Maybe you've already smacked a pesky mosquito that landed on your leg.

In central Ohio, the battle against the summertime pests has begun.

Franklin County Public Health handles mosquito control for the city of Canal Winchester and has already started trapping the insects in order to test for West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes are most prominent in Ohio from May to October and the mild winter could lead to more of them, according to Mitzi Kline, a spokeswoman for Franklin County Public Health.

"We started trapping mosquitoes on May 15, so we are testing mosquitoes every week to monitor the types of mosquitoes that are flying and test for West Nile virus," she said.

Kline said no human cases of the virus have been found so far, but tests of a mosquito pool in Norwich Township near Hilliard did test positive for West Nile. The infected pool was identified as part of a weekly surveillance of 50 traps throughout the county.

The state reported 17 human cases of West Nile virus last year.

Like other central Ohio communities, Canal Winchester contracts with Franklin County Public Health for mosquito control. Experts use many techniques and tools to accomplish this, including "larviciding" areas of stagnant water; doing surveys of adult mosquito populations by trapping the insects and issuing a variety of educational materials.

According to information from the county agency, historical data about breeding locations, areas that traditionally have a high adult mosquito population and the frequency of mosquito-borne disease also helps guide control efforts.

Residents can do their part by reporting areas they suspect may be mosquito-breeding zones. Problems and concerns can be reported by calling 614-525-2483 or at myfcph.org.

"Residents can make a huge impact on reducing the mosquito population around the home by emptying anything that holds even tiny amounts of water," she said.

This includes doing the following:

* Empty, remove, cover or turn over any container that has the potential to hold water.

* Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.

* Make sure gutters and downspouts are free of blockage and are properly draining.

* Change the water in wading pools weekly and store indoors when not in use.

* Properly dispose of old tires.

* Empty planters that hold water twice each week.

* Empty bird baths twice weekly.

* Empty pets' water dishes daily.

* Use sand to plug holes in trees where water can collect.

* Drain or fill low areas on your property that hold water for more than three days.

* Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their property.

Most disease-carrying mosquitoes spend their entire lives near the container-breeding site. An adult mosquito's lifespan lasts only about a few weeks. However, female mosquitoes may produce several batches of eggs during that time.

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"We started trapping mosquitoes on May 15, so we are testing mosquitoes every week to monitor the types of mosquitoes that are flying and test for West Nile virus."

-- MITZI KLINE

Franklin County Public Health