There are so many amazing things about summer – barbecues, pool parties and picnics, to name a few. But every year the mosquitoes buzz around, threatening to ruin our good time. Not only can mosquito bites cause unsightly itchy, red bumps, but they can also transmit serious diseases and viruses, such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika, and West Nile. Suffice it to say, you’ll want to keep them away from your home as best you can. Read on to find out the number one thing that pest control experts say attracts mosquitoes to your yard. Eliminating it will prepare you for a mosquito-free summer.
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If there’s one thing you should diligently eliminate from your garden to avoid mosquitoes, it’s standing water. “Mosquitoes are attracted to standing water because it is a stable environment where their eggs can develop and hatch,” explains Diana Ludwiczak, NYC certified bed bug and pest control inspector and founder of Doctor Sniffs Bed Bug Dogs. “The larvae need calm water to survive, so pools of still water are ideal breeding grounds.”
According to North Carolina-based pest control company Terminix Triad, they can “lay their eggs in as little as a water bottle cap.” Adult mosquitoes can also rest on still water, which means that these areas provide all the basic mosquito needs.
When you imagine standing water, you can imagine dirty puddles and wet tarps. However, pest control experts say standing water can accumulate in many other areas. “Common unexpected sources of standing water can be kiddie pools, upside-down sandbox covers, birdbaths, old tires, old or non-working gutters, garbage collection items, etc. rainwater, garden toys, toys left out in the rain, swimming pools and dips in patios or on the ground where water can collect,” says Megan Wedeco-owner of pest control company Done Right Pest Solutions.
Terminix Triad explains that another very common place where standing water collects is in clogged gutters. “When leaves and twigs are allowed to gather and clog drains, gutters and drainpipes,” it traps water, they explain. Not only does this provide mosquitoes with a pleasant, moist environment, but they like to shelter in this type of debris because it protects them from the wind.
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It sounds obvious, but regularly checking for standing water is one of the easiest ways to avoid it. “Be aware of where you put your outdoor furniture or take things when it rains,” says Wede. “You’d be surprised how many children’s toys can collect water, so cleaning up before it rains is a big tip.” For items that typically lie around (like trash can lids and grill covers), Terminix Triad suggests drilling a hole in the bottom “so water can drain out when it rains.”
Machines that move water, like a fountain for your birdbath, can help because mosquitoes don’t like to lay their eggs in moving water. Thomas Dobrinska, an Ehrlich Pest Control-certified entomologist, also suggests measures such as keeping grasses short and using oscillating fans at outdoor gatherings during mosquito season. Finally, an insecticide or natural mosquito killer with a one-week residual effect might be appropriate for areas that are not intended for children, pets, or garden birds and animals.
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If you’ve taken these steps and still have a mosquito problem, it’s time to call in the big guns. “Consult with a pest control professional who can provide precise applications, larvicides if needed, and provide feedback on how best to keep your property mosquito-free,” says Dobrinska.
Additionally, a heavy infestation may indicate a city-wide problem. “In these cases, please contact your local municipality,” advises Dobrinska. “They may have larviciding and adulticiding projects on a broader level.”