November 9, 2023 – Concerns about mosquito-borne disease this fall are prompting many of us to learn what to do to reduce the chances of mosquito bites in our own backyards and gardens. Fortunately, there are good ways to manage mosquitoes around your home at reasonable cost.
DESTROY OR TREAT MOSQUITO BREEDING SITES The first step in any mosquito control effort is to find and eliminate the mosquito breeding sites from your backyard. The most common biting mosquitoes in Texas, and the ones most likely to carry Zika virus, are not strong fliers. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) both tend to live and bite within 200 to 300 yards of their breeding sites.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, especially if it stands for at least 7 days. Adult mosquitoes lay their eggs near the standing water, and their young (larvae) develop in the water before emerging to bite. Because these mosquito larvae feed on bacteria and other microorganisms, the water must be stagnant and contain some organic matter such as leaves, soil, bird droppings, or grass clippings. For this reason, mosquitoes usually do not breed in running streams or maintained swimming pools; however, birdbaths, old tires, and clogged gutters make excellent mosquito breeding sites.
You can destroy many breeding sites by draining, dumping, or filling them. Dump water from buckets, flowerpot dishes, tarps, and wheelbarrows. If possible, turn over or cover them so they can’t catch more water. Fill holes or low areas with sand or gravel and seal tree holes with expanding foam. If you find standing water that cannot be easily dumped, filled, or drained, treat it with an approved mosquito insecticide (larvicide): Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (Bti) is made from bacteria that kill mosquito larvae. A small amount, in the form of compressed donuts (Fig. 2), briquettes, or granules, is effective for up to 30 days. Methoprene is an insect growth regulator applied to water as a granule or briquette. Depending on the formulation, it may last for more than 30 days. Products containing these insecticides are sold online and in many hardware stores and garden centers.
Advantages: Without breeding sites, no mosquito larvae can grow up to be adults and bite you. These products are safe to use and apply around pets. They are toxic only to aquatic insects and do not hurt fish or birds.
Limitations: You must know where the mosquitoes are breeding and you must reapply these products throughout the mosquito season.
For more information on this topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 904-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].