Summer is upon us and certain sounds can spark feelings of nostalgia. Birds chirping, cicadas singing, bees buzzing, steaks sizzling on the grill… predacious mosquitoes screaming in your ear followed by furious slapping and copious amounts of cursing. These annoying blood suckers can really put a damper on your backyard barbecue. With mosquitoes sometimes the best offense is a good defense. With a little bit of planning and being proactive you can take back your yard and enjoy the outdoors.
First, you need to eliminate breeding sites. Adult female mosquitoes lay their eggs in or near a water source. The larvae hatch from the eggs and develop underwater. These are the little squiggly things you see dancing around the water in your bird bath. They pupate and then the adult mosquitoes emerge and fly away. Males feed on pollen and nectar while the females seek out a blood meal to be able to produce her eggs. They can go from egg to adult in about 1 to 2 weeks and only need a small amount of water to do this. Look around your yard to find items or low-lying areas that hold water and get rid of it. Dump out the water from unused flower pots, old tires, buckets, trash cans, wheelbarrows, and other containers. Replace the water in the bird bath on a weekly basis. Fill in low-lying areas in your yard to eliminate any standing water. Mosquitoes don’t breed well in moving water so if you have a fish pond you can install a fountain or some kind of agitator to keep the water moving. You can also buy certain types of fish that feed on mosquito larvae. Clogged gutters are notorious for breeding mosquitoes. Regularly clean your gutters or inquire about Terminix Service Inc.’s Leaf Proof gutter protection system.
Now that the nearby breeding sites have been eliminated, you have to worry about the adults that will fly in from other areas. There are lots of different types of mosquito control or repellent devices out there, how do you know which ones actually work? Well, let’s look at some of the most popular devices available…
Ultrasonic mosquito repellent devices: There are many mosquito repellent devices on the market that claim to work by emitting ultrasonic sounds. Do not waste your money on these because they do not work. These are some of the biggest scams around and there should be a law against them.
Bug zappers: These devices use an ultraviolet light to lure insects to an electrified wire grid that cooks them. Other than providing some entertainment, they are not useful. They attract insects from other areas and they don’t reduce mosquito populations that much. They also kill many beneficial insects as well. If someone gives you a bug zapper as a gift, give it to your neighbor so that it will attract the mosquitoes in your yard over to theirs.
CO2-emitting machines: These machines use propane to create CO2 which attracts mosquitoes. When they fly close to the machine it sucks them in with a fan and kills them. They do catch many mosquitoes but they can be expensive. They also need to be placed away from the areas you are in.
Mosquito mist systems: These are a series of misting nozzles connected by tubing and installed along the eaves, fences, and other areas. These systems require a large amount of pesticide to be stored on site. They are connected to a timer that is programmed to go off periodically, usually morning and evening. These systems are expensive and are currently scrutinized by the EPA because they tend to affect beneficial insects that may be near the nozzles when they go off.
Citronella candles/ Tiki torches: Citronella candles and smoke do repel mosquitoes, but only in the immediate vicinity. So unless you are standing directly above or in front of the flame they are very limited in their effectiveness.
As you can see there are many options available for mosquito control. The Terminix Service, Inc. mosquito management program uses a combination of treating adult mosquito resting sites and the larval breeding areas. During the heat of the day the adult mosquitoes rest in low-lying shady areas such as under the leaves in bushes and under decks. These areas are treated once a month using a backpack power mist blower. Breeding sites that cannot be eliminated are treated with an insect growth regulator which will not affect other animals. This seems to be an effective program based on the positive feedback from our customers.
You can also help keep mosquitoes from nibbling on you while outdoors by using personal mosquito repellents and fans. The mosquito repellents that use DEET or Picaridin as the active ingredient seem to be the most effective. Using fans also helps because mosquitoes are not good fliers in windy conditions. You can also encourage mosquito eating animals to live nearby. Bats eat tons of mosquitoes. Hang bat roosting boxes around your yard (away from the house of course) to entice bats to stick around. Spiders, frogs and lizards also like to eat mosquitoes but most people try not to keep these critters around.
Hopefully you can enjoy the outdoors this summer by using this information to keep those nasty skeeters away. Now you just have to worry about the heat and when to flip the burgers.