Growing Green: Mosquitos, Oh My!
If you’ve spent any time at all outside this summer, you are aware of the sudden mass influx of mosquitos. These pesky bugs are not only irritating, but they can also spread disease causing organisms to humans and animals. West Nile Virus is a mosquito born virus that can cause encephalitis in humans and horses. Mosquitos are also responsible for transmitting heartworm to dogs.
Here are some ways to control mosquitos around your home and yard:
- Reduce standing water that provides breeding sites. Eliminate containers such as old tires, buckets, cans and bottles that collect and hold rainwater and become good breeding sites for mosquitoes. Drain water from flower pots, bird baths, rain gutters, rain barrels, pet dishes, wading pools, livestock watering troughs, etc. at least once a week. If this is not possible, then apply a small amount of vegetable oil on the water's surface (this will suffocate any larvae in the water).
- To reduce adult populations, mow tall grass or reduce the amount of brush and other foliage in your area to reduce the resting sites for adult mosquitoes.
- For temporary relief in yards or high traffic areas, use fog treatments or surface treatments of insecticides that are labeled for that use and apply them following directions on the product label.
Avoid contact with mosquitoes:
- Use screening in your homes and pet kennels. Keep the screens in good repair and be sure that they seal around the frames of the door or window.
- Schedule outdoor activities during times when mosquitoes are not active. Mosquito are most active at dawn and dusk.
- Wear long, loose-fitting clothing to avoid mosquito bites. Use head nets when mosquitoes are very abundant.
- Use repellents in a mosquito infested location. DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluidine) is the most effective. Apply DEET to clothes or skin but only enough to lightly cover the desired areas. Do not over apply repellents! Do not treat children with a product containing more than 15% DEET. Always read product information thoroughly before using.
- Leave yard lights off when possible to avoid attracting them unnecessarily. Fluorescent or incandescent lights are more attractive to mosquitoes. Replace them with sodium lights, which are less attractive.
- Protect your pets with drugs that eliminate heartworm. Consult your veterinarian for your best options.
Natural predators of mosquitos include: bats, dragonflies, damselflies, frogs and toads and purple martins.
For more information about mosquitos, visit http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2013/06/protect-yourself-from-mosquito.html
Robin Trott is a Horticulture Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.