Mosquitoes are among the most persistent, widespread, and unwelcome pests. Although the classic image of mosquito habitat may be a tropical swamp, they can be found almost anywhere, even in arid locations. Flash floods in deserts can presage outbreaks of mosquitoes, and they can exist in swarms during snowmelt in high mountains where one might consider the climate to be too cold for them.
Among their many habitats is your yard.
Mosquitoes are a surefire way to ruin a lovely afternoon, keep you inside on pleasant evenings, and generally reduce your enjoyment of the outdoors. Their bites produce itchy reactions that can be maddening and become worse when scratched, and even if they didn’t bite, their buzzing and swarming are irritating on their own.
And on top of all that, they can transmit diseases that can be harmful and even fatal to humans
Mosquito control requires a combination of prevention and protection. Let’s look into those things in detail.
The Breeding Cycle
The biology and mating patterns of mosquitoes set the stage for the abundance of mosquitoes. When humans want to reproduce, it can require several attempts before success. A female mosquito, on the other hand, needs to only encounter a male once to breed.
That one encounter can allow a female to produce eggs as many as five times per summer.
On average, she will produce 100-200 eggs each time.
Now consider that all those mosquitoes buzzing around and trying to bite you are females. Start doing a little math.
Quickly, you see why natural predators can never keep up with the mosquito population and why your yard will never be free of them unless you take other measures.
Why Mosquitoes Like Yards
Mosquitoes love wet places for laying their eggs. In particular, they like standing water, which is why they tend to be worst around swamps and marshes, bogs, lakes and ponds, and slow-moving rivers.
Many yards and driveways have spots where water collects and remains after it rains. These are prime spots for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Many other lawn features are attractive to mosquitoes for breeding, though. They are places where water accumulates or where otherwise there are damp conditions favorable to mosquitoes. The following are among them:
- Pots and planters
- Overwatered soil or mulch beds
- Tree stumps
- Tarps placed over woodpiles or other objects
- Clogged or uneven gutters. These are especially troublesome because a homeowner may not notice for some time that rainwater is not draining properly.
- Children’s toys such as wagons and others that can collect water when left out
- Tires. By this, we mean not the tires on cars but old tires now in use as swings or being stored outside.
- Open trash cans, buckets, and other containers
- Portable wading pools
Many people are not going to think of all of these or recognize all of them as mosquito-friendly areas. How many people are going to think of a tree stump as a place for mosquitoes to breed? One of the benefits of contracting with a professional service is that they will go over your property and identify all of the potential trouble spots.
Harmful Consequences of Mosquitoes
The buzzing of mosquitoes is annoying but not harmful. The bites can cause itching and the sores can worsen from repeated or aggressive scratching, but the itchy swelling from bites is typically not harmful itself.
Where mosquitoes present a greater risk is through their ability to transmit disease-bearing pathogens via their bites.
For a long time in the United States, concerns about mosquito-related diseases were minimal because the main ones– malaria and yellow fever (proficient killers both)– either were problems mostly in the past or mainly occurred in underdeveloped and poor countries.
However, in more recent years, we have become aware of the presence and dangers of other diseases here in the U.S that can cause physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and death. They include all of these:
- West Nile virus (can also cause encephalitis)
- Encephalitis. This is a swelling of the brain and central nervous system, and it is quite widespread in the U.S.
- Zika virus
- Dengue fever
- Dog heartworm. Mosquitoes bite pets, too. When they do, they can transmit a parasite that reaches the heart and grows there, causing physical damage or death. They can transmit these parasites to cats and other animals as well.
Prevention and Protection on Your Own
There are relatively simple things a person can do to reduce mosquitoes’ numbers and prevent them from biting. Like most things, they have their pros and cons.
The easiest is probably to check the property for spots that retain water. When possible, close open containers, drain water, keep items indoors, or mitigate them in other ways. For example, after using the baby pool for the little one, drain it, and flip it over. Change the water in birdbaths regularly. Dump the water from that tire swing. Check those gutters and downspouts.
The cons to this are that it requires constant checking, there are places you will miss, and there may be places you cannot do anything about (like depressions in lawns and on driveways).
There is no scientific evidence backing this, but some homeowners report reduced numbers of mosquitoes from establishing natural plants such as citronella, marigolds, catnip, or rosemary. However, you may not care for those plants, or they may not grow well in your climate and soil type.
Maybe the most popular prevention tactic is the use of insect repellents. The pros are that they are pretty effective, they are fairly inexpensive, they come in a variety of applications (sprays, creams, wipes, wristbands, etc.), and they are easy to use. DEET-based repellents seem to work the best, but there are also effective options derived from lemon oil and eucalyptus. The cons are many (not all apply to every repellent): skin reactions to DEET or other chemicals, unpleasant odors, a greasy feel to the skin, the need for frequent reapplication, mosquitoes finding and biting untreated spots, and risk of harm from getting repellent in the eyes, nose, or mouth.
For people who don’t want to put things on their skin, citronella candles are one option. They can work well, but they become ineffective when it is windy.
Outdoor bug foggers and insecticides can kill on contact or keep mosquitoes away from certain spots, but they can be dangerous to use to people and plants alike. If you’re tempted to go this route with mosquitoes, it’s best to have a professional do it.
Finally, there is protective clothing such as long-sleeved pants and shirts. Pros: they cover more skin, you probably already have these items, and you can now buy clothing with pretreatments that can last several washes. Cons: it can be uncomfortable in warm weather, mosquitoes can easily bite through thin materials, and specialized clothing can be expensive.
No matter how ardently you apply the do-it-yourself methods, you are going to have mosquitoes. For that reason and also to save all the time and effort required, mosquito control is one of the most popular services clients request from lawn-care companies. The best packages can eradicate mosquitoes from a lawn for an entire season while being eco-friendly at the same time.
If you are considering going with a pro, first consider your needs.
Are you planning an event like a family reunion or an outdoor wedding? In that case, you may only want a one-time service so that your guests remember what a great time they had or how beautiful the service was, not all the mosquito bites they got.
But if you want freedom from mosquitoes all season long, then an ongoing service is the thing for you.
At Sharp Lawn Care, we will have a specialist perform an in-depth inspection of your yard and your home’s outside perimeter to identify places of concern. Then we will perform an initial treatment that will kill mosquitoes within 24 hours. For the remainder of the season, we will return monthly to reapply treatments and look for any new trouble spots, and if there happens to be an outbreak between visits, we will come out and take care of it. And when you sign up for automatic renewal, we continue each new year and you don’t have to worry about it.
To start going mosquito-free today and protect you, your family, and your pets from the annoyances and dangers posed by mosquitoes, get in touch with us for a free quote!