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Join our SMS program for helpful tips and reminders to protect yourself, your family and community from the disease risks and nuisance of mosquitoes.

You will receive 1-2 SMS messages per week from February - April 2021.
Community action

Protect your family, protect your community

Tackling Mosquitoes Together is a community-driven project to reduce the disease risks and nuisance of mosquitoes in our homes and communities in the Northern Rivers.

We all find mozzies a nuisance, but not everyone knows that they also spread diseases that can cause serious illness and have long-term health impacts.

The risks of mosquito-borne diseases are increasing due to the impacts of climate change and extreme wet weather events that make breeding conditions more favourable for mosquitoes.

By taking action together, we can:

  • reduce the number of mosquitoes breeding in water-holding containers in our backyards
  • protect ourselves and our families from exposure to mosquitoes
  • reduce the public health risks caused by mosquitoes
  • be better prepared for any future climate related impacts of mosquitoes.
If we all do our bit in our own backyard, together we will protect our families and the community.
In your backyard

Mozzies in your backyard

Water-holding containers make perfect mozzie breeding habitats. Many of these water-holding containers are found in our backyards and around our homes.

Mozzies need still and stagnant water to lay their eggs, and they can lay more than 300 eggs at once.

Mozzies only take 8-10 days to breed – that’s a lot of extra mozzies around your home each week!

To reduce mozzies around your home, empty water-holding containers once a week.

DOWNLOAD OUR BACKYARD CHECKLIST
FAMILY PROTECTION

Using insect repellents

You can help protect yourself and your family from the nuisance and disease risks of mosquitos by correctly applying repellent.

Applying repellent is easy, but there are some things your should know to make sure you are doing it correctly:

  1. Apply repellent directly and evenly to all areas of exposed skin – like sunscreen
  2. A dab of repellent here and there won’t work – mozzies will find and bite any areas of skin you miss
  3. Reapply repellent according to the label, or when you feel mozzies starting to bite
  4. Always purchase approved products and follow the instructions on the label.

The most effective and safe repellents contain at least one of the following active ingredients:

  • Picardin
  • DEET
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
TIP: Pump spray repellents are generally more effective than aerosols because they are easier to rub onto your skin
DOWNLOAD OUR REPELLENT GUIDE
Disease risks

Mosquitoes and disease

There are over 300 species of mosquitoes in Australia. They breed in lots of different habitats, from wetlands and floodplains, to small water-holding containers in our backyards.

The Northern Rivers is home to many of these species. Not only are mozzies a nuisance, but they can spread human disease-causing pathogens including Ross River Virus and Barmah Forrest Virus.

429 cases of Ross River Virus were reported by the Northern NSW Local Health District in 2020. That is the second highest number of cases on record, up from an average of 135 cases a year over the last 30 years.

These viruses aren’t fatal but they can cause serious illness and have long-term health impacts.

Some of the mosquitoes that spread these viruses breed in water-holding containers around our homes.

And that's why it's so important we tackle mosquitoes together.
What are you Itching to KNow

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the SMS program free?

Yes. Tackling Mosquitoes Together is proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with Local Government NSW.

It is a collaboration between the seven Northern Rivers Councils and the North Coast Public Health Unit.

Note: your mobile phone carrier may charge for data use and if you choose to send SMS messages in reply.

How do I sign up to the SMS program?

Join our SMS program by filling out this short form.

How many text messages will I receive?

You will receive up to two text messages a week until 30 April 2021 when the pilot program finishes. You can opt out at any time by replying STOP.

Is my personal data safe?

Yes. Tackling Mosquitoes Together is being managed by The Social Deck on behalf of the Northern Rivers Councils. Your data will be handled in accordance with The Social Deck's privacy policy.

Your data may be shared with relevant Norther Rivers Councils for the purposes of running Tackling Mosquitoes Together in the future.

What is included in my Tackling Mosquitoes Together education pack?

Your education pack comes in a calico bag that includes:
• a brochure
• a backyard checklist
• a bottle of repellent
• insect repellent tips
• a sticker

How do I get my education pack?

There are two ways to collect your education pack, depending on how you sign up.
If you join:
• online, you can collect your education pack from your local council
• at a community event, a friendly council staff member will give you your pack.

Are insect repellents safe?

Yes. The most effective and safe repellents contain at least one of the following active ingredients:

• Picardin
• DEET
• Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

All repellents in Australia must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMP) to ensure they are safe and effective.

Never mix up your own repellent using essential oils. You are far more likely to irritate your skin.

Do councils have mosquito control (spraying) programs?

Some councils in the Northern Rivers run targeted mosquito control programs. However, in many areas of the region it is difficult to effectively control mosquitoes because their habitats are either so extensive, or located in national parks and other areas where insecticide use is not considered appropriate.

Will councils continue their mosquito control programs, as well as the Tackling Mosquitoes Together program?

Yes. Councils will continue their individual mosquito control programs. Tackling Mosquitoes Together is all about community action and doing our bit in our own backyards.Contact your local council for more information about their mosquito control programs.

Are there certain types of plants that repel mosquitoes?

Unfortunately not. The essential oils from some Australian trees, shrubs and herbs repel mosquitoes, but only after they have been extracted and concentrated. These trees and shrubs don’t offer protection from mosquitoes if they are planted in your garden.

If I tip water on a garden bed and there are eggs or larvae in it, can they still become active mozzies if they are far enough into the breeding cycle?

No. Mosquito larvae (or wrigglers) need standing water to complete their development. If they are ‘stranded’ on the ground, they won’t complete their development.

Why do mozzies bite some people more than others?

Mosquitoes bite because the females need blood to develop their eggs. They get their blood from a range of animals, but they also bite people. They can sense the carbon dioxide on our breath, as well as our body heat and the smell of our skin. The complex ‘smells’ of our skin help the mosquitoes to find and bite some people more than others. It is important to remember that even if you don’t think you’re a ‘mosquito magnet’, mosquitoes are still likely to bite you, so always make sure you protect yourself.

What are the most common types of mosquitoes and diseases in our local area?

There are dozens of different mosquitoes in northern NSW. Some are very rare or do not pose a pest or public health risk. The most common mosquitoes are found in coastal wetlands, freshwater habitats, or water-holding containers in our backyards. These mosquitoes bite and can spread pathogens that can make us sick, such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. NSW is fortunate to be free of serious mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue and malaria.

Can I get malaria or dengue in the Northern Rivers?

No. Australia has been free of malaria for many decades.  There are no mosquitoes currently found in NSW that can transmit dengue viruses, but we need to be prepared for if this happens in future. Overseas travellers returning to northern NSW may be diagnosed with these mosquito-borne diseases, but there is no significant risk of local outbreaks at this stage.

What can I eat or drink to stop mosquitoes biting?

There are many urban myths about certain types of food and drinks that can stop mozzies biting, but no scientific evidence to support this. It’s always best to reduce mozzies in your backyard and use personal protection like repellent, protective clothing and coils.