West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitos. Humans (and horses) are end host for this virus which begins its journey when mosquitos feed on birds which can be host to the West Nile Virus. There are several mosquitos to be aware of.
The genus Culex or “house mosquito” is the primary vector of West Nile Virus. The Culex mosquito usually comes out to feed at dawn and after dusk. The adults rest during the day and night around structures and in vegetation. Culex mosquitos can overwinter in protected spaces such as sewers, crawl spaces, basements and cellars. The Culex mosquito is not a strong flyer and usually does not live its life more than a few hundred yards from point of origin.
There is also the Aedes or tiger mosquito. They are have black and white stripe legs with a small black and white stripe body. The Aedes mosquito can easily be confused with the Culista mosquito, which looks very simular.
What about control ? Well as we have stated in previous blogs, control begins with eliminating breeding areas which are usually no more than a couple of hundred yards away. Start by looking closer such as flower pots, outdoor flower vases, knotholes in trees, or other areas close by where water can collect and stagenate. The mosquito will not develope in running water.
The small collection areas such as flower pots or etc. can be filled with coarse sand or small gravel to help eleminate the standing water. There are also “doughnuts” available at your local garden or pool store that use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or Bti for control of the larve.
The various Encephalitis diseases start in birds and are vectored to humans and our horse buddies. While it is impossible to eliminate all risk you can talk with a veteranarian about innoculations for your horse and use common sense for you and your family. Be mindful of what time of day the various mosquitos are on the prowl, wear long pants and long sleaved shirts and utilize a good mosquito repelent when out doors.