Whether we’re attending neighborhood barbecues, hosting parties outside, playing with our kids in the backyard or all of the above, we tend to spend more time outdoors as the weather starts to warm up. Unfortunately, warmer weather doesn’t just mean we get to spend more time with family and friends in our yards—it also means that mosquitoes are back. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of multiple mosquito bites knows that it’s an unpleasant experience. And, if you’ve recently felt attacked by these biting insects while spending time in your own yard, you’re probably looking for a solution. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for mosquito control out there, but some of these methods are more effective than others. You have likely heard of a variety of different products that claim to kill these pests, such as bug zappers, citronella candles and mosquito foggers. But, how effective are these methods? Do mosquito foggers work?
When used correctly, mosquito foggers do work for immediate mosquito relief. These devices spray “fogs” of insecticide, which float through the air and kill any adult mosquitoes caught in the cloud. This is one of the simplest and most immediate methods of mosquito control. However, this is not an effective long-lasting treatment. The fog disperses relatively quickly, and only mosquitoes actually caught in the cloud will die. That means you must be very thorough with the fogger to catch as many of the pests as you can. You’ll need to retreat your outdoor spaces on a regular basis to keep your mosquito population under control. Some homeowners use mosquito fogging before events as well.
So, what can you do? If mosquitoes are keeping you from enjoying your hard, contact a professional pest control company to get a customized strategy based on the severity of your problem. Depending on your situation, there are a variety of other techniques that might be recommended. One of the most common professional methods is mosquito misting. While misting looks similar to mosquito fogging, the products that a professional will use will be more effective than what you can typically purchase at a home improvement store. Specially formulated bait stations can lure in egg-laying females, targeting these insects at all life stages. A pest control specialist knows exactly where these tiny pests tend to hide during the day and can more effectively target adult mosquitoes, as well as nesting areas.
Larvicide is another treatment method used on mosquito breeding grounds. It is a long-term strategy that minimizes mosquito populations, generally by preventing larvae from developing into adults, instead of simply suppressing them. However, it takes time for the effect to be noticeable because this method does not target adult mosquitoes.
Another potential technique for mosquito removal is the use of bug zappers. These are devices that lure mosquitoes into their enclosure and either trap or kill them. Some simply zap the bugs with electricity on contact, killing them instantly. Others utilize carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes in so that they can be killed with insecticide.
This method of mosquito control works on a rolling basis. In other words, it keeps the general population down over time, but you need to keep the trap or zapper up for it to work. Larger properties may need multiple zappers to notice any real effect.
It’s also important to note that there are several debunked methods of mosquito control that simply don’t work, despite what you may have heard. Citronella candles, for example, have a minimal effect at best. As a matter of fact, citronella candles were found to be less effective than simply turning on a fan to blow bugs away from common outdoor spaces. And, while there are animals that eat mosquitoes that could technically serve as a means of natural pest control, these aren’t typically animals that you want near your home, and you need them in large numbers to effectively control a population.
In general, products like citronella or lemongrass are not regulated by the FDA, so there is no guarantee that your preferred “natural” repellent even contains what it says it does. Similarly, sonic repellents have no studies that show them to be successful in repelling any bugs. That’s not even the worst part, though. Some “mosquito controls” may actually attract more bugs. The traps that use carbon dioxide, for example, can attract many more mosquitoes to the area with the trap. Also, each mosquito trap can only kill so many bugs, so the result may be a net increase in bugs. Worse yet, these traps can attract and kill beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies. This is why it is so important to work with professionals who can tailor a treatment plan to fit your unique situation.
If you’ve ever dealt with any other pest problem on your property, you likely know that one of the best ways to limit pest populations is by cutting off the pest’s food source. So, you may be wondering if by limiting the amount of mosquito food sources on your property, your problem will be resolved. You know mosquitoes eat blood, but is there anything else that mosquitoes eat?
What Do Mosquitoes Eat?
When you think of mosquitoes, it’s only natural to think that they eat blood exclusively. That’s why they’re such a nuisance to humans, right? Well, there’s more involved in the mosquito diet than that. In fact, only female mosquitoes consume blood at all.
Female mosquitoes need the proteins and lipids provided by blood in order to produce eggs. The mouth of female mosquitoes is specifically adapted to pierce skin and consume blood, while male mosquitoes do not have this adaptation. Without access to blood, mosquitoes can’t produce eggs. This is why mosquitoes have adapted to find blood so efficiently.
However, when female mosquitoes are not trying to reproduce, they typically eat nectar, plant sap and aphid honeydew, and these types of food sources are all male mosquitoes will ever eat. Therefore, you can’t necessarily cut off mosquito food sources unless you uproot virtually every plant in your yard.
Fortunately, there are other, less drastic steps you can take to make yourself less susceptible to mosquito bites. However, to understand how to keep mosquitoes away, you must understand what attracts them to you in the first place.
What Attracts Mosquitoes?
If you’ve ever wondered about what attracts mosquitoes to humans, you’re not alone. Mosquitoes identify potential prey with their smell and heat-sensing organs. Mosquitoes can track us down by picking up on the carbon dioxide that we exhale and they are capable of sensing this output from more than 30 feet away. Once the mosquito gets closer to us, it will be able to find our exact location from the heat we give off. So, anything that may make you breathe more frequently or raise your body temperature could make you an easier target.
For example, those who exercise a lot will be more susceptible to getting bitten by mosquitoes because they tend to exhale more carbon dioxide. Interestingly, this also applies to pregnant women and it’s also why adults are bitten more often than children. In addition, there are some studies that show drinking beer may make people more attractive to mosquitoes, along with wearing darker colors.
Knowing this, there are some steps you can take to make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes. For one, mosquitoes tend to come out around dawn or dusk, so try to limit your activity around these times. Scientists believe that beer can be attractive to mosquitoes because when the bubbles in the beer pop open, they release carbon dioxide into the air. Therefore, during peak mosquito times, try choosing a drink that isn’t carbonated. Also, if you’re wondering, are mosquitoes attracted to perfume?, the answer is that it depends, but it is possible. We recommend avoiding anything that would make you smell sweet, as mosquitoes eat sweet foods, such as plant nectar.
Despite all of these considerations, the most effective way to prevent yourself from getting bitten is by controlling mosquito larvae.
How To Kill Mosquito Larvae
While targeting adult mosquitoes may reduce the number of pests you notice, it’s not a permanent solution. Even if you successfully remove every adult mosquito from your property, larvae are still around. Those larvae will mature into adult mosquitoes, and your problem will return. By targeting mosquito larvae, you can feel confident knowing that spending time in your yard will be enjoyable again in the near future. However, to successfully target mosquito larvae, you have to know where to find them.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, so any standing water that is usually undisturbed can be a home for these pests. Things like ponds without running water, untreated pools and long-lasting puddles are all prime mosquito territory. Some even make their way into rain barrels or birdbaths. If you have areas where standing water regularly and unintentionally gathers, cleaning those places out frequently should be a priority. Larvae fully mature in as little as a week, so that’s all the time it takes for a seemingly-innocent puddle to lead to adult mosquitoes.
There are several common mosquito breeding areas that you should be inspecting around your property if you want to limit the population. A common location for mosquito larvae are low, marshy corners of your yard. If you notice constant wetness in a certain part of your yard, bring in additional soil to level the low places.
Clogged gutters can also be an attractive place for a female mosquito to lay her eggs and the decaying leaves give mosquito larvae plenty to eat. Similarly, old tires or yard detritus can harbor puddles of water that aren’t immediately visible. Cleaning up this kind of yard waste can prevent standing water from accumulating in the first place.
If you have an untreated pond or pool, mosquitoes will flock to your property. Adding a water fountain or other source of flowing water can keep mosquito eggs from maturing in ponds. Maintaining your pool and using appropriate water treatment chemicals are also efficient ways to kill mosquito larvae in your pool.
If you cannot take these steps, there is another option for controlling mosquito larvae. Larvicide is a specific insecticide that targets immature mosquitoes. These insecticides are placed in mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae as they hatch. BTI, or Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis, is a species of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae. If you’re looking for a completely organic option that targets mosquitoes specifically, BTI pellets are a good choice.
Keep in mind that some of the most effective methods of mosquito control, including some larvicides containing BTI, are only available for purchase by pest management professionals. And, while there are products you can purchase at the store, your best route is often to contact a reliable pest control professional.
ABC Can Help You Enjoy Your Yard Again
Not only are these pests obnoxious because they leave you with itchy bites, but mosquitoes are also a health threat, as they can transmit serious diseases, such as the West Nile virus and the Zika virus. If you’re ready to take your yard back, get in touch with ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our highly-trained mosquito control professionals know where these pests hide and nest, and can implement a customized set of mosquito control measures to get results. We can help make spending time in your yard with family and friends a comfortable, worry-free experience again.