(ARA) - While warmer weather brings many opportunities to enjoy outdoor living spaces, it also ushers in unwanted pests like ticks and mosquitos.
A mild winter often triggers an early emergence and larger populations of these insects. Frequent accounts of tick sightings and bites have been documented in many states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a steady increase in the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever each year.
About 75 percent of all reported Lyme disease cases are acquired from ticks picked up during activities in backyards and around the home, according to the CDC website.
The site also notes that homeowners can reduce the population of ticks that can cause Lyme disease and the like by 68 to 100 percent with as little as one application of an appropriate outdoor insecticide spray.
Another pest-spread illness, West Nile virus, is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitos. West Nile poses health risks to humans and pets alike during the warm summer months.
While incidents of West Nile virus have declined over the past 10 years, the CDC reports it to be an established seasonal epidemic that can cause severe illness and result in permanent neurological damage.
The best way to prevent an outbreak of the disease, according to the CDC, is through the use of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to control both adult mosquitos and their larvae before they can hatch and mature.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes IPM on its website, www.epa.gov, as "an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices."
The EPA points out that the IPM approach, which takes insects' life cycles into consideration as well as currently available pest control methods, is a good way to manage pests economically and with the least health and environmental hazards.
In addition to the efforts and community education by organizations like the EPA, there are many simple, preventative steps that individuals can take to ensure their own lawns, gardens and patios are a safe environment for summer fun.
"Keeping grass cut short and eliminating standing water in and around the home are two easy, effective ways to reduce the prevalence of menaces like ticks and mosquitos, " says Aaron Hobbs, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) - a national organization representing the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticide and fertilizer products. "The applications of insect repellents and thorough skin checks after spending time outdoors also serve as important safeguards for adults, children and pets.
"Pesticide and repellent products can provide significant protection, and it is important to note that these products are rigorously tested and approved by EPA and your state to ensure they will protect you and your pets from harmful pests," Hobbs continues.
Reading pesticide and repellent labels and following directions for proper application and storage are ways to ensure that your outdoor living spaces remain a healthy, pest-free summer haven.
To learn more on how to protect your family, friends and pets from insects, rodents and weeds, visit www.DebugTheMyths.com.