Three Steps to Outdoor Mosquito Control

Mosquito Breeding Grounds

Mosquitoes pose problems beyond the itchy bites they leave behind, since they can transmit dangerous diseases like West Nile virus. A mosquito control program on your property will help to protect your family and friends and allow you to enjoy spending time outdoors without worrying about mosquito bites. There are three main steps to reducing the mosquito population in your yard: Eliminating breeding sites, killing mosquito larvae, and treating with outdoor insecticides or repellents. Following these three steps will help to diminish your mosquito population.

Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Sources

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, where the larvae then develop in the water after they hatch. This means that any standing water in your yard can become a mosquito breeding ground, like puddles, birdbaths, flowerpots, pet dishes, toys, gutters, and more. It’s important to empty potential breeding sites as soon as they fill up with rainwater, and remove the items that aren’t necessary to leave outside, like toys and pet water bowls.

If the mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs in your yard, they can’t hatch in your yard.

Treat Water Sources

Standing water doesn’t just mean collected rainwater; you might have a nice water feature or birdbath that attracts mosquitoes. But there are products, called larvicides, which treat the water to kill eggs and larvae, so you can still enjoy the water without worrying about it becoming a hotbed of mosquito activity.

Larvicides stop the immature mosquitoes from developing into breeding adults. You can treat almost any containerized standing water with mosquito larvicides:

  • Larvicides can come in different formulations. Some contain an insect growth regulator, which prevents mosquitoes from being able to reproduce, and others contain a bacteria (bacillus thuringiensis) that inhibits proper feeding, killing the mosquitoes.
  • You might find larvicides in “dunks” (small rings of product that float on the surface of the water) or as soluble granules that dissolve in water.
  • Always make sure you’re using the right product for your situation. You might have to break the dunks into smaller pieces, depending on the size of the body/container of water you are treating.
  • These products are ONLY approved for use in containerized water sources; they CANNOT be used in puddles, ponds, flood plains, etc.
  • Always follow instructions carefully. You will have to replace or retreat with the larvicides throughout the mosquito season.

When using any pesticide, always read and follow all label directions thoroughly and carefully.

Mosquito Larva. Wikipedia Commons

Treat Your Yard

Treating your yard with an insecticide or a mosquito repellent product will give you more immediate relief of mosquitoes than the other steps, which is especially good if you want to spend more time outdoors. These treatments will drastically reduce the number of adult biting mosquitoes in your yard or property with regular and proper applications.

There are many types of products you can spray on your lawn or your property. Some are purely repellents, made of a natural substance, such as garlic, that keep mosquitoes away from the area. Other products kill the mosquitoes – on contact at the time of spraying, through residual contact, or both.

Following are some tips to keep in mind when you are treating your property for mosquitoes:

  • A professional grade product will require at least a hand pump sprayer to distribute the product properly.
  • Choose the right product for your particular situation. Take into account the size of the area, whether or not you are near a body of water with aquatic life, etc.
  • You will likely see more mosquito activity during the early morning, early evening, and sundown, since mosquitoes hide during the heat of the day.
  • Apply your product during the very early morning or evening, and do not apply during the heat of the day to avoid damaging plants. Target the undersides of leaves on ornamental plants and trees, dense brush, tall grasses, under eaves, porches, decks, and any protected, shaded areas.
  • Read all instructions carefully, especially regarding entering the treated area after a particular period of time, allowing pets in the area, etc.
  • You will have to reapply the products according to the instructions on the product’s label, likely every month or so.

When using any pesticide, always read and follow all label directions thoroughly and carefully.

UF/IFAS entomology assistant professor Nathan Burkett-Cadena found that mosquitoes bite male birds nearly twice as often as they bite females. This may help scientists understand how to stem some viruses from spreading to humans. courtesy-Roxanne-Connelly-UF-IFAS