great breeding grounds for mosquitoes. You may not even realize that there is water there. Check tarpaulins, flower pots, buckets, outdoor toys, or even low spots in lawns.

If you have a well or other water holding vessel that won’t empty, use a larvicide based on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This bacterium feeds on fly larvae, has very little environmental impact, and is safe for non-target insects and mammals. In addition, treating the larvae is much more effective and has a lower environmental impact than treating adult mosquitoes. Make sure to look at the label on these products and note that they are only effective for about 30 days. You can find more information about mosquitoes at https://www.dentoncounty.gov/790/West-Nile-Virus.

Another insect of concern

And now for something completely different … we need to be aware of a new invasive creature. It made headlines, maybe you already know it. It’s the hammerhead flatworm and personally I find it utterly unsettling in appearance. To make matters worse, this shovel-headed monster eats earthworms. Worms!? It’s like picking on puppies, it’s just plain mean.

What you should know about this worm is that if they eat it or cause skin irritation in humans, it can be toxic to pets. Plus, cutting up the worm will only make more worms, so don’t do that. This is the stuff of nightmares. The worms can be killed with citrus oil and salt. Or by spraying it with vinegar. It is recommended to put the worm in a ziploc bag with salt or vinegar so it doesn’t run away during treatment. If you come across any of these little monsters please take a photo along with the coordinates of the location and email Ashley Morgan-Olvera at invasives@shsu.edu. More information is available at http://www.tsusinvasives.org/home/database/bipalium-kewense

JANET LAMINACK is the Horticultural County Extension Agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or by email at jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu.