Fight Back Against Mosquitoes - You really can have a bite-free summer

Published on Sat, 08/05/2017 - 8:15am

Everyone hates mosquitoes. They are pesky, annoying, and they can ruin a perfectly wonderful summer day or evening. But that’s just the beginning. Mosquito bites are itchy and painful. Even worse, mosquitoes spread some of the world’s deadliest and most debilitating diseases including West Nile virus, Zika virus, malaria, and dengue fever. Some experts have even called mosquitoes the most dangerous creatures on the planet. 

The good news? It’s relatively easy to reduce mosquito breeding sites on your property. There are easy-to-use mosquito controls that are deadly to mosquitoes but harmless to people, pets and wildlife. Mother Nature herself gives us some very effective ways to kill mosquitoes. 

Why do mosquitoes bite? 

A female mosquito will bite humans, mammals, and birds in search of a blood meal so she can produce eggs. She can extract up to four times her weight in blood. Immediately after biting a person or an animal, a female mosquito lays her eggs in standing water—usually only yards from where the bite occurred.  

To reduce the chances of getting mosquito bites, keep as much of your skin covered as possible by wearing long sleeves and long pants. Wear light-colored clothing because mosquitoes are attracted to darker colors. Using mosquito repellent is another good way to keep mosquitoes—and mosquito bites—at bay. Apply EPA-recommended repellent directly to skin or clothing, following the instructions on the product label.  

The next step is to reduce standing water on your property so female mosquitoes have fewer places where they can lay their eggs. 

Reduce mosquito breeding sites 

It doesn’t take much standing water to become a mosquito breeding site. “Some species of mosquitoes can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of water,” said Jonathan Cohen, mosquito control expert and President of Summit Responsible Solutions, a home and harden and pest control products manufacturer. “That’s why homeowners need to be vigilant in eliminating places where water can collect and stand in their yards and gardens.” 

To reduce mosquito breeding grounds, dispose of cans, plastic containers, old tires and other items that can collect water. Turn over wheelbarrows and empty the water in children’s wading pools. Clean clogged roof gutters, which can become prime mosquito-breeding pools. Periodically empty the saucers under ceramic pots to make sure they are not harboring mosquito larvae. 

BTI to the rescue 

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in places where water collects—including ponds, bird baths, animal watering troughs, gutters, ditches, drainage pipes and rain barrels—use a mosquito control product that contains BTI to kill mosquito larvae.  

BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae before they can grow up to become flying, biting, disease-spreading adults. Even though BTI is deadly to mosquito larvae, it is harmless to people, pets, fish, wildlife and beneficial insects. BTI is the active ingredient in Mosquito Dunks, the top-selling biological mosquito control product. When a donut-shaped Mosquito Dunk is placed in standing water, the BTI in the Dunk will kill mosquito larvae for 30 days or longer. 

In places where small amounts of water collect—such as tree holes, potted plant saucers, water reservoirs in self-watering planters, tires, and even on tarps where rain water collects, a BTI product called Mosquito Bits is a good way to kill mosquito larvae. The granules can be sprinkled into virtually any place where water can collect. Mosquito Bits granules can also be used to kill mosquito larvae in swampy areas and other areas where water cannot be drained.  In addition, these BTI granules are highly effective as a “shock treatment” in water where immediate larval control is needed due to an extremely dense population of mosquito larvae, because the Bits release their active ingredient at once.  

To kill adult mosquitoes, use a permethrin-based insecticide such as Summit Mosquito and Gnat Barrier. Permethrin kills and repels mosquitoes and other insect pests for up to four weeks. Simply attach a garden hose to the hose-end sprayer bottle and spray the yard perimeter and fences, plus the lawn and vegetation where mosquitoes can hide and rest.  

Bats love to eat mosquitoes 

Mother Nature has another effective weapon against mosquitoes and other insect pests—bats. Contrary to popular belief, native bats don’t bother humans or other animals. They’re only interested in catching dinner, and mosquitoes are on the menu. In fact, one bat can eat more than 500 mosquitoes in an hour, and a bat colony can consume more than 47,000 in a single night. 

Installing a cedar bat house is often all it takes to attract these fascinating insect-eating creatures. A bat house gives bats a place to sleep during the daytime. At dusk, they awaken and emerge to search for a meal of mosquitoes and other flying insects. 

Made of weather-resistant cedar wood, a Cedar Bat House from Lehmans.com is a simple and functional bat house, proudly handmade in Ohio. The Cedar Bat House and the resident bats it attracts are a great conversation piece that keeps the local bat population healthy and keeps the mosquitoes at bay. (The Leman’s website is also a great source for other simple products for sustainable living.)  

Keep mosquitoes away 

It’s impossible to kill every mosquito, so when you’re outdoors on your deck or patio, keeping mosquitoes away can make being outdoors more pleasant. A mosquito deterrent called a Patio Egg offers a DEET-free, natural way help deter mosquitoes and other biting insects from invading patios and other outdoor living areas. 

Just pour the natural essential oil-based solution into the decorative egg. The Patio Egg’s porous nature allows the fragrance to migrate up the sides and diffuse into the air. The pleasant floral scent (which people love but bugs hate) will cover up to 200 square feet continuously to help deter mosquitoes, biting flies, no-see-ums, gnats and other biting insects. The Patio Egg comes in a ready-to-use kit that includes a three-month supply of the essential oil, a measuring cup and natural fiber netting so you can hang it anywhere. Essential oil refills are also available at ScentShop.com.  

The last word on mosquitoes 

Sometimes mosquitoes and other insect pests can seem like a never-ending challenge to outdoor enjoyment during the hot summer months. But by reducing your exposure to mosquitoes, limiting breeding sites and using the most effective types of mosquito control products, you can greatly reduce your chances of being bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

Enjoy your summer—and pass the watermelon!