It’s been a very wet spring, and not surprisingly, many people have ended up at the BugBlog looking for ways to deal with mosquitoes. The “What’s the best way to repel mosquitoes” post has popped to the top of the “most-viewed” list.
Mosquitoes are so bad at my house, even spraying my clothes with DEET isn’t enough to stop them–a tiny gap between the buttons was all it took for some mozzies to buzz in and get tangled in my bra. I’ve been bitten twice just while writing this post, and I’m inside my office right now.
Although the adult females that bite have wings, the larval (baby) forms are aquatic and need standing water to live in.
- Empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
- Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of trash items that hold water, such as old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, and bottles.
- Make sure drainage ditches actually are draining, and don’t have standing water. Removing blockages can make a big difference.
- Clean your gutters! You’d be amazed at how many mosquitoes can breed in even a small pool of water in your gutters.
Lastly, make sure your screens are in good shape, too. There’s nothing worse than the whine of a lonely mosquito somewhere in your bedroom, late at night. By denying female mosquitoes a blood meal, you can prevent them from breeding as well. They can’t lay eggs without that nourishing drink.
If you have standing water that you can’t get rid of, such as an ornamental pond or water feature, you might want to consider using “mosquito donuts.” (The fancy name for this is applying microbial larvicide.) These are usually little round disks that contain spores of a bacteria that kills fly larvae.
These spores are B. t. israelensis, which is a variant of the Bacillus thuringensis that is used to kill caterpillars. Bt bacteria work by giving insects a sort of stomach flu–since humans are quite different than insects, it has no effect on us or other vertebrates (birds, pets, etc.).
Some of the brand names this biological control is sold under include Skeetal, Aquabac, Mosquito Attack, and Gnatrol. Any good garden center should know what you’re asking for and help you locate them in the pesticide section.
If you have a very large water area, that tends to not breed as many mosquitoes. Larger, permanent ponds and lakes tend to have plenty of predatory insects, amphibians, and fish that keep the mosquitoes under control.
Installing a fountain in any water feature helps to keep mosquitoes down as well. Mosquitoes essentially float with their butt on the surface of the water, breathing air through their hind end. If you agitate the surface of the water with a fountain, it’s hard for the females to light on the water and lay eggs, and for the larvae to float (and breathe!)
All of these steps will help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes attacking you, and make you a good neighbor to boot. Sadly, if you keep your gutters and yard tidy, and your neighbor doesn’t… better get some more repellent.