Mosquito bites can quickly ruin a backyard barbeque, and place your family and friends at risk of diseases like the West Nile Virus. The good news is that there are many things you can do to make your back yard less inviting for a mosquito infestation.
Mosquitoes need only two things to breed: standing water and time – as little as a few days. We think of mosquitoes breeding in large wet areas like swamps: but you may be surprised to learn that just as many mosquitoes can form in your own back yard. But with a few simple precautions, you keep mosquitoes in check and stay off their menu.
- Clean Gutters: Gutters clogged with debris allow stagnant water to form perfect landing zones for mosquito eggs. Clean gutters at least 4 times a year or install leaf guards to keep gutters dry and avoid this mosquito breeding zone.
- Collect Containers: Survey your yard for anything that holds water and can create a mosquito landing zone. Look for empty flower pots, buckets, jars, wheelbarrows and old tires. Drill holes in the bottom of trash cans and recycling buckets to allow them to drain. Check children’s toys like wading pools, sand boxes, and other surfaces that can collect water. Flush bird baths with clean water at least once a week to wash away any mosquito eggs.
- Prevent Puddles: Mosquito proof low areas in your yard where water collects. Use clean fill dirt to build up the area, and then cover with top soil and use grass seed, sod or mulch. Water puddles that last for even a few days can allow mosquitoes to hatch.
- Don’t Go There: Perhaps the simplest way to avoid mosquitoes is to stay inside at dusk and dawn. At these times, the female mosquito has a biological reaction to seek a “host” (that’s you!) from which to get blood to fertilize her eggs. By staying inside for the dawn and dusk hours, you stay off the menu.
Mosquito products that won’t work
Opinions on how well mosquito repellents and other products that claim to prevent mosquito problems work vary wildly: According to Dr. Wayne J. Crans, Associate Research Professor in Entomology at Rutger’s University, here’s what doesn’t work effectively:
- Bug Zappers: These electrocuting devices use an ultraviolet light to draw insects through an electrified grid. Zappers kill a lot of insects but very few of the insects killed are classified as pests, including mosquitoes. In fact, biting insects make up less than 1 percent of insects caught in zappers. Zapper popularity is most likely due to the never-ending sound effects, which remind owners that the units are working. The only problem is that an average night’s catch includes far more beneficial insects than those that can be trouble.
- Electronic Repellers: Hand-held, high frequency electronic devices that rely on high-frequency sound to repel mosquitoes have been touted for years as effective against mosquitoes. But, scientific studies have repeatedly shown that electronic mosquito repellers do not prevent mosquitoes from biting. Bottom line – save your money!
- Bats: From time to time, bats are promoted to rid an area of mosquitoes. While bats do eat mosquitoes, they also eat just about every other form of insects as well. As a result, bats are no more effective that bug zappers in preventing insect problems.
Mosquito infestations are a part of summer, but fortunately with a few simple steps it is easy to mosquito proof your yard and stay bite free.