HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - This week, state officials are encouraging residents to “fight the bite” ahead of peak mosquito season. 

“The best parts of summer aren’t itchy bites and being sick, so we want people to protect themselves from mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses,” said Ramez Ziadeh, the Acting DEP Secretary. “It doesn’t take much to Fight the Bite and protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes. Common sense and insect repellent can go a long way towards a safe and happy summer,” Ziadeh added.

DEP's West Nile Virus program traps mosquitoes around the state using special equipment and is able to test for the virus. So far, it’s been detected in over 20 counties. At this point, there are only a handful of probable-human cases. 

Officials are sharing tips and other preventative measures on how to prevent the pesty insect from ruining your summer nights.  

“Mosquitoes really like shade. If you have overgrown vegetation in your yard, it's really important to trim that back,” said Jennifer Stough, a Water Program Specialist for DEP’s Vector Management Program. “Believe it or not, a simple box fan blowing at your feet when you're having an outdoor event works much better than a bug zapper or a mosquito misting system. Mosquitoes are actually very weak fliers,” Stough added. 

According to DEP, other useful tips include: 

  • Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires or any object that could collect standing water. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.  
  • Have roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.  
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.  
  • Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths.  
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.  
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and remove standing water from pool covers.  
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.  
  • Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with Bti products which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants. 

“Being outside recreating in Pennsylvania's great outdoors is good for you. It's good for Pennsylvania. Do not let mosquitoes stop you. There are things that you can do to manage the hazards,” said Nathan Reigner, the Director of Outdoor Recreation for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

For a fact sheet on West Nile Virus, including symptoms, see the Department of Health’s West Nile Virus Fact Sheet here.