Alexandria, VA – We don’t know anyone who likes mosquitoes except maybe bats and birds. The Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia say that it’s time to start thinking about controlling mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are now becoming active as temperatures consistently reach 50 F degrees or higher.They are annoying and can carry disease. Many will think about calling pest control companies to spray their yards to kill them off. While it is tempting to use sprays, these insecticides kill pollinators and many other beneficial insects as well. Insect populations are dropping precipitously worldwide. There are 3 billion fewer birds (who are insect eaters) in North America than there were 50 years ago.
There are much easier, and much less expensive, ways to control these pests without harming nature. Eliminating standing water is the most effective way to control mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are best controlled at the larval stage, not as adults. Female mosquitoes bite for a blood meal before laying eggs in standing water. These eggs hatch in 2-3 days, and adults emerge in 7-10.
Here are better strategies from the Master Gardeners to control mosquitoes.
- The most effective control is to dump the outside water at least every 7 days in bird baths, potted plant saucers, leaky hoses, toys left outside, kiddie pools, clogged gutters, corrugated drain pipes, upturned lids, pet water bowls, etc. A tablespoon of water left for 7 days is enough for larvae to live in. Get the kids involved and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
- Where you can’t dump the water, use BTi (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, the active ingredient in Mosquito Dunks and Bits), which kills mosquito larvae without harming birds, beneficial insects, or other wildlife.
- Explore alternatives to English ivy and other dense ground covers, where mosquitoes rest and breed during the day
- Taking action now will reduce the numbers of mosquitoes while the population is still low and will reduce the numbers later in the summer when you want to be out enjoying your yard.
To learn more about mosquitoes and how to control them check out these articles written by the Extension Master Gardeners of Arlington and Alexandria:
- Protecting Yourself From Mosquitoes … Without Harming Pollinators
- Mosquito Control Begins with a Home Walk-Around
For more information about mosquitoes and ticks: Contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at 3308. S. Stafford Street, Arlington, VA, call the Extension Master Gardener Help Desk at 703-228-6414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out the resources at https://mgnv.org/mosquito-and-tick control/ and https://armn.org/mosquitos-and-ticks/