Everyone can agree that mosquitoes become quite a nuisance when the weather starts to warm up. Besides leaving itchy bites on your skin, mosquitoes can also transmit serious diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika virus. The best way to prevent mosquitoes is to disrupt their breeding cycle. This starts with identifying how and where they reproduce and eliminating those areas around your home.
Different species of mosquitoes have different breeding habits but the majority of them prefer to lay their eggs in or near water. Mosquitoes can produce anywhere from 100 to 300 eggs at a time. These eggs will hatch within 48 hours into larvae and then spend the next week to 10 days growing into pupae. Adults will then emerge about 2 days later. The total life cycle takes about 14 days from egg to adult. Mosquitoes typically become active and start breeding when the temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually occurs in the spring and summer months and can extend into fall in some areas.
In order to disrupt this breeding cycle, the first step is to figure out where they are most likely to breed in and around your property. The most obvious place is anywhere there is standing water that accumulates regularly:
- Recycle any old tires, cans, bottles or other items you may have laying around.
- Get rid of any areas mosquitoes find cool, damp, and dark as these are ideal conditions for laying eggs – keep the lawn mowed, the shrubbery trimmed, and cut down any weeds and vines growing in the yard or next to the house.
- Clear out any weeds, leaves, and other debris from pipes, especially ones that run under the driveway. Also make sure water doesn’t pool inside or near the ends of the pipe.
- Empty and turn over any containers that can house water such as cans, jars, bottles, buckets, flower pots, drums, wheelbarrows, children’s toys, and tarps.
- Drain or fill in any depressions on your property, e.g. potholes or anywhere water can collect and stand for more than 5 days.
- Tightly cover any permanent water containers like septic tanks and wells and make sure they are insect-proof.
- Repair any leaky pipes and faucets.
- Keep trashcans covered and tightly sealed to prevent rain from seeping inside.
- Make sure to drain boats, canoes, and kayaks and either cover them or keep them turned over.
But what about areas that can’t be drained or covered like pools and ponds?
- Change the water in your birdbaths at least once a week or use a circulating bird bath to keep water flowing.
- Clean out your pet’s water bowls daily and change out the water.
- Keep swimming pools properly treated with chemicals and cover when not in use or drain completely.
- Empty and clean out wading pools or kiddie pools at least once a week and turn them on their sides when not in use.
- Put screens over your rain barrels to let water in but keep mosquitoes out.
- Consider stocking your ornamental pools or ponds with fish that eat mosquitoes. Minnows are great for smaller pools/ponds and mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) are a good option for larger bodies of water.
- You can also introduce a bacteria called Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis) to your pools and ponds to kill mosquito larvae.
- Consider adding a commercial larvicide to any areas of water that can’t be covered or drained, as well.
Even taking all of these precautions, mosquitoes can still be difficult to control, especially in the summer. You can always call a professional mosquito control provider who can give you a free estimate and set you up with a comprehensive mosquito treatment plan.