Letting bugs breed can cause you legal troubles

LAWRENCEVILLE - While having a lot of mosquitoes around one's yard might put families at risk of contracting West Nile Virus, it could also put homeowners in trouble with the law.

Gwinnett County has had a Vector Control Ordinance since 1998 that prohibits "conditions conducive to the breeding of mosquitoes."

Violation of this ordinance can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 60 days in prison, but there must be evidence of mosquito larvae for legal action to take place.

There are several effective ways to prevent mosquito populations on private property, however.

The first thing homeowners should try to do, according to the Center for Disease Control Web site, is remove standing water from outdoor areas around their home where it is possible.

Mosquitoes need water to breed and lay their eggs, so emptying water once or twice a week from pet dishes, flower pots and anything else outside that could collect water can help to prevent large populations of mosquitoes.

For places where it may be difficult to empty standing water, such as birdbaths, Vernon Goins, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Health Department, recommends mosquito dunks as a safe and effective way to kill mosquito larvae.

Mosquito dunks are all-natural biological insect controls shaped like doughnuts that are fairly inexpensive (only about $9 for six rings) and last for up to 30 days.

According to Goins, another effective way to attack mosquito larvae is with mosquito fish.

"Mosquito fish are a great source of larval reduction," Goins said. "They go crazy for larvae and are great for water gardens and other similar areas of standing water."

Goins said that two types of mosquito fish are native to Georgia and they can be found in fish supply stores.

When it comes to reducing the amount of adult mosquitoes, a fogger is one tool people can use on private residences.

Foggers spray insecticide and kill whatever adult mosquitoes they come in contact with.

Goins said that it is important for people to read the directions before using foggers and to make sure they are used during the morning and evening so that they are effective and don't kill "innocent" insects.

Goins said that the insecticide used with these foggers is fairly safe because of how diluted they are, but that the directions should be read so that the user understands whatever dangers there may be.

Steve Pettis, a Gwinnett County Extension Agent, said that outdoor foggers only last for 1 to 3 hours at the most and that they are best used for outdoor events like weddings and are not great long term solutions for reducing mosquitoes.

Adulticide - killing adult mosquitoes - is the most expensive method of mosquito reduction according to Goins, with the foggers costing around $60.