No one likes mosquitoes. There’s nothing worse than sitting outside by the pool or enjoying a nice evening after a long day and swatting at mosquitoes. These little flying insects can quickly turn a fun-filled summer day into a nightmare. Mosquito bites are not only annoying—they also transmit diseases.
Read on for facts about mosquitoes and ways to prevent and control them from making your landscape their home.
How to Control Mosquitoes
Step 1: It’s important to understand the environments that are conducive to insects. The first thing you need to do is remove any stagnant water, the preferred breeding spots of mosquitoes and gnats. Empty buckets, bowls and other yard debris that may be holding stagnant water. Clean out your gutters of leaves or branches. It’s worth remembering that a mosquito larva only needs 8–10 days for germination. Removing all breeding sites from your yard is just the start.
Step 2: Keep your lawn well-manicured. Tall overgrown grass, bushes and trees produce great living environments for mosquitoes. They enjoy shade, decomposing leaves and the moisture retention of the tall grasses. A well-kept yard will not provide the best habitat for breeding these biting invaders.
Step 3: Treat your lawn and bushes with an insecticide. This will need to be done every month or so, depending upon how much rain your area may get. The more rain, the more likely it is that the product is being washed away. If you are planning on having an outdoor party, be sure to treat your lawn at least two days in advance.
Step 3a: Consider a few bio-friendly alternatives if you don’t feel comfortable using chemicals. Try citronella candles and/or thermacells. Mosquito traps are also useful for catching flying mosquitoes.
Step 4: Put your feet up and enjoy your mosquito-free space. To recap, the best way to enjoy a mosquito-free summer is to make your home as uninviting as possible to them. Remove all standing water, clean your gutters regularly and keep a well-maintained yard. If they do still make some untimely visits, treat with an insecticide or employ a bio-friendly alternative.
How to Prevent Mosquitoes
The best way to prevent mosquitoes is to have a well-kept lawn. Lawns that are regularly maintained aren’t conducive to mosquito habitats. Shady, damp spots should be kept to a minimum, tall grass should be regularly mowed at your grass type’s mowing height, remove standing water and clean the gutters regularly.
You can also attempt to attract their natural predators like dragonflies, frogs, bats, turtles and spiders, birds and fish that eat mosquitoes.
Changing the lighting is a great way to keep mosquitoes as well as other insects away. Oftentimes, flying insects, including mosquitoes, are attracted to lights at night. Consider using different types of insect-repelling lighting if this is an issue for your home.
You may want to incorporate some mint and rosemary plants into your landscape as the strong aroma of these plants may drive some of your biting friends away. Other insect-repelling plants are:
- Citronella Grass
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Thyme
If none of these prevention or treatment strategies seem to be working for you, consider calling a professional to come to your house and treat mosquitoes.
What are mosquitoes?
There are many different types of mosquitoes, as we discuss in the next section. In fact, CDC estimates around 3,500 different types of mosquitoes. With that being said, there’s no one location where they originated from.
Mosquitoes are slender flying insects with aquatic larvae. Female mosquitoes feed on the blood of humans, other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, spreading diseases like malaria. Male mosquitoes only eat nectar while females need blood meals in order to lay eggs.
Common Types of Mosquitoes
Some of the more common mosquitoes in the United States include:
- Yellow Fever Mosquito
- Asian Tiger Mosquito
- Anopheles Mosquito
- Southern House Mosquito
- Pitcher Plant Mosquito
- Eastern Saltmarsh Mosquito
Learn more about some of these mosquitoes in Bugs That Bite.
What do mosquitoes eat?
We previously mentioned that female mosquitoes feed on the blood of many different types of living creatures while male mosquitoes eat nectar. However, they both love to eat sugar. Both male and female mosquitoes eat nectar, plant sap and honeydew.
Female mosquitoes need the extra protein found in blood to lay eggs. Because females also like sweet nectars, they will sometimes favor those whose sweat smells sweeter.
What are mosquitoes attracted to?
Female mosquitoes, the ones who feed on blood, can be attracted to smells and colors. Mosquitoes select hosts based on the carbon dioxide humans and animals emit. They’re also attracted to body heat, perspiration and skin odor.
Darker colors are also more attractive to them.
Where do mosquitoes come from?
Female mosquitoes drink blood from animals and humans. Then they lay eggs in standing water, usually in egg rafts, or places close to bodies of water.
What time of year do mosquitoes come out?
Mosquitoes thrive in hot temperatures. They typically become active once temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which varies by location. The Southern United States may reach these temperatures as early as February while they might not become active until May in more northern regions.
How Mosquitoes Bite
Female mosquitoes bite by inserting a needle-like mouthpart to suck up blood. While doing this, they also inject saliva into your body, which your skin then reacts by forming an itchy bump.
Can mosquito bites make you sick?
As previously mentioned, female mosquitoes feed on humans, other mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. In other words, a mosquito who feeds on a frog and a crow one day may also bite you in the same timeframe.
If they come in contact with disease from a living life form, they can also carry that same disease to another host. Mosquitoes are therefore considered “vectors”, as they often carry infections through blood.
Bites from mosquitoes carrying certain types of viruses or even parasites can cause severe illness in its hosts.
Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by the female mosquito coming into contact with a disease or virus or host and then spreading it to another host. There are many different types of mosquito-borne diseases, but the ones that affect humans include:
- Zika virus
- West Nile virus
- Yellow fever
All of these diseases have occurred in the United States with the West Nile virus being the most common. Symptoms of these diseases differ from one another, but some of the most common ones are:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Back pain
Are mosquito bites dangerous?
Not in all cases, but they can be. Mosquito bites should be taken seriously. Although some only experience a short-term illness or just an itchy bump, mosquitoes have the capability of causing long-term severe illnesses or even death. This is usually rare, though.
The Zika virus, for example, can cause birth defects in babies if they transmit the virus to the mother during pregnancy.
With all this being said, these severe outcomes are rare. They can still happen and should be taken seriously, though.
Depending on your location and environment, mosquitoes shouldn’t be that hard to control. Maintaining a healthy yard, clean environment and eliminating any areas of standing water are the best ways to prevent mosquitoes from turning your lawn and garden into their home. Other suggestions include the products listed earlier in this article and seeking professional mosquito treatment.