Tips and Tricks to Protect Your Home From Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can be a tremendous nuisance and easily ruin the great outdoors. Plus, they can also be potentially dangerous to your health. Mosquitoes carry viruses like Zika, Malaria, and/or West Nile virus depending on where you live. I personally live near the coast in Texas and with all the rain we can get, mosquitoes can quickly take over the neighborhood.
Below are various tips and tricks to keep them at bay.
Stopping Mosquitoes Before They Start
Mosquitoes need water to breed and spend their first weeks in the water during their larval and pupal stages once they hatch from eggs. These eggs can be keep several months prior to hatching and stay dormant until the weather gets warmer.
So naturally, the way to stop mosquitoes before they start is removing water sources so breed and hatch. Empty water from old tires, flower pots, and etc that could be collection points for mosquitoes. Something as small as a bottle cap can be home to a mosquito.
Also, in general think about where you get standing water. Some times some landscaping work to improve drainage may be the best way to reduce infestations.
Killing Mosquitoes Before They Can Bite
Some times standing water is unavoidable or will take more effort and time then you have to fix. Another route to go is to kill the mosquitoes before they take flight.
Mosquito Dunks (Bti)
You can do this by dropping mosquito dunks in your untreated standing water. This is the method I have been employing to control the mosquitoes that originate from my lawn.
I like them because they are biodegradable, safe for aquatic fish, dogs, and cats plus they can last over 30 days. Plus they are relatively cheap if you got a small to moderate yard.You simply drop the stuff in standing water on your property and let it dissolve. How much you drop is based on how much water surface you have so read instructions. On side is product I bought from Amazon. I have a small lawn so this was plenty but you can buy in much larger quantities. If you were planning to buy some anyway you are awesome if you use the link.
I must note that per the label it can be a skin and eye irritant and is not recommended for treated drinking water. That being said WHO has approved it for treatment of drinking water that is not further treated but some general cautions are mentioned. The full draft can be found here.
Mosquito dunks contain Bacillus thuringiensis strain israelensis(Bti) which is a larvicide for mosquitoes and black flies. The mosquito larvae eats the bacteria which ultimately kills it.
Once a mosquito is in the pupae stage, it is done feeding and the product will not kill them. Once mosquitoes does take flight it can live well over a week. Overall, if you already have mosquitoes the full benefit may take some time.
If Bti is not your style or you want to use something around your house, coffee grounds may be an option. Coffee grounds are a good deterrent for a whole host of critters. In particular, caffeine is a toxin to many animals and believed to work for mosquitoes as well, killing the larvae. A couple studies out there support this but were not particularly definitive. Here is one I looked through.
Fighting Once They Take Flight
Odds are that if you are reading this article you already have issues with mosquitoes. Below are some things you can do to deal with them now.
DIY Mosquito Catcher
Mosquitoes are attracted to you when you exhale air and carbon dioxide. This mosquito trap works by drawing mosquitoes down into the trap via the off gas from fermentation where they can't find their way out and eventually starve or drown. On the right is an example of a trap I made with a Gatorade bottom. It was not pretty, but as you can see I got a fair amount of mosquitoes and other insects using stuff I had just laying around the house.
What you need is:
A plastic bottle (2 liter soda, water, or etc)
1 cup water brown sugar (can adjust per bottle size)
1 cup water (can adjust per bottle size)
11 grams Dry yeast (can adjust per bottle size)
In a pot/pan you will heat your sugar and water until the sugar is fully dissolved making a syrup. Then you will let it cool. Then you will take your bottle and cut it in half. Pour the cooled syrup into the bottom half and pour the dry yeast on top. Do not mix as the trap will ferment too fast! Invert the top half of the bottle onto the bottom half and tape together. Traps can last as long as 2 weeks in which you can empty it out and make a new batch.
Fighting the Good Fight
At a minimum, mosquitoes are annoying but at their worst they are deadly so spending some time on mosquito control is worth it. Mosquito borne diseases kill more people than all the wars combined and slowly the spread of disease is a worthwhile effort.
For Zika in particular, it can be spread when a mosquito bites someone infected with Zika and then bites someone else transmitting the disease. The Aedes species is the mosquito type most known as a carrier and can be found in South and Central America as well as the southern half of the United States. Particularly, the Olympics taking place in Brazil has raised several concerns due to the high influx of people from around the world who will be travelling there and its current outbreak.
Mosquitoes are also responsible for the spread of Malaria which kills about 1 million people a year, with its largest toll in Sub-Saharan Africa according to UNICEF. Malaria used to be present through out the United States up until the 1950's, however, the US government took a focused approach to eradicate carriers for the disease in areas that were known to have Malaria.
This was largely attributed to the use of DDT. DDT is a very effective insecticide however it came with its unintended consequences for humans and wildlife which ultimately led to its ban in the United States and other countries.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of things to do to fight mosquitoes. Some methods are very passive and some are very active with different consequences to consider in the balance. Certainly, something worth fighting and a little preemptive work can go a long way.