Controlling Mosquitoes In and Around Your House
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There is nothing more terrifying than lying in your darkened bedroom, in your comfy bed at night and hearing that familiar high-pitch squeal from a mosquito in your ear. Knowing there is a bloodthirsty mosquito lurking in the shadows of your bedroom is enough to bring anyone out of their slumber.
The lights come on and the search for the culprit begins. And who knows how many friends it may have brought along for a midnight snack?
Mosquitoes are everywhere, except Antarctica, but who wants to live there. In fact, there are nearly 3,000 different species of mosquitoes in the world. But you don’t have to live in mosquito-infested world; there are many tips and techniques for reducing the mosquito population in and around your house.
The Life Cycle of a Mosquito
If you want to reduce the mosquito population around your home, you first have to understand the life cycle of a mosquito. It is only the female mosquitoes that bite. The females need blood to develop her eggs. And the females lay a lot of eggs. She can lay anywhere form 100 to 300 eggs at a time and it only takes 7 to 10 days for these eggs to hatch into adults according to InsectHobbiest.
The female mosquito is very picky about where she lays her eggs. Most mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in stagnant water rich with decomposing organic matter. Some ideal environments include polluted streams, catch basins, and standing water from septic systems.
Other areas such as water that collects in buckets, discarded tires, clogged roof gutters, birdbaths, and roadside ditches are also ideal places for the momma mosquito to lay her eggs.
After she finds a suitable place, she lays her eggs. Some mosquito species lay their eggs directly on the water’s surface, while others leave their eggs in an area that will flood later. The eggs then hatch into an aquatic organism known as a mosquito larva. The mosquito larvas are wingless, legless and wormlike in appearance.
The larvae skirt and scurry about in the water as they shoot to the surface of the water to obtain oxygen and dive to the bottom to find food. They feed off of organic matter in the water and grow rapidly at this stage.
The larva then sheds its skin and molts becoming a pupa. The pupa lives in the water until it becomes an adult with it’s legs, wings and other adult features now intact.
Many mosquitoes are born in the wild and never come in contact with humans but instead obtain blood from animals in their habitat. The mosquitoes that breed around homes are considered “domestic species.” These mosquitoes feed off of humans and will even enter homes in search of blood.
Mosquito Species Around the Home
The most common species of mosquito found in the urban and suburban areas is the Culex pipens. This mosquito will lay her eggs any place where there is still stagnant water that contains decomposing organic matter.
Another common mosquito around the home is the Aedes triseriatus, otherwise known as the eastern tree-hole mosquito. This mosquito lays its eggs in the tree holes of a variety of trees. These tree holes provide the perfect environment since the water that accumulates in the holes becomes very stagnant from the decomposition of the wood in the rotting process.
Discarded tires that contain water and decomposing leaves simulate the tree-hole habitat therefore attracting these mosquitoes as well.
How to Reduce Breeding Sites for Mosquitoes Around the Home
You obviously can’t board up your house and never go outside to avoid mosquitoes. The best way to reduce the number of mosquitoes in and around your house is by denying them a place to breed.
- Look around your home and dispose of any tin cans, trash containers, plastic containers, ceramic pots or anything object that holds water. These can provide a nice little place for the momma mosquito to lay her eggs.
- Old tires are the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Get rid of these.
- Be sure and clean the gutters on your roof on a regular basis. These can become clogged with water and decomposing leaves, which are two of the things mosquitoes love in a breeding spot.
- Empty kiddie pools, put them away or turn them over when not in use.
- Turn over the wheelbarrow when not in use or store it away. These can catch water and become a breeding area as well.
- While you might enjoy the water garden in your yard, it is the perfect breeding place for mosquitoes. Don’t allow it to become stagnant. Aerate or stock them with fish. Adding wildlife such as frogs and fish into the environment can be beneficial because these animals eat mosquitoes.
- Change water in birdbaths, fountains and troughs weekly.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools so they don’t become attractive to mosquitoes.
- Keep ditches and streaming adjoining your property free of grass clippings, garbage, and other debris, which can obstruct the natural flow of water.
- Keep weeds and grass cut short during the summer months. Report vacant lots that are not maintained properly to city or local officials. While mosquitoes don’t breed in the weeds and grass, they do like to hide in them.
- Make sure stored boats are covered or water drains out of them completely. Store small boats upside down.
- For obvious reasons, make sure septic wastewater does not lie on the ground surface and cesspools are sealed with screened vents.
- Clean up leaves and yard debris from low-lying areas to reduce stagnant water pools.
- Make sure water does not collect in plastic and canvas tarps used outdoors to cover log piles, boats, and pools. These can hold enough water to breed mosquitoes.
What Else Can You Do?
Even if you take all the precautions to remove breeding areas for mosquitoes, they can still be lingering around. After all you can’t control what the neighbors may have on their property. There may also be ponds, swamps or lakes near you. These mosquitoes will travel up to one to two miles in quest of a blood meal.
- Another precaution you can take to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home is to make sure your windows and doors are properly screened. Also keep doors and windows shut as much as possible especially at night.
- Aerosol sprays can be used in the house but be sure to follow all precautions listed on the label of the container.
- Outdoor areas are more difficult to treat. Foliage sprays on shrubs where mosquitoes rest can be used.
- To treat bodies of water there are insecticides available for controlling larvae, but their application in either large bodies of water or small artificial breeding sites can be difficult and expensive.
- There are mosquito coils and candles and area repellents that are spread on the ground but these measures are good only for a short time.
- Introducing wildlife that consumes mosquitoes into your environment can also help reduce the mosquito population. Bats and birds, such as Purple Martins, consume mosquitoes as part of their diet. You can install nesting boxes around your property to attract these natural predators to the area.
- However, bear in mind that the feeding activity of insect-eating bats and birds may not be sufficiently selective to cause noticeable reductions in mosquito populations. Also, many of our major mosquito problems occur at night or dusk/dawn when birds are less active.
- When going outdoors you can wear long sleeved shirts and pants or put on some insect repellent to provide some protection.
- Or mosquito traps are another way to protect you from mosquitoes outdoors. These traps can attract mosquitoes in an area as large as 1.5 acres. They attract mosquitoes by emitting a plume of carbon dioxide together with other mosquito attractants such as sugary scents, lactic acid, octenol, warmth, water vapor and sounds.
- By mimicking a mammal’s scent and outputs, female mosquitoes are drawn toward the trap, where they are typically sucked into a net or holder by an electric fan where they are collected. See Mega-Catch for more information about Mosquito Traps.
- The use of bug zappers is generally an ineffective way of reducing the outdoor mosquito population. Bug zappers use an ultraviolet light as an attractant for bugs and mosquitoes. Studies indicate that mosquitoes make up only a tiny percentage of the insects captures in such traps. The majority are moths, beetles, and other harmless night flying insects.
Why Bother With the Bothersome Mosquitoes?
Obviously no one likes to be bitten by mosquitoes. However, mosquitoes can cause far more havoc than those irritating, itchy red bumps. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and dog heartworm.
Don’t let the mosquitoes control you, take control of them. Take the proper steps to reduce the mosquito population around your home so that you can have a safe and pleasant outdoor and indoor experience.