Natural Insect Control: Other Ways to Beat mosquitoes or other insects
We at Mosquito Guard want to provide our customers with as much information as possible for all-natural mosquito protection. Natural bug sprays or bands aren’t the only nontoxic ways that you can fight back against mosquito bites and other insects. Here are some other approaches to natural mosquito control that we recommend as an additional layer of protection – see which ones work for you and which don’t.
Mosquitoes are a real nuisance, as many of us have experienced firsthand. They’re most active at dawn and dusk, just when we might want to enjoy a sunrise or sunset. They also have specific nerve cells that detect the carbon dioxide we (and all other mammals) exhale. Just our being alive attracts them. They also can zoom in on moving objects and heat sources, so hot-blooded mammals and also birds are easy targets.
When a female mosquito lands on our bare skin, it uses its proboscis to pierce our outer defense and feed on our blood. It then injects some saliva, which acts as an anti-coagulant. This eventually causes a histamine reaction in our body as our immune system reacts to the attack. The result is a swollen, itchy, and sometimes painful red bump that can last for a week or so.
In prior years, we could put up with mosquitoes as just a nuisance and deal with a week of itching if bitten. But we now must take action to prevent mosquito bites and thereby prevent contracting a number of very serious illnesses.
Mosquitoes are a huge nuisance, but they’re a lot more than just annoying — they can also be deadly. In fact, Smithsonian magazine points out that each mosquito-borne illness kills 725,000 people, making them the most dangerous animal on earth. On farms, mosquitoes can harm livestock and other animals.
A few mosquitoes are always unpleasant, but when an infestation happens and lots of mosquitoes are suddenly flying around an area, the risks are even greater. More mosquitoes mean a higher risk of a mosquito-borne disease epidemic, and the chance for multiple bites is higher. Mosquito prevention — especially infestation prevention — is key to preventing these kinds of dangers.
Unfortunately, mosquito infestations can easily take place just about anywhere where mosquitoes live. Mosquitoes lay a lot of eggs and reproduce very quickly. A female mosquito can lay 100 to 300 eggs at a time or about 1,000 to 3,000 eggs during her lifetime (which can last up to 100 days). The eggs themselves will turn to grown mosquitoes in less than a week.
Most mosquitos will stay within one mile of where they were born, although some will fly miles away. This means that just two mosquitoes laying eggs in your unused birdfeeder can produce about 600 new adult mosquitoes in a week. If half of those are female, you can have 300 mosquitoes laying 30,000 to 90,000 eggs in a week or so after that!
What Is a Mosquito Infestation?
A mosquito infestation happens when there is a sudden increase in the number of mosquitoes — to the point that they start causing significant numbers of bites in residential areas or damage on farms. You probably don’t need to be told whether you have an infestation on your property. If you find yourself scratching bites every day or can’t step outside without having mosquitoes buzzing around you, you may have an infestation. If you live on a farm, you may notice livestock and horses affected by bites or with specific illnesses that have been transmitted by mosquitoes.
Why Do Infestations Happen?
In most cases, infestations happen during warm weather, often after heavy rains or a flood. At first, the heavy water may wash away mosquitoes and their larvae, but once some of the water dries up and becomes still, the mosquitoes have the perfect conditions for breeding. With so many new mosquitoes born, natural predators can’t get rid of all of them, and this leads to infestations.
Am I at Risk?
Mosquito infestation can happen anywhere where mosquitoes live, but your location will determine how much risk you face. Hot, damp climates are more likely to attract mosquitoes and provide the perfect breeding grounds that could pave the way for an infestation. Areas with dense bushes, grasses and trees (including park areas) can also attract mosquitoes, and infestations are more likely in areas where flooding and heavy rains take place. Coastal areas are usually fairly protected from mosquito infestations, because mosquitoes don’t do well with breezy weather and winds.
There are more than 150 types of mosquitoes in the United States. Given the right conditions, any of them can breed enough to create an infestation.
A mosquito-infested yard is more than just a nuisance — it can have a very real impact on your health. Many mosquitoes can also expose you to a number of mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile Virus and Malaria. An infestation can make it harder to avoid bites. In some cases, infestations can lead to fatalities. A severe mosquito infestation in 1982, for example, spread encephalitis across the country’s southwest region, killing two people as well as thousands of birds and dozens of horses.
Preventing a Mosquito Infestation?
Preventing a mosquito infestation starts with a comprehensive mosquito treatment plan. You should:
1) Take a look at the bugs you have.
Many insects can look like mosquitoes. Before you try mosquito removal solutions, make sure that your property actually has mosquitoes and not another type of insect entirely. Take a close look: Mosquitoes have wings with scales and long, thin bodies. They also make a distinctive whine when they fly around.
2) Zero in on your landscaping.
Mosquitoes are attracted to shady spots and lots of leafy, wet leaves. If your garden is overgrown, you’re more likely to have mosquitoes. If your yard has lots of trees or a swampy, wet area, you’re probably attracting mosquitoes. The same rule applies if you water your plants often, which leaves them wet and attractive to the insects.
You don’t have to make your yard into a concrete playground to get rid of mosquitoes, but you can keep bugs at bay by trimming hedges back and regularly mowing your lawn. Consider wide expanses of very trimmed lawns rather than lots of bushes and tall plants. If you do have a large lawn, pick up trimmings after mowing to avoid attracting pests.
Watering your property is another danger area. If you overwater or have a sprinkler system, you may be creating runoff that attracts mosquitoes. Always water your lawn or yard with a garden hose and aim only for the roots. Do not overwater and use good irrigation so that extra water doesn’t stand around.
3) Be ruthless about eliminating standing water on your property.
Standing water is public enemy number one when it comes to infestations, because mosquitoes usually lay their eggs in unmoving water. A pond or even large puddle can provide the ideal conditions to produce thousands of mosquitoes — or more — in just three to seven days. It really doesn’t take much time for an infestation to happen, especially in hot and damp climates. There are lots of places around your property that might have standing water:
- Ponds - If you want a pond on your property, install a source of flowing water.
- Debris - Even pieces of plastic or bottles can capture water after a rain shower and provide enough space for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Keep your yard free of any clutter.
- Lawn and garden ornaments - Any ornaments that have a flat or curved surface can trap water. Make sure any ornaments in your yard allow water to run off freely.
- Buckets - Store buckets upside down so they can’t collect water.
- Tarps -If you have tarps covering a car, barbecue or anything else, the tarps can collect water. Consider storing these items in your garage or the sun, where the heat will evaporate moisture. You can also shake off the tarp every few days.
- Birdbaths - Try birdbaths that have flowing water (such as a fountain) or change your birdbath water every few days. Flooded roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce hundreds of mosquitoes each season.
- Water fountains that aren't flowing - Any stagnant water can attract mosquitoes, so rinse out the fountain every few days or get it started again.
- Outside faucets - Make sure that any outdoor faucets don’t leak.
- Rain gutters - Clean out rain gutters regularly as debris can trap water.
- Leaky pipes - Fix any leaky pipes to prevent puddles.
- Old tires - Store tires in the garage or cover with a tarp that can be shaken every few days. If you have old tires (used for swings, for example) drill holes on the bottoms so water can escape.
- Rain barrels - Cover rain barrels with a fine mesh to prevent mosquitoes.
- Pet dishes - Water in outdoor pet dishes should be replaced every few days. You can also set up a pet fountain that will keep the water moving and prevent mosquitoes.
- Tree stumps and fallen trees - Fallen trees, tree holes and tree stumps can all become damp and rotten. They can also be a place where water pools and mosquito eggs can hatch. You can drill holes in the bottom of a tree hole or along the sides of a tree stump to ensure water doesn’t collect. You can also have old stumps and trees removed to discourage mosquitoes, termites and other pests.
- Puddles - Fix potholes in your yard to prevent puddles from forming.
If you see any squirming worm-like creatures in standing water near your home, these may be mosquito larvae. It only takes a few days for them to become mosquitoes that can bite you, so take action right away.
If there is a naturally occurring pond near your home or other standing water that can’t easily be removed, you can apply larvicides containing Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (Bti for short) to the water. This will kill the mosquito larvae, but it can also harm other living creatures. You’ll want to consult a professional before you try larvicide. Keep in mind, too, that you’ll need to keep applying larvicide as long as you have standing water near your home, so this can become a time-consuming and expensive process.
4) Take steps to handle infestations that come from nearby areas.
You might eliminate all the sources of standing water on your own property, but what happens if your neighbor has a big container of uncovered rainwater next to his or her gutters? What happens if you live near a park that has a bog and lots of trees? Even if you take all of the right steps for controlling the mosquito population on your property, neighboring properties may create the perfect conditions for an infestation.
If you notice a lot of mosquitoes near your property, you might want to talk to your neighbors. Let them know about the dangers of mosquitoes and tell them how they can find and get rid of mosquito breeding grounds. If it’s a bad year for mosquitoes, it might be time to get your homeowner’s association involved or call for a neighborhood meeting to discuss the problem. Working together is the best way to eradicate mosquitoes.
If you live near a park or public land that has lots of mosquito breeding grounds, you can write to your city authorities to alert them to the problem. You can write to your elected representatives, too, to let them know about the issue and the health dangers it poses to the community.
Ultimately, though, you might find that the city or some of your neighbors do not want to take steps to reduce the mosquito population. If this is the case, consider mosquito traps. Mosquito traps from Mosquito Magnet® emit a steady and constant stream of carbon dioxide, moisture, heat and other attractants. When mosquitoes fly close, thinking they might feed, a vacuum sucks them up and into a net, where they dehydrate and die. Even if you cannot get rid of all the mosquito breeding grounds on or near your property, a Mosquito Magnet® trap can drastically reduce the numbers of mosquitoes near your home.
5) Consider natural mosquito control.
There are a few ways to make your property less attractive to mosquitoes:
- Plant species that repel mosquitoes — Citronella and marigolds discourage mosquitoes. They won’t do much against an infestation, but you can plant these species and use other mosquito control measures to gain some control over your yard.
- Make your property breezy and sunny — removing wind covers and encouraging lots of sunshine in your yard creates conditions mosquitoes do not like and can help you reduce mosquitoes, especially during the day.
- Light your property with yellow incandescent outdoor lights or fluorescent outdoor lights — These are less attractive to mosquitoes.
- Encourage predators — some dragonflies, frogs, bats and birds eat mosquitoes. You can put bat houses or bird feeders in your yard to encourage them onto your property. If you’re battling an infestation, however, these animals might not eat enough to reduce the mosquito population. Experts also say that bats and birds eat a varied diet and might not eat mosquitoes if their populations aren’t huge or other food sources are nearby. Dragonflies and frogs usually live near stagnant water, so you can’t entice them into your yard without creating the conditions that’ll also attract mosquitoes.
6) Take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes themselves aren’t really the problem — their bites are. If there seem to be lots of insects near your home, you can take these steps to avoid getting bitten:
- Use mosquito nets at night
- Check your screens for rips or tears
- Use screens with all of your windows and doors
- Use repellents when going outdoors and wear long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin
- Use air conditioning indoors to keep the air moving and cool, which will discourage mosquitoes
- Avoid being outside during dawn and dusk, when most mosquitoes are active
It’s especially important to take these steps if there’s an infestation in your area or reports of mosquito-borne diseases in your community. At the same time, keep in mind that it’s a numbers game. If there is an infestation, there will be lots of mosquitoes, and your chances of bites will be much higher. Eliminate the number of mosquitoes with traps or other methods to reduce the risk of bites in the first place.