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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.

Controlling Mosquitoes on Your Property

Let it be known that in my family I hold the record for number of mosquito bites at one time. While on a vacation in the coastal swamps of Georgia (yes I said 'vacation'), I racked up over 100 mosquito bites.

So what makes a person more attractive to mosquitoes than others? Here are a few things that mosquitoes find very tempting:

  • Carbon dioxide- Yes every time you exhale you draw those pesky little blood suckers closer.
  • Lactic acid- We produce lactic acid on our skin.
  • High skin temperature
  • Various colognes and perfumes
  • Dark colored clothing – Hence my ever-increasing stock in white T-shirts.
  • Warm days with low winds. Mosquitoes are pretty lousy fliers, so cool days with high winds (over 10 mph) reduce their activity. Placing a fan facing an outdoor seating area will keep them at bay.
  • Studies have also indicated that some people are just more desirable than others. Due to the complexity of factors that can play into this, researchers are unsure why exactly this is.

Avoidance is only part of the strategy. Controlling mosquito populations is another aspect to minimize bites to humans.

Breeding Sites

Only female mosquitoes bite. This is because they need a blood meal (protein) for reproduction. Once she has fed the female will search out a favorable site to lay her eggs. And anything that holds stagnant water is her target. Preventing her offspring from developing into adult mosquitoes is the most effective control. Some strategies to eliminate breeding sites are:

  • Remove any object on your property that may hold water. i.e. tin cans, toy, flower pot saucers, stagnant pools and the notorious old tire in the backyard.
  • Change water in birdbaths weekly
  • Stock garden ponds with top feeding minnows
  • Make sure covers are tight and free of holes over grills, cisterns, rain barrels, or anywhere water is stored
  • Clean your gutters. This is often the unseen area for development of mosquitoes. I find myself cleaning out our gutters in the fall and spring.
  • If you can't remove the standing water, then treat it with Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). Bti only targets mosquito and a few species of fly larvae.

Not only are clogged gutters nonfunctional, they harbor developing mosquitoes.

Controlling Adult Mosquitoes

Avoid using bug zappers to control flying adults. About 90% of insects killed with bug zappers are not mosquitoes. In fact several are beneficial insects like the brown lacewing.

Mosquito foggers work for only a short period of time and are well-suited to being used prior to an outdoor event.

Mosquitoes have been known to travel up to 40 miles, so community-wide control programs work best. Everyone has a role to play in minimizing mosquito populations.

I hope not set any more records regarding the number of mosquito bites, but what can I say, those ladies love me.

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Sending all my ladies your way, Chris. Never let it be said I stand in the way of love!
by Sandra Odell on Saturday 7/18/2015