- Organic Gardening
5 tips for Eliminating Mosquitoes from your Yard
Tip #1: Eliminate Flower pots around your home.
Mosquito spraying season.
What is West Niles Virus?
According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 40,000 people have contracted West Nile Virus from mosquitoes since 1999. Over 15,000 of those people have become seriously ill. Over 1,000 people have perished.
Along with flu-like symptoms, more severe problems can develop such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Our neighboring towns have mosquito elimination programs through spraying insecticides from aircraft to rid of adult mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are a big concern.
Despite their small size, mosquitoes are a big problem. Many homeowners and public officials alike grasp at ideas trying to minimize the diseases spread by mosquitoes most often during summer months.
This year mosquitoes weren't a problem at all in our yard. What secrets had I discovered to eliminate the pesky flying biting machines that in previous years endangered humans and birds alike with their West Nile filled poisons?
Here in Northeast USA in Connecticut, despite summer being shortened to a few months due to cold climates seasons in our area, the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Connecticut joined forces to protect the safety and wellbeing of the state's residents against mosquito spread illnesses.
The foregoing agencies monitor and manage Connecticut's mosquito levels to reduce potential public health threats from the diseases mosquitoes carry.
This effort was created in 1997 by a legislative act to minimize, monitor and control the spread of encephalitis that was cycling in the wild bird population. Ironically, encephalitis does not harm birds at all. But it is possibly fatal to humans, horses, and commercial exotic fowls such as pheasants.
Encephalitis has occurred here since 1938.
In 1999, there were outbreaks of West Nile Virus in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several humans, horses, and hundreds of birds perished within just those three states. This was the first documented outbreak in this part of the world.
West Nile Virus has been around since 1937 in other countries including Africa.
West Nile Virus has the potential to cause greater and larger outbreaks than encephalitis, which is the reason for such large interest in the matter of mosquitoes in a small state with very little summer weather.
Be sure to store unused flower pots upside down to prevent water accumulation.
Flower pots near your home may harbor excess rain water, especially empty ones.
Hanging flower pots with flowers in them most likely absorb the water in the soil within the pot. However, empty planters and flower pots hanging around the outside perimeter of your home may likely collect water from summer rains. It's within the confines of these plastic buckets that mosquitoes find refuge for sparing their young.
Keep empty flower pots in a garage, shed or under a porch upside down to prevent stagnant water from aiding breeding mosquitoes.
Tip #2: Let the bats out!
A note about bat houses...
If you plan on buying or building a bat house out of raw wood, prepare to paint it with waterproof black paint to survive the elements and offer bats a place to hide from tree climbers such as the common raccoon.
Bats are natural predators of mosquitoes.
Those creepy flying fanged tooth impressions from vampire movies of old leave us with a chilling feeling after encountering one at dusk on a summer evening.
Needless to say, bats have a purpose too. They quickly eat up mosquitoes flying around.
Living on an old home farm affords luxuries such as old barns nearby. Bats love to climb up in the tallest points of attics and hang around. They wait for dusk and then fly with quick movement through the air. Often times bats are mistaken for barn swallows. Barn swallows fly in packs and move similarly with quick speed and turns.
If you don't live where the cows once roamed, bat houses can be built or bought very cheaply.
While most birds get accredited for spreading seeds of wild flowers, did you know that fruit-eating bats pollinate flowers and spread fruit seeds as well?
Bats help the environment by eliminating mosquitoes, in essence, reducing the need for costly pesticide intervention.
A bat catches insects one of two ways. Sometimes, during swift movement in flight a bat will catch an insect in its mouth. Another more common method is for the mat to use its tail to trap the insect.
Next to squirrel feeders and bird boxes, consider hanging a bat house.
Tip #3: Don't leave your outdoor faucet running.
Most homes have outdoor faucets. When running an outdoor faucet with a hose, keep in mind that there is sometimes leakage around the outside of the hose connection. As time goes by, the leakage creates puddles. A little mold or moss might even form near the outdoor water faucet.
Same holds true for running a sprinkler to water flowers, gardens or to let the children run through on a hot summer day.
Running water attracts bugs. Pooling water that remains stagnant on top of surface soil becomes nesting grounds for mosquitoes.
Tip #4: Make sure outdoor toys or other equipment do not get filled with standing water.
Standing water in yard toys.
At one time, we had a plastic turtle sandbox purchased from a thrift store with no lid. It was filled with sand and after a play date one afternoon, the sand ended up all over the yard. The turtle was empty until it rained. A few days later when the sun came out, I noticed that we had a few extra unwanted visitors including a small gardener snake and a green frog.
After scrapping the plastic sandbox, I built this custom, one-of-a-kind wooden sandbox for the backyard. At least I don't have to worry about it holding water, because there is no bottom. The play area is lined with playground mulch. When it rains, it drains through the bottom of the sand box. The key was filling it with enough sand to cover to the top of it to not wash out.
Tire swings are also big culprits for standing water.
Keep bird baths refreshed by cleansing and refilling them with clean water from your faucet.
Tip #5: Provide fresh water to your outdoor pets daily.
Did you notice a decrease in mosquitoes over the summer of 2013?
Pets need water and plenty of it!
Horse owners use buckets.
Dog owners use bowls.
Pig owners make mud holes.
Whatever your watering needs, remember to empty and freshen the water supply for your outdoor pets daily.
The last thing you want to do is inadvertently attract mosquitoes to your yard through your pets.
Other ways to eliminate mosquitoes.
Hire a pest control company.
Use Deep Woods Off repellant at home or on walks through the wilderness.
Install a bug zapper near your yard.
Use citronella candles when relaxing outdoors.
Keep the mosquitoes away while gardening.
Gardening and mosquitoes.
Being an avid gardener, it can get really buggy outdoors when picking fresh produce.
Keep all buckets and containers upside down so that they do not collect rain. Make sure watering cans are emptied after each use.
On the other hand, if your goal is to collect rain to re-use for watering your garden, be sure to keep a container lid on it once the rain has stopped falling.
When it rains, there is moisture.
The first step in eliminating unwanted pests is to locate the water source that attracts them.
It's not always something you've done to create a mosquito haven in your yard.
Nature has a way of handling this on its own through rain.
Floods, pooling water on rocks and leaves, puddles forming on the earth are all sources for mosquitoes during rain seasons. Especially if the ground is so saturated it can't compensate for any extra water, fungus start to sprout along the damp surfaces.
Mosquitoes are only doing what they know how to do. Breed and feed.
The first and most important point here is to find all water sources and empty them.