The warmer weather has been enjoyable. Over the last month or so I’ve been to plenty of fires, cookouts and fishing holes. But I’m not the only one, the mosquitoes have been enjoying these activities, too. When the sun goes down their buffet awaits.
Why control mosquito populations?
Aside from the annoyance of the itchy red bumps they leave behind from feeding on you, the potential for the spread of pathogens and diseases is another good reason to control mosquitoes around your home. West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Zika Virus and heartworm disease are all spread by mosquitoes.
Control and Prevention
Understanding mosquito biology is vital to manage mosquito populations. For example, mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water with organic nutrients. Eliminating places where mosquitoes can lay eggs prevents populations from growing. Similarly, adult mosquitoes can be targeted with insecticides in bushes and trees.
To effectively manage mosquito populations long-term, you may need to use a combination of mechanical, biological and chemical control methods.
Mechanical Control Methods. Mechanical control methods kill mosquitoes directly, block mosquitoes or make the environment unsuitable for their survival.
- Dump standing water sources regularly to eliminate habitats for larvae to grow.
- Limit, get rid of and seal off containers that can hold water.
- Maintain and clean pools regularly and make sure water is chlorinated.
- Check window and door screens for holes and repair them to keep adult mosquitoes out of your house.
- Remove vegetation and debris from water sources to prevent it from becoming enriched with organic nutrients that could support larvae growth. Example: clean your birdbath at least once a week.
- Use traps and bug zappers to limit adult populations.
- Fix water leaks to prevent pooling around your house/in your yard.
- Make sure gutters are clear and don’t hold water.
- Keep grass short to eliminate habitat for adult mosquitoes.
Biological Control Methods. Biological control is the use of natural enemies, such as predators, parasites, pathogens and competitors, to control mosquitoes.
- The mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis, eats mosquito larvae in water sources. This could be an option for pond owners to manage populations.
- Some bacteria, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis — the main ingredient in “mosquito dunks/bits” — or Bacillus sphaericus causes cellular breakdown in mosquito larvae.
- Mermithid nematodes eat mosquito larvae.
- Cyclopoid copepods eat the first and second larval stages of mosquitoes.
Chemical Control Methods. Chemical control is use use of pesticides to manage mosquitoes. Chemical controls can be used to eliminate both adult and larval stages; however, it’s important to know where they are likely to be found before applying pesticides. Additionally, it’s important to follow EPA guidelines and manufacturer instructions on how and when to apply pesticides to control mosquitoes. Chemical control methods should be used sparingly and in combination with other control methods for effective, long-term population management.
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