Mosquitos are coming to Aiken. Here's how to combat them.

Jun. 22—As the temperatures get hotter and the weather gets stickier, many residents are bound to see mosquitos begin to buzz around the CSRA.

Mosquitoes in South Carolina may carry West Nile virus, so officials say it's important to control the mosquito population in the community, monitor for diseases carried by mosquitoes and for residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Sarah Herring, solid waste administrator with the City of Aiken, said the city will send someone out to check the property if residents contact them with a complaint. Herring emphasized eliminating mosquito habitats as "getting rid of that gets rid of a lot of the problem."

"If we have a big problem in an area, that's when we'll go ahead and spray and get (the mosquitoes) knocked down," Herring said. "Again, the first and best line of defense is getting rid of their habitats; that tends to be the main focus of mosquito control."

Herring also said the city will start doing some mosquito trapping over the next few weeks in order to have them tested and see what kind of species are around this year.

Residents who wish to file a mosquito complaint with the City of Aiken can visit the city's website, scroll down to the City of Aiken Residents tab and click Mosquito Control, Management & Spraying.

While the insects are an annoyance to adults, they can also be a problem with younger children.

Trey Powell, a Mosquito Joe franchise owner based in Augusta, said kids tend to be an easy target because "they tend to be a little bit oblivious to the fact that they're getting bit by mosquitoes."

As such, Powell said parents should make sure to watch their children while they're playing and pay attention if the child starts scratching because they could be getting bitten.

"That's the worst thing in the world to have a child that just has 20 bites on them, and they're just scratching all night and screaming and crying," Powell said.

When a child gets bitten, there are a few different recommended strategies. Powell said ice can be applied immediately to try and reduce the swelling. To help combat itching, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can be used.

It is important, Powell said, to discourage scratching, as tempting as it may be for children.

"That's probably the hardest thing in the world," Powell said. "If it itches, they want to scratch it. It feels good to scratch it, at least at first. Then, it feels worse. You have to convince them that that's going to make it worse, which it does."

However, it is better for all parties to prevent being bitten than to treat bites.

Most of the mosquitoes in the CSRA are extremely lazy, Powell said, and don't generally travel more than 200 feet in their lifetimes.

One of the biggest keys to stopping mosquitoes, Powell said, is for residents to keep tabs on standing water sources near them. After a mosquito eats its "blood meal," it goes to lay eggs and needs standing water to do so.

Powell gave some examples of these water sources, including buckets, barrels, wheelbarrows, gutters, drains, downspouts, catch basins or the bottom of a flower pot.

"(Mosquitoes) really don't need a lot of water," Powell said. "You can breed 100 mosquitos out of a bottle cap. It doesn't take a lot of water, but it needs to be dirty water."

Residents should look for these sources of water and deal with them accordingly, Powell said. He recommended turning over containers on a weekly basis to ensure that there is no standing water in them.

Powell also recommended the tried-and-true method of using repellent sprays to keep mosquitos at bay. A few other tips he gave were to wear darker clothing as lighter clothing is more attractive to mosquitos and to make sure screens are in your windows and doors if you plan to have them open during the summer.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is recognizing National Mosquito Control Awareness Week this week and shared some tips to keep mosquitos away. Called the three "Ds," the tips are to drain (empty out water containers at least once a week), dress (wear long sleeves, long pants and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing) and defend (use mosquito repellants).

"As warm weather arrives and people encounter more mosquitoes, protecting yourself from bites becomes more important," said Dr. Chris Evans, state public health entomologist with DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health Services. "DHEC's surveillance program helps identify cases of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases in our state. Most mosquitoes are just a nuisance; however, we detect West Nile virus in mosquitoes in our state every year."