Mosquito Control Around the Home


Ag Biz News Column
By: Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent–Ag/NR
Smith County

 Mosquito Control around the Home

Mosquitos can be a real pain in the neck.  Mosquitoes are irritating and annoying to say the least.  The bigger problem is they can transmit disease causing organisms to both humans and animals.

Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and filariasis.  Mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting heart worms in dogs.   There are vaccines for horses for West Nile and some other mosquito borne illnesses.  Currently there is no West Nile vaccine for humans.

Mosquitoes have four distinct stages during their life cycle.  These four life cycles are the egg stage, larva stage, pupa stage, and adult stage.  Mosquitoes can complete their life cycle in as little as 10 days depending on the food availability, weather conditions, and species of mosquito.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs on the surface of water or in dry locations in areas known to flood.  The larvae are also referred to as “wigglers” that live in the water.  Most larvae of mosquitoes feed on microscopic plant, animals, and organic debris suspended in the water.

Male adult mosquitoes feed on nectar, plant juices, and other sources of liquid carbohydrates.  Female mosquitoes feed on nectar, plant sap, and other sources of carbohydrates but she needs a supply of blood meal as a source of protein before she can produce eggs.  Some mosquitoes seldom travel more than 200 yards from the breeding sites; other species may travel more than a mile.  Traveling these distances makes control more difficult.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest management approach of effective and environmentally sound practices to reduce a pest population using a number of common-sense practices.  IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides.  IPM may include biological controls, mechanical controls, cultural controls, and chemical controls to reduce a pest population.

To reduce mosquito populations around the home here are some tips for the homeowner.  Eliminate breeding sites for the larvae.  This can be done by reducing standing water such as old tires, buckets, cans and bottles to collect and hold rainwater.  Fill holes or depressions and repair leaky pipes or outside faucets.  Mow tall grass and reduce tall brush and other foliage as this provides areas for mosquito resting sites.  Treating areas around the home with approved insecticides may also offer some relief from mosquitoes.  When using insecticides for mosquito control, read and follow all label recommendations.

It is encouraged to avoid outdoor activities at dusk or dawn.  For outdoor activities during dusk or dawn, wear long, loose-fitting clothing to avoid mosquito bites and use insect repellents.  Repellents can be effective and it is recommended to use products containing DEET.  Citronella candles and foggers offer some short-term relief.  In areas of standing water, products that can be added to water bodies that include the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis or methoprene can help control or eliminate larvae in these water sources.

To achieve effective control of mosquitoes several management techniques may be needed.  It is encouraged to follow the above mentioned practices to prevent mosquitoes around your home and while you are enjoying outdoor activities.  Mosquitoes can remain active until our first hard freeze of the year.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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