How to protect yourself against the world’s deadliest pest

mosquito bite

They might only be small but the humble mosquito can still pack a terrible punch. The World Health Organization estimates mosquitoes cause about a million deaths every year mainly through spreading malaria. 

Thankfully thanks to the mosquito eradication policies of the 1950s, malaria is no longer a public health problem in the USA.

We may have gotten rid of malaria but we certainly haven’t gotten rid of mosquitoes.  There are an estimated  170 species of mosquito in the USA and some of them are still capable of spreading nasty diseases.

The most common disease spread by mosquitoes is the West Nile Virus, with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting cases in all 48 lower states.

Mosquitoes can also spread Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus. These potentially more serious public health problems are thankfully currently restricted to relatively small areas of the far south of the USA.

But even if we ignore the threat of serious diseases, the fact is mosquitoes are just plain annoying.  Their buzzing and biting can ruin our enjoyment of the great outdoors during the long hot summer months

What can we do to eliminate mosquitoes from our yards?

As with most pests the key to controlling mosquitoes is to understand their lifecycle.  This will give us clues as to what we can do to help eliminate them from our yard.

mosquito life cycle

Discourage the adults

Let’s start with the adult stage. Most mosquitoes are only active at night which means they need somewhere to hide and rest during the day.

Keeping your grass and shrubs trimmed short will give them fewer places to hide and discourage them from hanging around your yard.

Only the female mosquitoes feed on blood with males preferring nectar from flowers.  So if you are bitten it will be a female looking to get protein from your blood in order to create her eggs. And once she’s fed the female will look for a suitable body of water in which to lay her eggs.

Stop them laying eggs

They prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant or standing water and they don’t need much, sometimes just a fraction of an inch. So be aware of any places that can hold more than a thimble full of water because only a tiny amount of water is needed for a mosquito to lay their eggs.

Check and drain anything that can hold standing water: old bottle caps, tires, trash bins or bags, plant pots, blocked drains and gutters, garden furniture, children’s toys and plain old puddles.

Be aware also that the eggs can survive even if the water evaporates.  Providing the surface remains damp they will simply stay dormant until the next rain fills it up again. So even if you regularly empty your bird bath don’t forget to wipe it clean to remove any remaining eggs

Get them while they are young

The eggs hatch into larvae called wigglers.  These larvae feed in the water (which is why they prefer stagnant water) until they turn into pupae (called tumblers)

Introduce top feeding fish such as minnows into larger ponds that can’t be drained then. It’s not always possible but if you can they will eat the larvae and control the mosquito population.

In small ponds it also helps to encourage surface wave action through the use of water features and fountains.

As a last resort small bodies of water can also be treated with a chemical larvicide designed to kill the larvae or stop them maturing into adult mosquitoes

Summary

The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) promotes a three steps approach to mosquito control called the 3D’s:

  • 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-eucalyptus

As you can see, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself and help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard.

But to truly address the problem and defend yourself, your family and your guests from the scourge of mosquitoes – not just bites but also the risk of mosquito transmitted diseases. It pays to get input from a Pest Management Professional.

They will:

·         Help you identify and eliminate likely breeding places.

·         Choose the right larvicide to use

·         Spray your yard to kill any adult mosquitoes using the most appropriate and safest products 

professional help will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your garden this summer. Whether you engage them on a regular treatment plan or just use them for a one-off treatment prior to a garden party or BBQ.

To talk to a pest management professional about protecting your yard check out pestresponders.com

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