Many Tuolumne County residents are collecting and storing excess gray water in buckets and barrels around their homes to conserve for landscaping use during the current drought.
However, they may also be unknowingly attracting mosquitoes that can pose a threat to humans and pets.
Standing water is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. Veterinarians and public health officials say that just a single bite from these insects can spread diseases in both humans and animals, especially dogs, cats and horses.
Tuolumne Utilities District, the county's largest water purveyor, is asking customers to cut their water usage by 50 percent.
The agency has also told customers to eliminate lawn watering and limit outside watering through drip systems to certain days. The district is also encouraging customers to use gray water - used water collected from showers and sinks - to irrigate their plants.
It's that gray water, when stored, that can create a breeding ground.
A mosquito's life cycle consists of four stages - egg, larvae, pupa and adult.
Adult female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, and larvae feed off of organic matter and bacteria in the water after hatching.
For the complete story, see the May 13, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.