We’ve had an unusually warm autumn here in Georgia. That means more days for barbecuing, swimming, and just enjoying your outdoor spaces. But it also means an extended mosquito season. Mosquitoes can breed as long as the temperature peaks over 50 degrees for a few days straight. With our weather this fall, mosquitoes are still breeding. They’re reproducing almost as fast as they do in the summer at the peak of mosquito season. Some mosquito control companies, like Mr. Mister, a TrustDALE certified business, are offering extra treatments late in the season. Since we are still seeing mosquitoes, the TrustDALE and the professionals at Mr. Mister want to give you a refresher on how to avoid mosquitoes. It’s not too late to protect against mosquitoes.
Fight the Source
Mosquitoes breed quickly, so no matter how many adults you kill, there will always be a fresh crop of juvenile mosquitoes just waiting to take their place. There are some techniques available for killing mosquitoes. However, for real mosquito control, you need to go to the source. Attacking mosquitoes at the breeding site reduces the number of mosquitoes in the next generation. Generations of mosquitoes don’t last that long. So if you keep killing mosquito larvae, you can disrupt the reproductive cycle. As time goes on and fewer larvae survive to produce a new generation, and you get many times fewer mosquitoes.
The most significant factor in disrupting mosquito breeding habits is the eradicating standing water. Although there is some evidence that mosquitoes can breed outside of water, most observation points to standing water as the favorite spot for mosquitoes to lay their young. The reproductive cycle starts with adult female mosquitoes. A female mosquito will take a blood meal from her target. The blood doesn’t actually provide any nutritional value to the mosquito. Instead, the proteins in the blood are necessary for the formation of her eggs. Once she finds a suitable spot, the female lays hundreds of eggs at a time. Typically, the ideal spot is nothing more than a small (or not so small) area of standing water. Once the eggs hatch, the baby mosquitoes spend their entire larval stage in the water.
Target Standing Water
Mosquito larvae can hatch and mature in a very small amount of water. A small pool of water no larger than a bottle cap can be a home to a swarm of mosquito larvae. This makes it difficult to eradicate standing water completely. However, even just reducing the amount of standing water in your yard can help reduce the mosquito population significantly.
The first place to look for standing water is any kind of container in your yard. If your yard has any buckets, wheelbarrows, paint cans, or even dog dishes, make sure that they are turned upside down when not in use. This will prevent rainwater from accumulating in them and providing a hatchery for the local mosquito population. Another place to look for water is in lawn furniture, play structures, toys, and any lawn ornaments or features that might collect some water. One area where water can accumulate that most homeowners don’t think of is in a pile of leaves. Each leaf in a pile of leaves has the potential to hold enough water to host mosquito larvae. This time of year, when many homeowners are raking up piles of falling leaves, it is especially important to eliminate this source of standing water. After raking leaves, make sure that they are properly disposed of in a yard waste bag, compost bin, or another container that prevents them from holding water.
Clean Up Your Yard
Trash around a yard is also a welcoming space for mosquito larvae. If you have old car parts, broken toys, construction debris, or any other trash in your yard, this is your chance to clean up. Refuse and used or broken items in your yard almost certainly accumulate some water when it rains. That water can become a perfect home for mosquito larvae. Tires are especially prone to standing water. If you have old tires, move them to an area where they will be completely out of the rain. If you have a tire swing, you can drill holes in the bottom part of the tire to allow water to drain.
Even if your yard is free of trash, an unkempt yard can provide valuable cover for adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are pretty poor flyers and prefer to stay close to the ground in tall grass or thick bushes to avoid wind gusts. The more overgrown your yard is, the more opportunity you provide for mosquitoes to hide out. Keeping your lawn mowed and your bushes trimmed doesn’t just look nice. It can also force your adult mosquito population to look elsewhere for cover. That’s one natural way to move mosquitoes out of your yard.
Eliminate Winter Shelter
We generally don’t think of winter as a season for mosquitoes. It is true that very few mosquitoes are active during the coldest months of the year. However, mosquitoes don’t just vanish. Instead, they overwinter in sheltered locations, only to reappear next spring.
Some species of adult mosquitoes overwinter in small holes on logs or other protected areas. Typically it is the female adult mosquitoes that hibernate. In late fall, the female mosquitoes are fertilized for the last time of the season. When the weather drops consistently below 50º, the fertilized females find a warm shelter and go into hibernation. In the spring, when the weather rises above 50º for several days in a row, the female’s emerge, take a blood meal, and promptly lay their eggs, marking the start of mosquito season. Piles of leaves, trash, or tires can all provide the shelter that female mosquitoes need to survive the winter. Reducing these types of shelter in your yard will force the females to look elsewhere. Then, when the mosquitoes leave hibernation in the spring, they won’t be in your yard.
Another method for surviving the winter is laying eggs that go into a state of suspended animation. The last batch of eggs laid during mosquito season does not immediately hatch. Instead, as the weather drops the eggs go into a state called diapause. In this state, maturation is halted until conditions are more favorable. In the spring, once that magic temperature of 50º or more returns, the eggs exit diapause and hatch into larvae. Those larvae quickly mature into adults and become the first swarm of the new season. Eliminating standing water will prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs before winter. Even after mosquito season has ended, clearing standing water can eliminate eggs that have already been deposited.
Get Help Eliminating Mosquitoes
Reducing the amount of standing water and mosquito sheltering sites can go a long way toward reducing the mosquito population. However, it is nearly impossible to eliminate all standing water or shelter. That means that while mosquito populations can be controlled and kept to a minimum, you will still have some active mosquitoes.
If you want your property to be completely free of mosquitoes, you will need professional help. The mosquito experts at Mr. Mister have two main methods of dealing with mosquitoes. The first is their ClearZone™ Misting service. With this service, a Mr. Mister technician will visit your property approximately every three weeks, weather permitting. The technician will spray a special, non-toxic solution on plants and other areas that harbor mosquitoes. The plant is non-toxic to humans, pets, and other wildlife but deadly to mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. The solution sticks to the underside of bushes and foliage, continuing to work long after the technician leaves. This service is so effective that Mr. Mister guarantees you will be mosquito-free or they will come back and spray again. If you see any mosquitoes before your next regularly-scheduled application, Mr. Mister will come back and spray for free.
The other method of mosquito elimination is to install an automated mosquito misting system. This system is similar to a sprinkler system, only it doesn’t spray water. Instead, this system will automatically spray a fine mist of mosquito-killing solution. The periodic application is precisely controlled with a timer so that it occurs when mosquitoes are most active, and other bugs are least active.
If you have a mosquito problem, contact Mr. Mister for a free quote. They have undergone TrustDALE’s 7-point investigative review process and stand by Dales Make-it-Right Guarantee™. With Mr. Mister, your property can be mosquito-free all season long.