According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 75 percent of the West Nile cases reported this year have come from five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Almost half of the cases have been reported in Texas. While there are many do-it-yourself steps consumers can take to protect themselves, there is also the option to hire a professional pest control service.
The main method of transmission for the West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. But there are many things consumers can do protect themselves. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following:
• Remove any standing water, including water that may be left over in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays.
• Replace outdoor lights with yellow ‘bug’ lights which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights. The yellow lights are NOT repellents, however.
• Make sure window and door screens are ‘bug tight.’
• Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary.
•Stay inside during the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
Consumers may also hire a pest control service to help reduce the number of mosquitoes on their property. Pest control services can provide different methods of elimination, such as misting systems or pesticide sprays.
If you’re considering hiring a pest control service, Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggests the following:
• Research the company and compare prices. Check any pest control company’s BBB Business Review before signing a contract. Look at the company’s rating, how it has responded to past customer complaints and any advertising issues it may have had. Solicit bids from at least three different pest control companies before making a decision.
• Ask for an inspection. According to many experts in the industry, the first step in reducing mosquitoes is to find the source. A pest control company cannot put together an appropriate plan of action without identifying the source of the problem.
• Ask about the warranty. Some companies will provide re-treatment warranty, meaning if the mosquitoes come back and the problem worsens, they will come back out and re-spray at no additional cost. Make sure you get any warranty in writing.
• Be cautious of guarantees. While pest control companies can help minimize the number of mosquitoes, completely eliminating the pests may not possible. Be cautious of any company that makes guarantees claiming it can eliminate 100 percent of mosquitoes. This is a red flag.
• Ask about safety and risks. Because pesticides and pest control strategies could be dangerous to touch or directly inhale, be sure to ask the company about the safety of the chemicals it uses. Let the company know if you have pets, children or sensitive plants as that may impact the products it selects for your home.
• Read the fine print. Carefully review any contract before you sign. If you’ve decided on a monthly treatment plan, make sure that schedule is included in your contract. Pay close attention to termination policies and fees should you decide to stop treatment.
For more consumer tips, or to check out a business, find BBB Accredited Businesses, or file a customer complaint, start at www.bbb.org. On your mobile device, see http://m.bbb.org. Get the free BBB iPhone app at www.bbb.org/iphone.
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