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Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water

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Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water

With spring weather and mosquito season coming soon in the United States, the Zika virus – and the mosquitoes that carry the virus – may be a major concern. Zika is currently affecting more than 30 countries and territories in the Americas and Pacific Islands. Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. People and communities can take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes in their homes and communities to protect themselves from Zika.

How Does Water Help Mosquitoes Breed?

Aedes aegypti is known as a “container-breeding mosquito” because it likes to lay eggs in and around standing water. Studies show that female mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in water that collects or is stored in manmade containers.

Water-filled bioassay trays were used to attract resident female mosquitos to deposit their eggs, where they hatched, and from which the larvae were collected.Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs on the walls of water-filled containers. Eggs stick to containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off. The eggs can survive when they dry out—up to 8 months. When it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week.

Reduce mosquitoes at home

Here are a couple of steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding around your home.

Remove standing water

Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Items in and around people’s homes can collect water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as

  • Vases
  • pet water bowls
  • flowerpot saucers
  • discarded tires
  • buckets
  • pool covers
  • birdbaths
  • trash cans, and
  • rain barrels.

These actions can help reduce the number of mosquitoes around areas where people live.

Follow safe water storage tips

If water must be stored, tightly cover storage containers to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside and laying eggs.

Reduce mosquitoes in the community

Communities also can take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes and the chances of spreading disease.

Build systems that distribute safe water

If people have access to clean and safe water in their communities, they will not need to store it in and around their homes. Research has shown that when community-wide distribution systems are built, the number of mosquitoes decreases, because water is not being stored near areas where people live.

Improve sanitation

When water is contaminated with organic matter (for example, human or animal waste, grasses, and leaves), the chances that mosquito larvae will survive may increase because contaminated matter provides food for larvae to eat. Sanitation departments and wastewater treatment plants remove organic wastes and treat water with chlorine or other disinfectants. These activities may decrease mosquito populations and, simultaneously, prevent diarrheal diseases.

*Basic sanitation includes access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste, and the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection, industrial/hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene* (WASH) are critical to keep people healthy and prevent the spread of many different disease, including Zika. World Water Day recognizes the importance of safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene in the health of our world’s population.

Learn more about World Water Day at www.unwater.org/worldwaterday and visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global for more information about CDC’s efforts to ensure global access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene.

For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

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15 comments on “Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This information should be broadcast in conjunction with network news about the Zika virus, and the networks should be concerned enough to contribute the air time! Thank you very much.

    We have had a problem with stagnant water up and down the street where I live for about 9 weeks now. There are thousands of mosquitos all over and the street and the state refuses to do anything, we keep getting excuses. I live at 4931 W. Coolidge ST. in phoenix Arizona. Please help us get this problem resolved before people start getting sick from being bit by the mosquitos. Thank you.

    With spring around the corner, is there a specific time they lay eggs, i have 2 neighbors with pool covers with standing rain/snow water on them. I’ve already noticed mosquitoes here in late march due to a warmer winter. I know summer is the primary season but what can we do early in the year to prevent the spread of mosquitoes other than removing standing water. Thanks.

    Get mosquito nets for sleeping. Try a few different repellents.
    Additionally you may like to try tea tree oil shampoo, available on Amazon, which is insect repellent, neem soap, which stops nearly all insects from biting, and is larvicidal in grey water at 18 ppm.
    It is the main soap used for washing clothes and people across India, Pakistan, and planted as street trees across Africa. 80% of locally made soap in India is neem oil based.
    Washing your hands washes off repellent, so its useful to have soap that reapplies a deterrent to mosquitoes.
    Every tree planted in your yard and street will soak up standing water, if sandy soil cuttings of mulberry tree are shallow rooted, soft, won’t rip up curbs, but will soak up water like crazy. Bonus, fresh fruit in spring.
    Waterlillies are larvicidal in ponds, add local breeds of small fish that eat mosquito larvae to every pond around town.
    In many places in India you are not allowed to kill any living thing, including mosquitoes, therefore it is necessary to use the traditional natural prevention strategies like neem soap, which is cheap and ubiquitous. CDC and WHO promote everything but traditional remedies which have worked for thousands of years.
    Try everything and see what works for you.

    This is the first time ever I read about the Zika virus… I just can’t get how I only found out about it now. Shouldn’t it have made the news? Or have it?

    We have rented a duplex for almost 4 years. When we moved in there was a old fish pond behind the neighbor’s side with stagnant standing water in it. Hasn’t been in use for yrs. It has algae in it and mosquito larvae galore. Every spring and summer we have a severe mosquito problem. When going outside were eaten alive. They even get in our house. Management is very aware of the pond and every year they say they’re gonna take care of it and don’t. What suggestions would you give us? Very concerned about this on going problem and health and safety of my kids,grandson, and other children that play in my yard.

    I garden and I need my three rain barrels to water my summer crops and flowers. I can’t keep them tightly closed because I need them to collect rain and I use the water nearly everyday. Can I add soap or something else to the barrels to deter mosquitoes without damaging my plants? I want to use water responsibly, grow my plants and discourage biting insects; I want it all.

    You can use larvicides to treat large containers of standing water, like rain barrels, that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out. You can get larvicides for this in tablet form (Mosquito dunks®) at home improvement stores. Always follow the instructions on the package.

    I am originally from Nigeria where mosquitoes tend to be a constant threat to everyone. Mosquitoes repellent is a big business since no one like those bugs. My grand created her own by drying the skin of oranges and using them as a repellent. I don’t recall if it worked. This is an informative post regarding Zika virus. I though they are all just called mosquitoes, had never heard of it till i read this post. I thought i knew a lot about mosquitoes but never knew that mosquito can survive while dry for up to 8 month and once wet will hatch and become adults in 2 weeks. You suggested simple but easy ways of preventing mosquitoes such as removing standing water to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs, closing storage water containers tightly if storage is necessary, and i also like your advise on sanitation. We tend to forget that good sanitary environment also prevent mosquitoes.

    When I first heard of the Zika virus I didn’t pay much attention to it. One (1) because I am not a pregnant woman and because I am not in an area where the Zika virus is currently prominent, how ever with the increased talk about the virus I am curious if affects a persons future pregnancy as well. Especially if she is infected and currently not pregnant. This blog does provide some informative information regarding the eggs of the aedes aegypti mosquito. Knowing that there eggs can survive for 8 months without water and being dry and then hatch within two weeks once it is exposed to water . This may create a huge risk for area that may have the virus but currently experiencing a drought, who can potentially encounter a rain storm. It sounds as thought it will be very difficult to control them if the virus ever affects the United States.

    Why isn’t this very important information included in the main CDC recommendation page? Are we waiting for an epidemic of Zika before we actually tell people about these simple preventive steps?

    Is the Zika virus transmitted down through generations of mosquitoes? In other words, if an infected mosquito lays eggs, and these eventually hatch into larvae and then adult mosquitoes, will those adults themselves be virus carriers capable of infecting humans?

    CDC has guidelines to prevent Zika that include removing standing water. Montgomery County,MD has done nothing to provide covers for the plastic recycling bins. When it rains, there is standing water and water in all of the recycling items. Pick-up can be longer than one week giving enough time to breed ! The County and the State have by useless in this case. Where is the government oversight?

    Spread of Zika virus from an infected female mosquito to her eggs has not been well studied, but researchers think the likelihood is generally very low.

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