Mosquitoes detract from any summer hangout—they’re annoying, distracting, and even present health threats. Read on to learn:
A simple maxim when it comes to pest control is that when you create a habitat that fits a species of insect, that species will be drawn in. Here are some simple ways your yard might be creating a habitat for mosquitoes, attracting them to the space:
Mosquitoes need stagnant and shallow water to lay their eggs and are even capable of laying them in very damp soil. So any water in your yard—whether it’s pooled in flower pot bases, upside-down frisbees, tires, dirty bird baths, wheelbarrows, or clogged rain gutters—provides suitable breeding locations for mosquitoes. This is especially true when water stands for more than a week.
After big rains, leaf litter and grass clippings can prevent water from draining from your yard, resulting in pools and damp soil where mosquitoes can breed. These pests can also shelter from the hot sun by hiding in this debris during the day.
Dry heat and open breeze are the enemies of mosquitoes. That’s why they like to spend the middle of the day hanging out in deep grass, shrubbery, or foliage. These humid environments, protected from the wind, allow them to rest and wait during the day until the cool evening when they can go hunting.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 we exhale, our body odor, the heat and moisture we give off, and visual cues. These buzzing bloodsuckers can pick up your smell from as far as 160 feet away, so any mosquitoes in the nearby neighborhood might be headed your way!
When a mosquito bites you, a few things happen. They use their needle-like mouth to pierce your skin, simultaneously injecting saliva with an anticoagulant that keeps your blood from clotting so it flows freely as the insect sucks. Most humans react to mosquito saliva as an allergen, so the bites swell and get itchy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some recommendations to reduce the itchiness of a skeeter bite.
- Wash the bitten area with soap and water.
- Hold an ice pack over the bite. This will reduce swelling, as well as itchiness (the hotter and sweatier you are, the itchier the bite will be).
- Use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
- Put a baking-soda-and-water paste over the bites.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a small amount of water so it looks like toothpaste.
- Spread the paste over your bite.
- Wait 10 minutes.
- Wash off the paste
It’s worth noting that, although all you want to do is scratch a mosquito bite, scratching makes bites itchier and opens up the possibility of infection. In general, the less you irritate a bite, the sooner it will heal.
The reaction that most people have to mosquito bites doesn’t actually pose much of a risk. Some people can have intense allergic reactions that result in hives, fever, and even swollen lymph nodes, but this is rare.
The real danger of their bites is that they spread disease. Mosquito-borne diseases that have been found in Texas include:
- Zika Virus
- West Nile Virus
- Dengue Virus
- Chikungunya Virus
- And more!
In some cases, a person can get one of these diseases and have no symptoms. In other cases, symptoms are relatively mild, ranging from low-grade fever to headache, diarrhea, and vomiting. In the most extreme cases, mosquito-borne diseases can lead to blindness, paralysis, or death.
You can practice mosquito prevention methods pretty easily by making simple changes to your yard-maintenance habits. Here are steps you can take to make your yard less appealing to the pests.
Remove Standing Water
As far as mosquito prevention goes, eliminating stagnant water in your yard will yield the most bang for your buck.
- Dump out any receptacles (pots, bowls, yard toys) that can collect water.
- Ensure rain gutters aren’t clogged so they drain properly. This is a big one, and often overlooked (or should we say underlooked) because it’s a bit of an ordeal to check your gutters. Pooled water in clogged gutters is an absolute jackpot for mosquitoes.
- Fill tree stumps with dirt or wood chips so they don’t collect water.
- Fill depressions in your lawn where water pools with dirt.
- Cover trash cans and rain barrels so the pests can’t access them.
- Keep tools like wheelbarrows leaning against the house or a shed so they can’t collect water.
- Change birth bath water on a weekly basis.
Remove Yard Debris
Keeping leaf litter and grass clippings to a minimum will prevent them from holding water, as well as remove shelter where mosquitoes can hide in the heat of the day.
Trim Shrubs, Foliage, and Grass
If you can minimize the places the insects can hide in your yard, it will help keep the critters away from your home. If possible, cut your grass close to the ground, cut back tree and bush foliage around your yard, etc. In a nutshell, a neat and trim yard is less appealing to mosquitoes than an overgrown one.
Burn Candles While Outside
An easy way to repel mosquitoes while spending time outside is by lighting candles or using essential oil diffusers with scents such as lavender, citronella, lemon, eucalyptus, lemongrass, clove, tea tree, and peppermint.
If you’ve done all of the above prevention steps and mosquitoes are still present, the next step is actively targeting living insects with chemicals.
Kill Larvae and Mosquitoes
You can use larvicides purchased at the hardware store to treat larger bodies of water that you can’t dump out or replace regularly. This doesn’t include pools—because they are chlorinated and filtered, they are already inhospitable to mosquitoes.
You can also use adulticides to kill grown mosquitoes, spraying foliage and shaded areas, such as under patio furniture or under the porch.
(Note: Be very careful following the product instructions so you don’t harm yourself or the larger ecosystem around your home.)
Call in the Professionals
Doing your own mosquito control requires extensive research, so if you’d rather get the job done without investing all the time and effort, call the professionals at Aggieland Green! Mosquito control technicians undergo specialized training so that they can remove mosquitoes efficiently, thoroughly, and in a way that’s safe for you, your family, and the environment.