When you think of rain gutters, you may not think of the Zika virus, but you should.
Rain gutters that are not properly maintained can result in pools of standing water — a welcoming environment for mosquitoes.
According to the , mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in manmade objects. These eggs stick to the sides of whatever they’re laid in and hatch when they’re covered with water. Dry eggs can survive for up to eight months, so it’s important never to let water collect around your home or in your yard.
Keep objects that could inadvertently turn into mosquito breeding grounds turned over, such as wheelbarrows, empty flowerpots and saucers, pet dishes and children’s toys. If you have a rain barrel, make sure it is covered securely and that water never pools on top of it.
These tasks are easy enough to complete with objects in your yard, but rain gutters are another matter. More often than not, rain gutters are out of your reach (if they weren’t, you’d likely clean them yourself), and you can’t simply reach into them when you suspect there’s a clog and dislodge it.
That’s why it’s important to keep your gutters clean, and have them serviced on a regular basis — at least twice a year, more if you have trees that overhang your roof. Leaves, twigs and other debris can quickly build up and not only clog your rain gutters, but the weight can cause gutters to bend or pull away from the house entirely.
If you’ve had your gutters serviced recently and they’re clog-free, take the time to make sure your downspouts are also in good shape and are not allowing water to pool at the corners of your house. If you see standing water in these areas after a rainstorm, invest in some downspout extensions so the water can be carried away from your home and re-absorbed into the lawn.
It’s true that the Zika virus is not particularly prevalent in the United States right now, but the hot, humid summer months could bring an explosion of this dangerous disease spread by mosquitoes.
Even if this doesn’t happen, mosquitoes carry many other kinds of diseases, including West Nile virus and encephalitis. Most of the dangerous diseases mosquitoes carry are not common in the United States, like malaria and yellow fever, but if everyone in the world worked to curb the mosquito population, it could help end suffering in other countries where these diseases are more prevalent.
And it’s not just people — dogs and horses can become ill and die from mosquito bites too.
Protect yourself, your family, your pets and your neighbors this summer. Make sure your rain gutters are clean and free flowing and your downspouts don’t allow water to pool.