Zika already impacting Virginia, entomologists recommend ways of keeping mosquitoes out of your backyard

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) There are 18 reported cases of Zika in Virginia according to the state Department of Health.

Virginia Tech researchers are working to stop that number from growing.

Entomologists at the university are not alarmed, and urging us all not be either.

But still there are people throughout the state who are being treated for the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning for people traveling to areas like South America where Zika is spreading fast.

"Not all mosquitoes are guilty of carrying diseases but they are all guilty of annoying us for sure," said Eric Day, an Entomologist at Virginia Tech.

If you haven't noticed them yet, you will soon.

Mosquitoes are waking up for the summer and sticking around for a while.

Entomologists study their behavior and tendencies and noticed they don't generally migrate.

When they're passing on a disease like West Nile or Malaria, they need a host.

In the case of Zika, that's an animal or someone who have visited a region with the virus.

"They go somewhere where Zika is actively being transmitted for instance, Puerto Rico right now," said Sally Paulson, an entomologist at Virginia Tech.

Entomologists say it has to be a perfect storm, of sorts, for Zika to hit our region and spread through the most common type of mosquito here, the Asian Tiger Mosquito.

"The population of the Asian Tiger Mosquito builds up throughout the summer. So the numbers are actually higher as we go later into the summer. The greatest risk would be mid to late summer," Paulson said.

Entomologists are reminding people now more than ever to wear insect repellent, long sleeves and pants, and check yards for places where mosquitoes could breed.

"All kinds of places that can hold water are places where we can get these container breeding mosquitoes now factor in the spread of Zika virus in South American and that kind of makes you much more aware of mosquitoes," Day said.

That includes water bowls for pets, and stagnate puddles of water on plastics, or in gutters.

The best way to get rid of their breeding ground is dumping that water every week.