Posted by Brent Wilson on 10/5/2016 to Pest & Disease Control Tips
Mosquitoes can be a pain in the rear...on the legs, arms, ankles, feet and just about any area of skin that is exposed.
Successful long term mosquito control requires a knowledge of where and how they develop. All mosquitoes pass through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The number of days from egg to adult varies with species and temperature. Under ideal conditions, some mosquitoes can complete their cycle of development from egg to adult in less than a week. Some mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing bodies of water while others lay them in damp areas around the yard.
Unfortunately, there's no sure-fire method to eliminate all mosquitoes. However, there are steps you can take to prevent and or control them.
Preventing or reducing the populations of mosquitoes starts with identifying their breeding grounds...or, should we say, breeding waters, and then taking steps to eliminate these attractions.
Garden Ponds. If you have a garden pond, make sure there is constant movement on the surface of the water. Mosquitoes don't like moving water. To achieve this movement, install a waterfall or a fountain in your pond. You can also add mosquito eating fish to your garden pond.
Puddles. Identify areas in the yard where water stands for more than a day after a good rain. Fill these low-lying areas with soil or install a drainage system to improve drainage.
Containers. Identify containers or other objects in the yard that hold water after a rain. Take steps to make sure these objects will drain properly or remove them from the yard.
Gutters. Clogged gutters are one of the last places we think of as mosquito breeding grounds but are a perfect place for mosquitoes to breed. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned regularly.
Decks or Porches. If you have a wooden deck or porch that allows rain or hose water through the cracks, make sure that the area underneath these structures drains properly. Install a 6" bed of gravel and underground perforated drainage pipes if necessary to remove water from these areas.
Bird Baths. Be sure to clean and refill bird baths at least twice a week with fresh water.
Stumps. Remove old stumps or fill their cavities with soil and plant something in them!
Plastic Sheeting. Remove plastic sheeting or other refuse that collects water.
Leaking Faucets. Repair any leaking faucets or air conditioners and improve drainage in these areas.
Not all mosquito breeding sites are easy to identify and some species of mosquitoes can fly in from other areas up to several miles away. This is when control of the adults becomes necessary.
Larva Control. Mosquito larvicides are available which can be beneficial when it is difficult or impractical to eliminate a breeding site. Larvicides control immature mosquitoes before they have a chance to develop into flying and biting adults. Most larvicides contain methoprene or a toxin produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), which comes in the form of "dunks" or granules. Neither methoprene nor Bti toxin is harmful to fish, waterfowl, pets, or humans when used according to label directions.
Managing Overgrowth. During the day, mosquitoes will rest in protected sites such as on vegetation in your yard. Make sure to keep tall weeds and other unwanted vegetative growth knocked down or eliminate them altogether with herbicides and remove any other overgrowth.
Insecticidal Control. Insecticides are a quick way to get rid of mosquitoes around the yard, but are only temporary. I suggest the use of insecticides only when mosquitoes are thick and only in combination with other methods of mosquito control.
Two popular insecticides are Malathion and Permethrin.
Malathion can be sprayed directly onto bushes where mosquitoes like to rest, or used in a 5 percent solution to fog the yard. In the small amounts used for mosquito control, it poses no threat to humans or wildlife.
Permethrin is a synthetic form of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. It usually is mixed with oil or water and applied as a mist, about 1/100th of a pound per acre. Like malathion, permethrin kills mosquitoes by disrupting their central nervous systems. Not harmful to people and animals in small amounts, but it is toxic to fish and bees. So don't spray it too close to a garden pond and spray in the very early morning or late evening hours when beneficial pollinating insects are not active.
The insecticides will work for several days when applied to shrubbery or grass, but will break down over time, especially in rain. When released into the air through fog or mist, they usually are good only for a few hours before they become too dissipated to be effective.
Fans. If you are spending time outdoors on a deck, porch or other outdoor living space, strategically placed electrical fans will definitely help to keep the mosquitoes away. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and the wind generated by fans will keep them at bay.
Bug Zappers & Other Devices. Many other consumer products are available to help control or repel mosquitoes in your environment. Electrical devices, also called "bug zappers," are available however tests show that these kill a much greater percentage of non-harmful and beneficial insects than mosquitoes. Other types of mosquito traps use carbon dioxide, warmth, light, and various chemicals as attractants and claim to capture tremendous numbers of mosquitoes. Still, others claim that devices which emit high-frequency ultrasonic sound work to repel mosquitoes. There's little evidence to show that any of these often expensive devices are effective in reducing mosquito populations. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend purchasing them.
Birds. Martin birds and bats eat lots of mosquitoes a day. Install bird houses to attract them to your property.
Personal Protection. The are many mosquito repellent products that you can apply to your skin or clothing that are very effective in repelling mosquitoes. For those of you who are concerned about applying chemicals to your skin look for one of the many organic mosquito repelling products now available on the market. In our gardens we use the safe ones containing lemon eucalyptus.
Citronella Oil. Products containing citronella oil, such as citronella candles, can be quite effective at repelling mosquitoes. Also, planting plants that contain citronella, such as the lemon-scented geranium (also know as "Mosquito Plant), in or nearby your outdoor living spaces can help to repel mosquitoes. Just make sure to rub or crush a few leaves on these plants when spending time outdoors in these areas and also place a crushed leaf of a plant in your pocket.
Light Bulbs. If your outdoor areas are lit, use General Electric Yellow Bug Lights instead of incandescent white lights, which attract mosquitoes.
Last But Not Least Plants! There are many plants known to repel mosquitoes. Here's a list of some:
Lime Basil - Ocimum americanum has essential oils that can be extracted and used as a spray to repel mosquitoes. The plant itself is also an effective repellent when grown near outdoor living areas. Annual in all zones
Bee Balm - Monarda attracts hummingbirds however is also effective to repel mosquitoes when the fragrant leaves are crushed. Look for mildew resistant varieties. Hardy in USDA Zones 4a-9b
Cadaga Tree - Eucalyptus torelliana repel mosquitoes in the area wherever it is growing. Hardy in USDA Zones 9a-11
Catmint - Nepeta faassenii is a very effective mosquito repellent. Cut off the flowers and boil them to make a solution that can be used as a spray. It actually works better than mosquito repellents on the market. 'Walker's Low' is my favorite variety. Hardy in USDA Zones 3a-8b
Catnip - Nepeta cataria was found in a recent study to be 10 times stronger than DEET. It is a good non-toxic alternative to traditional chemical sprays. Hardy in USDA Zones 3a-9b
Arborvitae - Thuja species produce a "cedar" oil that is found in many repellent products on the market. There are many attractive cultivars available at nurseries. Hardy in USDA Zones ranging from 3a-8b
Citronella Grass - Cymbopogon nardus is releases mosquito repelling oils when the leaves are crushed. This oil can be placed directly on the skin or mixed with other oils to make repellents. Hardy in USDA Zones 10a-11
Clove - Syzygium aromaticum can be planted around outdoor living areas to repel mosquitoes. The oil can also be used in homemade repellents. Hardy in USDA Zones 10b-11
Floss Flower - Ageratum conyzoides secretes a substance called Coumarin, which is used extensively in the manufacture of mosquito repellents. Annual in all zones
Garlic - Allium sativum produces bulbs that can cut cut up and sprinkled around your outdoor living areas to repel mosquitoes. Garlic can also be mixed with other natural aromatic oils in order to create a mosquito repelling body spray. Annual in all zones
Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia can be planted near outdoor living areas to repel mosquitoes. Lavender oil can be applied to skin as a mosquito repellent. Hardy in USDA Zones: 5a-9b
Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis is a mint family herb that has many culinary uses, however also works as a mosquito repellent. Crush a few leaves and rub the oil on your skin before venturing out into mosquito infested areas. You'll smell like a sweet lemon! Hardy in USDA 4a-9b
Lemon Grass - Cymbopogon citrates is a ornamental grass which contains citronella, a natural oil that repels mosquitoes. Lemon grass is used in Southeast Asia to flavor things such as chicken. Its wonderful aroma is often used in perfumes and other toiletries. Hardy in USDA ZOnes 9b-11
Lemon Scented Geranium - Pelargonium crispum emits a strong lemony scent when the leaves are crushed. Spread the crushed leaves around your outdoor living area to repel mosquitoes. Hardy in USDA Zones 9b-11
Lemon Thyme - Thymus citriodorus has a citrusy smell mosquitoes hate. Crush a few parts of this plant and rub on the body to keep mosquitoes away. Make sure that your skin can tolerate the oil before applying to larger areas of the body. Hardy in USDA Zones 3b-11
Lemon Verbena - Aloysia triphylla has a freshg lemon scent that repels mosquitoes. The oil from the plant can be applied to the skin. Hardy in USDA Zones 8a-10b
Mexican Mint Marigold - Tagetes lucida produces a scent that is not only offensive to most humans but to mosquitoes as well. Simply plant it around outdoor living areas to ward off mosquitoes. Hardy in USDA Zones 8a-11
Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus cinerea produces a natural oil that repels many insects such as mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, stable flies and more. Formulas are made to be gentle to the skin. Hardy in USDA Zones 8b-11
Nodding Onion - Allium cernuum produces a juice that is highly proficient in repelling mosquitoes and can be directly applied on to the skin. The allium cernuum is not an irritant and is not known for any sort of reaction. Hardy in USDA Zones 3a-9b
Mint - Mentha is a perennial herb usually used to flavor tea. All species contain aromatic properties that repel mosquitoes. You can also make your own repellent with the oil from leaves. Hardy in USDA Zones ranging from 4a-11
Pitcher Plant – Nepenthes alata is a carnivorous tropical plant that actually eats mosquitoes and other insects! Most folks grow this one in hanging baskets or pots elevated above the ground. Annual in all zones
Wormwood - Artemisia is a perennial herb that can be planted around outdoor living areas to repel mosquitoes. Crush the leaves up and distribute them around your outdoor living areas. 'Powis Castle' Artemisia is a personal favorite of mine. Hardy in USDA Zones 5b-9b
Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis is an evergreen perennial shrub that does a good job repelling mosquitoes. It can also be mixed into various formulas and lotions to act as a mosquito repellent for the body. 'Salem' and 'Arp' are a couple personal favorites. Hardy in USDA Zones 8a-11
Snowbrush - Ceonothus velutinus is spreading evergreen shrub you plant around outdoor living areas to keep mosquitoes away. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-10
Sweet-fern - Comptonia peregrina leaves can be thrown into a fire to keep mosquitoes out of the area or used as an essential oil spray. Hardy in USDA Zones 3a-7b
Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare is an exceptionally hardy perennial that is a very effective natural mosquito and fly repellent in your yard. It can also be used in essential oil bug repellents. 'Isla Gold' is an exceptionally attractive variety. Hardy in USDA Zones 3a-9b
Tea Tree - Melaleuca alterifolia has long been used to make Tea Tree oil used on our animals or ourselves as an anti-fungal or antibacterial medicine. The scent is too strong for any bugs to get near, and it also does wonders on bug bites. from bugs or the environment. Hardy in USDA Zones 8b-11
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