Rain Water Collection Could Give Rise to Mosquitoes

Gardeners are gleaming because of the rain.

Yesterday, many started collecting rain water in barrels, buckets and any other container they could find.

But here in Wichita Falls, health officials are warning residents to make sure their rain water collection does not give rise to mosquitoes.

Sunday was not a day of rest for gardeners like Beth Turlington.

When showers started falling she started filling containers.

"I got out everything I could think of that could hold water to catch rain water," Turlington says.

She says her rain gauge measured 1.5 inches.

"And half an inch just nearly halfway filled a 100 gallon tank that I collect rain water in," Turlington adds.

And using this water to keep her plants alive will not cost her a water surcharge or a fine.

Catching rain water is obviously free of charge but health officials say it does raise one concern.

It can create a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"Culex container breeders. They have to deposit their eggs on the surface but some others, such as Aedes species can lay their eggs on the side of the barrels where it's dry... no water... and wait for the water to rise up in the barrel. At that time, of course, their eggs will start replicating," Jimmy Garcia says, health inspections supervisor with the Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health District.

And health officials say those eggs stay around for a long time.

"There have been studies of eggs being kept in containers or glass jars for five to seven years and once water is applied then they hatch" adds Garcia

That's why health officials recommend collecting rain in a rain barrel, which typically has a covered top and a screen to keep mosquitoes out.

Turlington's containers do not a cover but she still takes precautions against mosquitoes.

"I use the mosquito dunks that look like little donuts and they kill the mosquito larvae. Won't hurt the plants. Won't hurt the dogs that occasionally stick their heads in there and get a drink. It just kills the mosquito larvae, Turlington explains.

And most importantly, Turlington says collecting rain water does not put a drain on her wallet.

Many people simply use what they can to collect rain from pots to empty garbage cans.

But if you're looking for container that are 50 gallons or larger, several local home improvement and farming stores still have rain barrels.

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