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Fight back against mosquitoes with 5 FAQs

Collegian | Trin Bonner

It’s routine. Fort Collins is used to mosquito spraying and West Nile virus fears, but just like in the other seasons, climate change is making chaos out of our routines. Most of summer is behind us, but most of the mosquitoes are still ahead.

We hope you continue to enjoy all the best seasonal activities while also avoiding some of the worst nature has to offer. 

1. What are the basics?

Drain: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, like rain water gathered in tires, pools, gutters and birdbaths. Drain out all those little pools that build up in your yard.


Dress: Cover your skin while you’re outside. Lightweight long sleeves and long pants not only protect you from bugs but are also a great place to spray repellent if you want to keep DEET off your skin.

Defend: Use mosquito repellent as directed when going outside. A light spray is enough for a few hours.

Dawn/dusk: A mosquito’s favorite times to eat are the hours around sunrise and sunset. Try to avoid being outside during those hours, especially around lakes, ponds and other standing water.

2. What diseases can mosquitoes give me and my pets?

The most likely mosquito-borne disease candidates are the following:

  • For people: West Nile virus
  • For domestic pets, including dogs, cats, birds, horses and others: West Nile virus
  • For cats and dogs: heartworm disease
  • For horses: eastern equine encephalitis

3. Should I avoid DEET?

When used as directed, DEET is not only safe but also a preferable experience to the potential diseases. However, there are some real and effective alternative options.

The Larimer County website recommends DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 as repellents.

4. How do I keep mosquitos away from my house?

  • Close doors and windows without screens.
  • Use air conditioning.
  • Remember that mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs. Clean out dishes, flower vases, humidifiers and other standing water at least once a week.

5. Is the city’s mosquito spray dangerous for me and my pets?

The key ingredient of the pesticide Fort Collins sprays is permethrin.

The pesticide permethrin can be broken down quickly by sunlight. It does not mix well with water, so it doesn’t usually contaminate groundwater. Cats are more sensitive to permethrin than people or dogs. Lastly, trace amounts of permethrin can stick around on vegetation for up to three weeks. So wash food from the garden, and don’t let your pets graze until the grass has been watered.

The City of Fort Collins website regularly updates mosquito spraying information.


The city thoroughly maps and schedules mosquito spraying, and residents can even sign up to receive alerts when their area is sprayed.

Getting sprayed? There’s no opting out, so those who are sensitive to pesticides can consider these precautions:

  • Cover up gardens and water features in your yard. 
  • Remember to wash food from gardens. 
  • Cover the fresh air intake if you’re running the air conditioning.
  • Keep yourself, your pets and your children inside for at least half an hour.

Cover up your skin, mist a little of that good old DEET and enjoy the season before the snowpocalypse strikes back.

Reach Jenn Dawson at or on Twitter @JennFriend_y.

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About the Contributors
Jenn Dawson
Jenn Dawson, Science Editor

Jenn Dawson's audacious plan to change the world involves brain sciences, data and science communication, investigative journalism and community education alongside strong notes of ethics, justice, persistence and inclusion — with subtle hints of comedy, music and family.

With the help of her nontraditional journey through education, Dawson aims to use her future degrees in psychology and journalism to seek the truth and share what she learns. There's no better way to get started doing just that than taking on the privilege of starting up The Collegian's first science desk. On the rare occasions that project and assignment due dates are not imminent, Dawson plays Dungeons & Dragons and video games, forages and takes photos in the mountains, enjoys Fort Collins and plays music.  Dawson's other focuses are advocacy-oriented, and she's always on the lookout for the most effective ways to support the causes she cares for the most. She loves participating in local organizations and community projects. Notably, Dawson is excited to work with the Northern Colorado Deliberative Journalism Project, a local media collaboration project with a goal to reconsider the nature of journalism. Thank you for supporting students, local news and The Collegian!
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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