Aside from the irritation caused by mosquito bites, we need to be concerned about the role mosquitoes play in transmitting West Nile virus (which has now spread throughout the USA) and several forms of encephalitis. There are 62 mosquito species in the state: some feed during the day and others at night; some breed in swamps and others in tire tracks; some are attracted by estrogen, or sweat, or carbon dioxide, and others are not. The day-feeders prefer deep shade, so keeping in the open is effective. The best prevention is clothing (NOT skin) sprayed with permethrin, which kills mosquitoes (and ticks) on contact and lasts 3 or 4 days. DEET is a good, but is only a temporary repellant on exposed skin; it should not be applied to covered skin. Lake Sagamore is relatively mosquito-free and no case of West Nile has been reported, but birds (particularly crows and songbirds) are the primary reservoir and any dead bird should be bagged and sent to local health authorities for testing.

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