The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and itchy mosquito bites may already be a problem in your neighborhood. In honor of the American Mosquito Control Association’s National Mosquito Control Awareness Week that runs through June 29, 2019, the Sussex County Office of Mosquito Control (SCOMC) has tips to help declare independence from those pesky bloodsuckers.Pools are open and grills are going, but are you cooking up a breeding ground for mosquitoes? Standing water and dark clothing are two things that attract them. SCOMC recommends people follow the three D’s to keep mosquitoes away:• Drain: Empty out water containers at least once per week• Dress: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light colored, loose-fitting clothing• Defend: Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptusMake your yard a mosquito-free zone by: disposing of tires; drilling holes in the bottom of recycling containers; clearing roof gutters of debris; cleaning pet water dishes regularly; checking and emptying children’s toys; and changing the water in bird baths at least once a week.-Paige Lockburner, SCOMC Supervisor, says, “Encouraging your neighbors to also eliminate sources on their own property is critical to a community-wide program. Mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle. If their water source is eliminated, so are their offspring.”Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. Their bites can spread diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus, which are both viruses that have been found in Sussex County. Exotic diseases such as Zika and Chikungunya also pose a threat to our community. “We already have the mosquitoes. We are continually importing diseases they carry. We must be prepared to prevent their spread throughout our public health landscape - and this requires safe, effective, sustained mosquito control and awareness in the community,” said Paige Lockburner. For more information on how to protect yourself, your home or the products used by the Office of Mosquito Control, call 973-940-5225 or visit www.sussex.nj.us/mosquito.