When I meet new people and tell them my profession they usually greet me with a skeptical response. “So can you actually get rid of mosquitoes?”
How is it even possible to have any significant impact on an insect that flies? Due to the unique habits and behaviors of mosquitoes, there are very effective ways to have a significant reduction or even elimination of mosquitoes in localized areas such as your backyard.
Understanding the life of mosquitoes is the key to understanding how to control them. There are 3 main behaviors that can summarize their life:
- Mosquitoes must have water to lay their eggs in.
Without water eggs cannot form into adults and will lay dormant until water contacts them. Mosquitoes are experts in finding water sources. Customers regularly ask me, “I don’t have any water on my property, so where are they coming from?”
The answer is twofold. First, there is water somewhere on almost every property in Arkansas. It can take as little as a teaspoon of water for a mosquito egg to form into an adult. Condensation from an air conditioner, a low spot under a deck, water pooled in a small pocket on a tarp, or water pooled on a trash can lid are all examples of water sources on almost every property. These sources are easy to overlook, but mosquitoes easily find them. The second answer to the water question lies in the next key to understanding mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes live in cool, shady areas such as the undersides of leaves and dense foliage.
Even though they must have water for their eggs, mosquitoes don’t necessarily live by water sources. They just seek out water when it’s time to lay eggs. On most properties, you will find mosquitoes in areas such as leafy plants and bushes, ivy, thick brush, and even under decks.
- In a perfect environment, mosquitoes will only travel about 200-300 feet in their entire life.
This is the most surprising mosquito tidbit, but it is this habit that makes them so easy to control compared to other flying insects. Mosquitoes will stay mostly stationary and “hop” from bush to bush when they move. When we (or other animals) exhale, the mosquitoes can sense the CO2 and know there is a blood source nearby. They will feed and then go back to cover.
Effective mosquito control programs can be implemented. One option is to hire a professional mosquito control service. Professional services must be licensed by the state and use only EPA approved products. They will usually treat any water source with a larvicide to prevent mosquito larvae from growing to adults. They will also apply a product to foliage on your property where mosquitoes likely live. They will have the appropriate equipment and products to significantly reduce or eliminate the mosquito population in your lawn.
Another option is for the do-it-yourselfers. Keeping as little standing water on your property as possible will help minimize the sources for mosquito egg development.Home remedies are highly unlikely to provide any type of true mosquito control. These “remedies” may kill mosquitoes once they get in the trap, but most use some sort of concoction to attract mosquitoes into it - a counterproductive method! Attracting mosquitoes to your yard you will never solve the problem.
A better do-it-yourself remedy is the strategic use of natural mosquito repellents. Citronella plants and candles will repel mosquitoes in the immediate vicinity, but mosquitoes are especially sensitive to rosemary, peppermint, and garlic. Though these plants will not kill mosquitoes, they are very effective repellents for small areas. Planting garlic or rosemary throughout a garden or peppermint around a deck, for example, can sometimes be enough to keep mosquitoes at bay while you do your gardening or sit on your deck.
Mosquito control is critical for public health--especially with the continuous spread of mosquito-borne illnesses around the globe. Many local governments help control the general population by fogging and other means. It is up to you to take control of the mosquito population in your own personal space.
By Brad Simon, Mosquito Joe Owner