Year of the Mosquito

The spring and early summer of 2011 have seen record-setting floods in the Mississippi River basin and high rainfall amounts in much of the United States. Joseph Conlon, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association, predicts “a bumper crop” of mosquitos, because heavy rain and flooding provides them with their ideal breeding location: standing water.

Prevent/Discourage Mosquitos
To prevent mosquitos from breeding in your yard and garden—and thereby reduce the number of mosquitos pestering you—be vigilant about standing water. If you leave anything outdoors over the summer that could collect water—a wheel barrow, kiddie pool, watering can, etc.—either bring it under cover or tip it upside down when rain is predicted. When water collects in saucers under outdoor pots, promptly dump it out. Don’t neglect cleaning your home’s roof gutters; water can be trapped there by leaves and debris.

Check less obvious locations for standing water. For example, the folds and puckers of a canvas grill cover or a tarp covering a car or boat can create pockets in which water collects. Trees uprooted in severe weather can leave depressions where water pools. Fill in these divots and other ditches or depressions.

Encourage beneficial wildlife that prey on mosquitos. These include bats and birds, both of which can be welcomed with special nesting boxes; as well as frogs and dragonflies. In ornamental ponds/water gardens, you might introduce larvae-eating fish. Or add a fountain or bubbler, because mosquitos prefer still water.

Avoid Mosquitos
To avoid mosquitos, stay indoors during their most active times of day—the hours around sunrise and sunset. Wear long pants, long sleeves, knee socks under your shoes and a hat. Hats with mosquito netting are very helpful. The most effective mosquito-repelling skin sprays include DEET. Citronella-based sprays are also effective but need to be reapplied more frequently. When spraying, follow package directions and spray clothing as well as skin. Be careful using mosquito sprays on children; look for products formulated just for children, and/or ask your pediatrician for advice.

Control Mosquitos
Remove tall weeds and excessive brush to eliminate the places where adult mosquitos rest during the day.

Mosquito Dunks can be placed in standing water to kill mosquito larvae. The active ingredient, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, is a bacterium that won’t harm other creatures, including birds, fish, amphibians, pets and people. They are safe to place in ponds, birdbaths, gutters, etc. and one Mosquito Dunk will remain effective for 30 days.

For more info:

What to plant to repel mosquitos, and more tips.

Will a rain barrel encourage mosquitos?

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12 thoughts on “Year of the Mosquito

  1. Thanks for the tip on Avon’s Bug Guard. I use Burt’s Bees Farmer’s Friend Lemon Grass Insect Lotion. I works well for mosquitos and black flies. I have to resort to DEET for biting flies.

  2. almost any health food store now carries NON-DEET products that are very effective. Usually in a plant-based oil (i.e.Grapeseed) and containing shea butter, the aromatic oils of rosemary, lemongrass, cedarwood, mint, etc deter insects including ticks, for hours. Safe for kids and pets too.

    Don’t put DEET on beings you LOVE!!

  3. Thanks for these great reminders! It’s coincidental that CTG addresses the question this week since everyone’s got skeeters on their minds (or arms!). It is astonishing how many mosquitoes you can find in just a tiny bit of water in lawn furniture crevices.

  4. Garlic pellets have proved a very effective control in our hot, muggy Virginia summers — sprinkle them on the ground (we have a large garden, so do just the area around the terrace). It seems to control them for 3-4 weeks at a time. We buy them at our fabulous Nichols Hardware (subject of a documentary, ‘The Last Hardware Store’) that stocks all kinds of old-fashioned remedies. Come in 1 gal. jugs.

    • Thanks for the tip, Virginia — another good product for people to try. If they can’t be found at local hardware stores elsewhere, readers might check with the local or online farm supply or equestrian shop as these are also used to control mosquitos and gnats around horses.
      I can’t help but think, is it any coincidence that garlic repels vampires too? Dorky joke, sorry!

  5. I would like to recommend a product that is safe and highly effective to combat Mosquitoes and Knats without Deet. I have suffered with Mosquitoe and Knat bites for years that become welts that are a quarter in size and itch for literally weeks. So, I have tried many products on the market. I have found the safest and the most effective product is Avon’s “Bug Guard”. It is nothing short of fabulous! It comes in a cream and a spray. I inadvertantly ordered the spray and found that I like the spray even better than the cream and it is so safe you do not have to wash it off, it moisturizers and has a pleasant fragrance too. And the very best of all no bug bites.

    • Hi, Barbara! Thank you so much for sharing this recommendation. It sounds like a great alternative for people to try. I just looked it up and it’s part of Avon’s Skin-So-Soft line. I’ve tried their original Skin-So-Soft and it was so-so at repelling bugs, but I didn’t know they had come out with a specific “Bug Guard” version. Will give it a shot. Thanks again.

    • Hi Barbara;
      Which product are you fond of: the white packaging has “picaridin” and the green has “IR3535”. I also suffer from the welts and intense itching!

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