Spring is almost here, and that means lots of fun outdoor activities are about to begin. However, there’s one outdoor activity you could live without: bug swatting.
Here in Atlanta, the moist, warm weather and dense foliage are a perfect storm of mosquito breeding and habitat. In fact, the mosquitoes can get so bad that many homeowners are barely able to use their outdoor spaces. But TrustDALE thinks that’s a shame. You can do better. In fact, with some of our TrustDALE certified pest control services, you can declare your home a mosquito-free zone. But before you call out the mosquito experts, there is a lot that you can do to make your yard and your home less appealing to mosquitoes. The pros can help put the nail in the coffin, so to speak, but a lot of mosquito control is in your hands.
What’s the Problem With Mosquitoes?
Most people think that the main problem with mosquitoes is the itchy bump they leave when they bite you. However, that’s just scratching the surface (excuse our pun). In fact, mosquitoes are the most deadly animal on the planter. That’s right, for all the lions and tigers and bears out there, no single animal comes close to the number of people who die from a mosquito bite.
What is so deadly about a mosquito bite? The answer is not in the bite, but what the bite brings with it. Mosquitoes are a vector for many serious diseases around the globe, including zika, dengue fever, and malaria. Millions of people are made sick every year, and hundreds of thousands die. Many of the deaths are young children.
Mosquitoes in the United States rarely carry the most deadly diseases, but they can still make you sick. Many mosquitoes in the Southeast and throughout the country carry West Nile virus. While infection with West Nile virus is usually asymptomatic, in some cases it can cause severe neurological damage and even death. If you have pets, you should also be concerned about their safety. Mosquitoes may carry heartworms, which can be deadly for dogs if untreated. Cats fare even worse, as there are few symptoms of severe heartworm infection, and often acute illness and death is the first sign that something is wrong.
So if you want to keep you, your family, your pets, and your guests safe from mosquitoes, you will need to put in a little work around your yard.
Why Mosquitoes Bite
You may be surprised to find out that a full half of the mosquito population doesn’t bite at all. In fact, only the females bite. And when they bite, it isn’t for nourishment. Both male and female mosquitoes live on nectars and other plant-based foods. The blood that a female mosquito takes provides no nutritive value at all. So why does she bite? It’s all about the next generation.
Female mosquitoes need the proteins in blood to make their eggs. Once a mosquito has gotten enough blood, she will lay her eggs in a quiet spot where they will hatch and spend their larval stage before becoming adults. Most mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs. Larval mosquitoes hatch and spend that part of their lives in the water. While this can present a problem, it also presents an opportunity. The best way to get rid of mosquitoes is to deprive them of a place to lay their eggs.
No More Standing Water
Mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs. So if you can get rid of standing water, you can stop the spread of mosquitoes by depriving the next generation of anywhere to hatch. But that is easier said than done. Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in even a small amount of water, about as much as fits into the cap of a soda bottle. While it may not be possible to rid your yard of every last drop of water, just cutting down on standing water can make it harder for the next generation to hatch.
The first step in home mosquito control is to survey your yard for standing water. If you have any buckets, a wheelbarrow, or anything else that might collect rainwater, just turn it upside down. Next, look for trash or debris in your yard. Old tires can harbor standing water that’s perfect for egg laying. Plastic bags, old toys, and other debris can also hold plenty of standing water. Also, be sure to check any lawn furniture, toys, play structures, and other backyard belongings for standing water. A little water collected in a dip in a lawn chair can become a mosquito nursery.
If you have standing water in your yard that you want to keep, you have a few options. A birdbath, water feature, or other pool of water that you would like to keep is only a danger if the water is still. Installing a small fountain can move the water enough that mosquitoes won’t lay their eggs. If all else fails, you can apply larvicide to kill mosquito larvae that hatch in the water. Larvicide often comes in tablets that you just put in the water. The larvicide contains bacteria that kill mosquito larvae but are safe for other animals.
Maintain Your Lawn
Mosquitoes aren’t great flyers. In fact, they can hardly fly in anything more than a soft breeze. So mosquitoes like to hide out in tall grass, trees, and shrubs where they are protected from the wind. So if your yard has plenty of overgrown vegetation, you’ve unwittingly created a safe haven for mosquitoes.
Luckily, it’s not hard to make your lawn less inviting to adult mosquitoes. The first step is to cut your grass. A simple mowing to keep your grass short will prevent your lawn from becoming a mosquito hideout. If you have vegetation around your yard, cut it back and keep it neat. The same is true if your yard backs up into a wooded area. If you keep bushes and trees form extending out into your yard, mosquitoes will stay where there is cover from the wind and not venture into your yard as much.
Professional Mosquito Control
Although there is a lot you can do on your own to control mosquitoes, nothing is foolproof. The best protection from mosquitoes is to combine your own efforts with the efforts of professional pest control experts. Experts like those at Breda Pest Management will visit your home on a regular basis (usually about once a month) and apply a spray that kills mosquitoes and prevents larvae from growing. Since mosquitoes mostly hid out in the foliage around your lawn, the spray is applied to leaves and bushes, not your grassy lawn. Breda even goes the extra mile to make sure you and the other wildlife in your yard are not impacted by their spraying. They will never spray flowers during spring pollination season. And they will never spray flowering or fruit-bearing trees or any edible garden plants.
If you are ready to live mosquito free this spring and summer, check out our listing of TrustDALE certified pest control services in your area.