8 ways to control mosquito numbers in your yard

June 23, 2015

With the arrival of summer also comes mosquitoes. Not only are they biting pests, the could potentially carry the West Nile virus. Here are eight ways to help reduce mosquito numbers in your yard for an itch-free summer.

8 ways to control mosquito numbers in your yard

What mosquitoes need to thrive

Mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae all need water. Only the biting adult is non-aquatic. What's more, only female mosquitoes inflict their itchy bite. For that reason by eliminating all sources of standing water near your house, you'll reduce the number of young mosquitoes that can develop into biting adults.

1. Repair, remove or cover

To get rid of sources of standing water in your yard (or nearby):

  • Fix or get rid of any receptacle that holds stagnant water, such as a gutter that doesn't drain properly, empty flower pots and even old tires.
  • Cover any receptacles that hold water permanently, including wells and cisterns.

Any place where water can accumulate is an invitation for female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

2. Drain tree trunks

Remove water that pools in the holes of large tree trunks – a perfect mosquito breeding ground.

  • An alternative way to control mosquito numbers is to coat the water's surface with a small amount of vegetable oil to smother any developing larvae. They have tiny snorkel-like parts on their head that they use to breathe air via the surface. A coating of vegetable oil serves as a physical barrier.

3. Cover rain barrels

Although collecting rain water is environmentally friendly, it gives mosquitoes a breeding ground. To avoid this:

  • Cover rain barrels and other water receptacles with lids. Adult mosquitoes will have no way to reach, and lay their eggs on, the water's surface.
  • Attach a fine-mesh screen (about 14 to 18 wires per 2.5 cm) to a removable frame that's sized to securely fit the container opening. The mesh allows rainwater to pass through, but mosquitoes won't be able to reach the surface to breed.

4. Get some dunks

A special strain of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti), which is lethal to mosquito larvae but not people or other animals, is sold as little briquets or "dunks".  They can be placed in any container of still water.

  • Bti is a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil. Most stores that sell pond supplies sell these briquets.
  • You can even place small pieces in a birdbath, but don't worry. Bti won't hurt the birds.

5. Dump the eggs

Don't let water sit too long in the saucers under potted plants after rain or watering

  • Adult mosquitoes may lay eggs there and mosquito larvae need only 15 to 30 ml of water to grow into adults.

6. Stock your pond

If you have a small pond, goldfish can be the perfect allies in the war against mosquitoes.

  • A yard that includes a garden pond stocked with goldfish often has fewer mosquitoes than yards with no water at all. Although the pond works as a natural breeding ground for mosquitoes, goldfish love eating them!

7. Use a fan

Simple but effective is to use a fan when sitting on your deck or patio after dark.

  • Mosquitoes are weak fliers and often can't make it to your skin if you're surrounded by fast-moving air.

8. Make homemade repellents

There are plenty of homemade repellents that people believe work.

  • To help keep mosquitoes from biting you, try a mixture of essential oils diluted with baby oil.

These homemade repellents may often be effective for a short time, although they're not nearly as long lasting as a repellent which contains DEET.

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