Find out what works and what doesn’t based on the latest research.
It’s time to get outside and plant flowers, tend your vegetable garden, and eat dinner on the patio in the spring and summer. But what isn’t so enjoyable? Mosquitoes. In addition to irritating and painful bites, mosquitoes carry diseases like West Nile virus, encephalitis, and canine heartworm, which can be transmitted to humans and animals. Elmer W. Gray, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, says, “Mosquitoes are everywhere, from salt marshes to woodlands.” In order for mosquito eggs to hatch, they must be in a place where there is a source of standing water.
Instead of making our own mosquito traps, we asked an expert for advice on how to get rid of the obnoxious bugs. “The most effective and cost-efficient way to reduce their population is what we call IPM, or integrated pest management,” says Gray. “Our primary goal is to keep mosquitoes at bay. “You will not get rid of them,” he said. These little survivors have been around for millions of years and number over 3,000 different species around the world.
If you want to reduce mosquito populations in your backyard, here’s what you should do:
Get rid of the water that’s sitting around.
Getting rid of these pests is the first step. Reduction of larval habitat is a fancy way of saying “hit them where they lay their eggs”. You may have heard that mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little as a bottlecap of water, but this is not true. In reality, the problem population in your back yard isn’t coming from a bottle cap but rather from a more substantial source in your yard,” says Gray, a landscape architect and author. For example, look for places like buckets and tarps that droop and collect water from kids’ toys or kiddie pools.
Make sure to clean your gutters and downspouts on a regular basis. Fix leaky outdoor faucets and eliminate low spots in the yard where water can collect. Fill in tree holes, which some species use to lay their eggs.
Don’t forget to remove the saucers under your potted plants after watering and rain, or don’t use them at all if you don’t want mosquitoes to breed there. Water bowls for pets should be checked daily to ensure that they are not running low. Every few days, empty the birdbaths and refill them with fresh water. Screening or a lid must be used to protect rain barrels from leaks.
Use mosquito dunks instead.
The bottom of self-watering containers, low areas of your yard, and rain barrels are all places where water can’t be eliminated. BTi, a bacterium found in mosquito dunks, can be added to the water in these situations. The larval stage of mosquitoes is killed by this naturally occurring insecticide, which is available in dunks or pellets. It’s not harmful to butterflies, bees, fish, frogs, or any other species, but mosquitoes and black files are. Even children and dogs are unaffected by it, says Elmer. Do as instructed and you’ll need to keep using it for a few weeks to get the best results.
Maintain a neat and tidy landscape.
In the heat of the day, mosquitoes use high grass as a place to rest and cool off, says Gray. To prevent this, keep it trimmed around the areas where you sit and play. Putting up bat boxes or martin houses to attract these natural mosquito predators is fine, but no research has shown that doing so reduces populations because mosquitoes are only a small part of their diet.
It’s unclear if homemade mosquito traps are effective.
Making a homemade mosquito trap with soda bottles, yeast, and other household items is a popular trend on social media. Most are based on the premise that human exhaled CO2 attracts mosquitoes, but there is no evidence that these traps reduce mosquito populations. Mosquitoes can be tracked by scientists using a variety of traps that use different kinds of lures, Gray explains. They can also be tested for disease. “They’re good for surveillance, but not for controlling mosquitoes,” says the expert.
Mosquitoes can be caught using a fan and netting in other DIY traps. There aren’t many moths or other night-flying insects caught, according to Michael Skvarla, Ph.D., assistant research professor of arthropod identification at Penn State University. As it stands, there is no scientific evidence that DIY traps can reduce mosquito populations.
Ineffectiveness of commercially available mosquito traps.
Although commercial traps exist, their effectiveness is limited at best. In order to kill mosquitoes, these products claim to use a combination of C02 released by yeast fermentation and a high-salt solution that causes the mosquitoes’ guts to rupture. There is absolutely no truth to any of this. Mosquitoes cannot get into the traps because the holes are too small. No biological reason or evidence exists that the salt water solution would kill them, even if they could get in. Traps, on the other hand, have a long way to go, according to other studies.
Mosquitoes can be deterred by using repellents.
Claims made by Skvarla, a researcher in the field of mosquito-repellent technology, are based on a lack of evidence. What do you think is the best course of action? Permethrin-treated clothing, spray-on repellents like DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus, and light, loose-fitting clothing (they’re drawn to dark colours). A wearable device containing metofluthrin, which has been shown to reduce the number of bites, is another option.
To keep mosquitoes at bay, set up a box fan in your room.
Using this simple, low-tech technique, you can avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Using an inexpensive box fan on high will keep them out of the area where you’re sitting or entertaining when you’re outside, suggests Gray. At the very least, the strong winds will divert them from their intended dinner location, since they dislike flying in strong winds.
Using yard foggers to kill mosquitoes is acceptable, or is it not?
Foggers do their job, but they also kill beneficial insects like pollinators, according to Gray. Your yard can be treated by commercial pest control companies as well, particularly shrubs and other places where mosquitoes like to hang out. Inquire about their pollinator protection methods and their efforts to keep other insects safe. Pollinators, like honey bees, should be returned to their hives at night, so that commercial treatments can take place.