If you have an abundance of mosquitoes in your yard or garden, you know they can be very unwelcome guests. These pests carry and spread dangerous diseases like the West Nile virus and other nasty illnesses. But how can you prevent these pesky insects from taking up residence in your yard? If it’s too late and they have already moved in, how can you get rid of them? Joseph Conlon, a technical advisor at the American Mosquito Control Association, offers some solid advice on how to mosquito-proof your home.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you must first get rid of mosquito-breeding sites in your yard. Since mosquitoes can lay up to 200 eggs in a very small amount of water, removing any standing water on your property is a critical first step in ridding your yard of mosquito breeding potential.
Here's a list of things Conlon says need to be done:
- Get rid of old tires, tin cans, buckets of water, and anything that can catch rainwater.
- Keep drainage areas free of trash and leaves so that if water is flowing out of your house, it's not stagnant.
- Check air conditioning drip pans.
- Make sure the gutters on your home are clean and free of leaves.
- Cover your trash containers to keep out rain water.
- Fix any leaky faucets and hoses, since mosquitoes can breed in the water that pools underneath them.
- Change water in bird baths regularly as well as drip trays under flower pots.
- Be aware of any hollow holes in tree stumps.
- Turn over any boats or kayaks.
- Regularly change tarps that are over firewood or an outdoor pool. "Every time I see creases in tarps with water in them, I see mosquito eggs," says Conlon.
- Make sure the screens on your windows and doors are well maintained.
Don't forget to scrub! Even after you get rid of standing water, mosquitoes eggs can remain stuck to the sides of containers and survive for months. After dumping water from a vessel, "scrub right above the water line, which is where the mosquitoes lay their eggs," says Conlon. "Scrubbing them gets rid of them. They fall on the ground and they don't hatch in the grass." Speaking of your grass, be sure to keep it short and keep your shrubs and bushes trimmed. Adult mosquitoes like to hide there to keep out of the sun.
Bug zappers, sprays, and other home remedies are limited in their ability to keep your yard free of mosquitoes. "I am not aware of any product you can spray on your lawn that has been proven to repel mosquitoes," says Conlon. "Often the sprays for your yard are what are called exempt pesticides, which means they are not required to be reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for effectiveness of safety."