Mosquitoes can be annoying when they swarm around you in your yard. But if they actually bite you, the potential danger can be more than just an annoyance. Mosquitoes are known to carry a number of different diseases in the U.S. While most of these diseases are rarely serious, in some cases mosquito borne illnesses can cause lasting damage. In some very rare cases they are even fatal. Whether you are concerned about disease or just annoying, itchy bites, getting rid of mosquitoes in your yard is a common goal. But with so many solutions being touted, how do you find the best mosquito repellent for a yard? Here are some ideas from the professionals at Mr. Mister Mosquito Control.
Know Your Enemy
The Godfather said it best, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” Knowing how mosquitoes live, feed, and die should be the first step in mosquito control.
In the United States there are more than 150 species of mosquito. But only a small number of those species account for most of the mosquitoes you will encounter in your backyard. The most common mosquitoes in Georgia are Aedes mosquitoes, Culex mosquitoes, and Anopheles mosquitoes.
Aedes mosquitoes are most active during daylight hours. However, they also feed in the morning and evening twilight hours. Aedes mosquitoes are common in areas of tall grass, heavy brush, or forests. Homeowners with a lot of vegetation in their yards may find the Aedes mosquito a challenging pest to control. Within the U.S., Aedes mosquitoes are found exclusively in the Southern United States.
Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes have similar behavioral patterns. Both are most active in the morning and evening. Culex mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus, while Anopheles mosquitoes are known to carry heartworms. These are the mosquitoes than interrupt an evening barbecue. For humans who like to venture outside as the sun begins to set and temperatures begin to drop, the Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes can be a major pest.
Why Do Mosquitoes Bite
Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes do not “feed” off of humans. Mosquitoes feed mostly on plant nectars. In fact, male mosquitoes are exclusively herbivores and never go after humans or other mammals. If a mosquito is buzzing around your head, it is most likely a female. Females don’t take a blood meal for nutrition purposes. Instead, the blood goes into the female’s abdomen. The proteins and other components in the blood are required for a female to produce and lay her eggs.
When a mosquito bites a human, she uses her proboscis. The proboscis is a long, pointy straw like protrusion from the mosquitoes mouth. The mosquito user her proboscis to pierce the skin of her victim and to probe around for a capillary. Once she hits a capillary, the mosquito regurgitates a bit of saliva into the bite to prevent the blood from coagulating. This is the point at which disease can be spread. The saliva is also what causes the bite to itch. Once the mosquito has filled its abdomen with blood, it retracts its proboscis from its victim and flies away.
What Mosquito Repellents Don’t Work
If you are trying to find the best way to keep mosquitoes out of your yard, it pays to know what doesn’t work. Mosquito control solutions range from completely useless to almost 100% effective. So what doesn’t work?
One of the most useless forms of mosquito repellent is ultrasonic pest devices. These products are sometimes sold as electronic bug repellents. They are advertised as an environmentally friendly solution to mosquitoes and other pests. The theory is that by emitting a certain ultrasonic frequency that can interfere with the wingbeat pattern that mosquitoes use to identify mates. Unfortunately, numerous studies have shown these claims to be mostly baseless.
Another form of mosquito control that isn’t particularly useful is bug zappers. But zappers usually use light to attract bugs. While bug zappers will kill mosquitoes that come into contact with them, they do little to attract them. More often, bug zappers attract moths and other bugs that are attracted to light. Often bug zappers kill beneficial species that provide food for birds and other animals.
If you need a short term solution for a small area, there are some solutions that are helpful. In general, these solutions tend to have a limited effect, both in time and area.
One common short-term solution is citronella candles. These candles are formulated with an extract of citronella grass. When they burn, they give off an odor that is unpleasant to mosquitoes. The effect of these candles can be limited. They tend not to cover a large area and can produce an odor that some humans find annoying as well. If you want to keep mosquitoes away from a small area, such as a meal table, for a limited time, these can help. But in the long-term, citronella candles will do little to banish mosquitoes from your yard.
Another short-term solution is foggers. These release a gas or mist that is annoying to mosquitoes, but like citronella candles, they have a limited effect. They also require maintenance of the chemicals used. They tend to be less effective on windy or even breezy days, since the breeze can blow away the effective ingredient. Foggers will not expel mosquitoes from your yard and have no residual effect when they are not in use.
Long-term solutions are solutions that have a lasting effect even after the initial application. They can help to reduce the mosquito population in your yard, not just move them away for a short period. These tend to take two forms. The first type of solution is intended to prevent mosquitoes from inhabiting your yard. The second type of solution is meant to treat the mosquitoes that are already in your yard and inhibit their reproductive cycle.
When it comes to the first type, prevention, there are two major things you can do. The first thing you can do is to reduce the number of places mosquitoes have to lay their eggs. Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs. When eggs hatch, mosquito larvae spend the first part of their life in the water. Mosquitoes prefer still or stagnant water for this purpose.
Removing Standing Water
Reducing the number of places mosquitoes have to lay their eggs is as simple as hunting down and removing standing water. If you have a small water feature in your garden, such as a bird bath or a small pond, you can make it less attractive to mosquitoes by adding a fountain. Because mosquitoes prefer still water, adding a fountain to keep water moving will make the water feature a less appealing place for a mosquito to lay her eggs. If you have a larger water feature, introducing natural predators can help control mosquito populations. Fish that live in ponds or lakes will make a meal out of mosquito eggs and larvae. So adding them to your larger water feature can be an environmentally friendly way to reduce mosquito populations.
Looking around your yard for other sources of standing water is an important step in mosquito prevention. Look for water that pools on yard furniture, grills, or other structures. Also clear away piles of dead leaves, since each leaf can hold enough water for a mosquito to lay her eggs.
The second thing you can do it to keep your yard trimmed and well maintained. That can reduce areas for adult mosquitoes to hide. Many mosquitoes prefer areas of tall grass and dense foliage. Removing or reducing these areas can also reduce mosquito populations.
Mosquito Misting and Spraying Solutions
If you really want to get rid of mosquitoes on a long-term basis you will need to move beyond prevention. The main way to kill adult mosquitoes and break the reproductive cycle is to apply some form of insecticide. The most common way of introducing insecticide is with a mist or spray application.
Mr. Mister offers two main options for keeping mosquitoes out of your yard for good. The first option is our ClearZone Misting Service. A Mr. Mister Mosquito Control specialist will visit your home and apply an insecticide spray to the foliage around your property. They will also focus on common problem areas such as drains and downspouts. The spray sticks to the underside of foliage and continues to be effective for three weeks or more. The specialist will return every 21 days throughout mosquito season for a reapplication. The insecticide is non-toxic and 100% biodegradable.
The other option offered by Mr. Mister in to install an automated misting system. An automated misting system is like an installed sprinkler system. But instead of spraying water, it sprays a fine mist of insecticide at specific intervals. The mist is usually released in the morning and evening, when mosquitoes are at their peak and other beneficial bugs are less active.
If you want to keep mosquitoes away and create a mosquito free zone around your house, contact us today. We are happy to provide a free no-obligation quote and can start your service as soon as you are ready.