Year of the Mosquito

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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?