Mosquitoes can be a nuisance when you are trying to enjoy time outside. Not to mention, these pests are one of the most dangerous creatures in the world. Many types of mosquitoes carry diseases like the Zika virus, yellow fever and the West Nile virus that can have grave health consequences.
Mosquitoes are usually the most active during the warmer months of the year. They thrive when it is consistently at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside and in areas with standing water or moist climates. Unfortunately, Texas has one of the longest mosquito seasons in the country. Several factors can affect mosquito activity from year to year. For one, mosquito populations rise when there are warm temperatures early in the year and when it stays warm at night. Mosquito activity can also increase in years with lots of rainfall, since there is more of an opportunity for females to lay eggs.
In Texas, temperatures can stay warm far into fall and even winter months. This means that mosquito season in the state can begin as early as February and end as late as November. Truth be told, many Texans are miserable through mosquito season. There are several things you can do to try reduce the number of mosquitoes buzzing around your home and yard.
Preventing Mosquito Activity Around Your Property
One of the best ways to control mosquito populations is to make your yard less attractive for these aggravating biting insects. You can follow these steps to reduce mosquito activity and breeding sites on your property:
- Avoid overwatering your garden or lawn.
- Clean out any standing water, leaves and debris that might clog your gutters.
- Cut tall grass, trim vegetation and rake up and dispose of piles of leaves.
- Empty stagnant water from old tires, clutter, pots, toys, buckets, sandboxes, trash cans, plant saucers or any other item that might collect water.
- Change out the water in your pet’s bowl every day.
- Maintain proper chlorine levels in your hot tub or pool.
- Remove tarps that can collect water or dump out any water that collects on tarps after a rain.
- Change the water in your bird bath or other ornamental pond at least twice a week. Or, use mosquito dunks to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in these water features.
It is also wise to take proactive steps to keep mosquitoes out of your house. Mosquitoes can live and breed any place there’s water, which means that areas like the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms can be vulnerable to a mosquito infestation. Some things you can do to help control mosquitoes in your home include:
- Keeping all the doors closed, including the garage door.
- Installing screens on your windows and doors.
- Using fans or air conditioning.
- Making sure there is no excess water in areas like flower pots.
While these steps can help discourage mosquitoes from gathering in your yard or house, mosquito control is often difficult for most homeowners to handle on their own. These pests can breed in just a tablespoon of water, and they can easily come over from a neighboring yard who isn’t as vigilant about mosquito prevention measures. That is why many homeowners choose to sign up for ongoing mosquito control services instead of going through all the steps we’ve outlined above.
A pest control professional can take care of all your mosquito control needs for you, so you don’t have to deal with this ongoing hassle. They can also answer any questions you might have and help you understand your treatment and control options. They can work with you to build a pest control plan that makes the most sense for your schedule and your family’s needs.
Wondering what exactly is biting you? Here in Texas, one species of mosquito you’re likely to encounter is the Asian tiger mosquito.
What You Should Know About the Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Asian tiger mosquito (scientific name: Aedes albopictus) is one of the most common varieties of mosquito in Texas. This mosquito has a distinct appearance with a black body and white stripes, and is about a quarter of an inch long. Asian tiger mosquitoes can lay their eggs in standing, slow-moving, fresh or salty water.
This type of mosquito was first found in Texas in 1985, but has become a growing problem. Unfortunately, bites from Asian tiger mosquitoes can have serious impacts on a person’s health. When one of these mosquitoes bites a person or animal that has a virus or disease, they can pass on the illness to whoever they bite next.
Some of the diseases that Asian tiger mosquitoes can transmit include the Zika virus, yellow fever, Eastern equine encephalitis and dengue fever. These pests are also capable of transmitting dog heartworm. These infections can cause everything from headaches, fever, a rash and joint pain. For some, these infections can cause significant issues like difficulty breathing, birth defects and even death.
At one time, officials thought that people could only get these illnesses while they were traveling overseas. However, officials have now found mosquitoes in the U.S. infected with these diseases. Additionally, they have discovered cases where people in the country were infected by local transmission. This is one reason why it’s wise to prevent Asian tiger mosquitoes from nesting on your property.
Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in very small amounts of water, so it is important to remove even small amounts of calm, standing water from your yard. Asian tiger mosquitoes typically “overwinter” in warmer regions like Texas. This means that while adult mosquitoes die off during the winter, their eggs can survive the colder and drier weather. Then, they hatch when it warms up. If you don’t remove stagnant water from your property and clean out items that collect water, then a newly hatched group of mosquitoes might emerge just in time for the warm weather.
Prevention methods might also involve checking your irrigation system for leaks. You may also need to make adjustments to your drainage system. For example, you might clean out debris that has collected in roadside ditches or culverts around your home. You might also consider regrading drainage ditches on your property to help water drain more quickly.
It is also smart to cover containers and fill holes that might collect water. For example, fill in tree cavities, cover open containers with a fine wire mesh and seal cracks around your home. While this may seem like a lot of work, all these steps can help prevent other varieties of pests as well.
Beyond the Asian tiger mosquito, other types of mosquitoes that are common in and around Texas include the:
- yellow fever mosquito,
- Western encephalitis mosquito and
- southern house mosquito.
While not every type of mosquito carries diseases, these pests are so small that it’s usually hard for homeowners to figure out what kind of mosquitoes they have around their house. That’s why it’s essential to reach out to a pest control specialist for help in the ongoing battle against mosquitoes. A licensed pro can also take care of all your pest control needs for you–from treating a current infestation to helping prevent other problems in the future.
Another thing you may not know about mosquitoes is that male and female mosquitoes consume different things and for different purposes.
What Do Male Mosquitoes Eat?
Male mosquitoes do not feed on blood. Their diet consists of sugary items, like nectar from flowers. As a matter of fact, the mouth of a male mosquito isn’t even strong enough to bite through human or animal flesh. This means that they do not actually bite humans and they do not transmit disease.
Females, on the other hand, have mouths that are strong enough to pierce skin. They also eat sugars like those in nectar for energy, but they bite humans and animals because they need the protein from our blood to produce eggs. If a female mosquito is carrying a disease, a human or animal can become infected when bitten.
This is why it is wise to contact a mosquito control specialist if you suspect a mosquito infestation in or around your home. A professional can help assess the problem, help you understand pest treatment and prevention options and answer any questions you have about mosquitoes.
ABC Can Treat and Prevent Mosquito Problems
Dealing with a mosquito problem on your property can leave you and your family members annoyed and miserably itchy. Instead of scratching away at those pesky bites, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. We have a number of different products and strategies to control these pests. With ABC’s help, you can enjoy time outside again.