Mosquito is a resilient insect which only needs as little as an inch (2 cm) of stagnant water to successfully breed. Typical homes offer numerous breeding sites and it is important to tidy up and prevent such situations to avoid a backyard full of pesky, biting insects. If you want to learn more about mosquito traps you can check out our list of the our favourite propane mosquito traps of 2019
Some of the most common problem areas:
- Tall grass and untrimmed bushes – mosquitoes like the shade and moisture of tall grass and garden shrubs during the daytime, which means that mowing your lawn and trimming your bushes effectively deprives the insect of its resting place. Even an overturned leaf can provide enough water for the mosquito to lay its eggs or lie low, so raking the leaves is also a good idea to keep your home mosquito free.
- Empty containers – any yard or garden usually has some water containers stored outside or just laying around. Buckets, empty bottles, even children’s toys, anything that can fill up with water is a potential problem and should be tidied up or stored in a dry place. If you have pet bowls outside, you should change the water daily. Creating some holes to allow the water to drain is also a possibility when you have items outside that unnecessarily hold water.
- Clogged rain gutters – leaves, twigs, dirt or sand and any number of debris can fill your rain gutters and prevent the water from properly draining and as such cause a potential breeding site for the insects. Make sure to regularly clean your gutters to prevent standing water, especially in the summer.
- Pools, ponds and bird baths – make sure to keep the water in your pool clean and
chlorinated. When not used, cover it or drain the water, that applies for any kind of pool. Ponds and bird baths are lovely decorative elements, but you should change or add fresh water weekly to prevent insect infestation. Stocking your pond with fish that feed on mosquito larvae is also a good idea.
- Low-lying areas in the backyard – water always flows to the lowest point and any such spots can retain water for days after rain or watering your lawn. You should fill depressions like that with dirt or gravel or insure that a drainage system is in place to remove the excess water.
Getting rid of standing water and potential breeding ground for mosquitoes is in no way a guarantee that your home will be insect free as there is always a possibility of them breeding in neighbouring locations and simply flying over. However, the feeding ground of most mosquitoes is within a couple hundred feet of their hatching place, so it will surely reduce their numbers in your immediate area.
Reducing the mosquito population, in addition to the practical advice mentioned above, is also possible using natural or biological methods.
Mosquito-feeding fish, plants acting as repellents, bacteria and even other insects can keep the mosquito numbers in the area in check. Bats, birds, spiders and even some turtles are all animals that feed on mosquitoes, most of them cannot be practically applied for home use though.
Many fish species also feed on mosquitos and one of the most efficient mosquito predators is a freshwater fish Gambusia, also known simply as mosquitofish. It is native to Southeastern USA, reaches the size around 2 inches (5 cm) and is very resilient and adaptable to harsh environments, which makes it suitable to settle in your backyard pond or pool. Mosquitofish feed on mosquito larvae at all stages of their life, adult specimens being able to consume hundreds of larvae in one day, making them an ideal method of mosquito control. A dozen Gambusia are sufficient for water surface area of roughly 48 square feet (4,5 m 2 ). The species is a very effective predator and its diet is not exclusive to mosquitoes, therefore its usage is only recommended in closed systems as it can otherwise cause harmful effects to other native species and biodiversity.
Another successful mosquito predator is the dragonfly and while it may look scary, it is in fact only dangerous to other insects. In its aquatic larvae or “nymph” stage it feeds on mosquito and other insect larvae, while adult dragonflies feed on fully matured insects, being one of the world’s most efficient hunters. In the USA there are documented efforts of importing and introducing dragonflies to the local environment to help battle insect population. For your home situation, you can attract dragonflies by providing them a suitable and safe environment for them to thrive. A small pond with shallow and deep ends, surrounded by aquatic vegetation and some flat rocks for the dragonflies to bask in the sun is usually a good choice.
A different way to get rid of annoying mosquitoes and other insects in your garden and around your home is by planting some insect repellent plants. Most of these plants emit fragrances and essential oils that are a deterrent to mosquitoes and at the same time providing pleasant scents for your home or even fine culinary herbs. The best effects however are achieved when the plant leaves are crushed and rubbed against your skin or the plants are disturbed by passers-by in walkways. Both ways enhance the release of the essential oils and fragrance, while masking your own scent at the same time.
Some of the plants most known as mosquito repellents are lavender, citronella grass, catnip and mint in general, basil and rosemary. Most of these are low maintenance plants that enjoy warm climates, which are usually more problematic considering mosquitoes, but can be grown in moderate climates as well.
Lastly, a naturally occurring bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, which is used in ponds and other mosquito breeding sites as a larvicide. The larvae ingest the bacteria in the water, the bacteria then break down into toxic substances, effectively eliminating the larvae and controlling the mosquito population. Bti is commercially grown in fish meal or soy flour and sold in form of pellets, which are easily obtainable in most home and garden stores. The pellets are placed in water and slowly release the bacteria. Bti is not effective against adult mosquitoes and is not harmful to other animals or even most other insects.
If nothing else works you can always buy a good mosquito trap, some work better than other but at least you’ll see the results – dead mosquitoes in your trap 🙂
You can read more about mosquito control here.