What is the best way to reduce populations of mosquitoes?
The first and best defense against these pests and the illnesses they may carry is to eliminate the places where they breed. Here are a few suggestions:
- Remove or empty water in old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or other places where mosquitoes might breed. Be sure to check clogged gutters and flat roofs that may have poor drainage. Make sure cisterns, cesspools, septic tanks, fire barrels, rain barrels and trash containers are covered tightly with a lid or with 16-mesh screen.
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use. Unused swimming pools should be covered or drained during the mosquito season. (Note: If you choose to drain your pool, be sure the hydrostatic relief valve is open in order to keep it from floating out of the ground if the water table rises.)
- Change the water in bird baths and plant pots or drip trays at least once each week.
- Store boats covered or upside down, or remove rainwater weekly.
- Empty your pet’s water bowl daily.
- Level the ground around your home so water can run off and not collect in low spots. Fill in holes or depressions near your home that accumulate water.
- Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water.
- If you have an ornamental water garden, stock it with mosquito-eating fish (e.g., minnows, “mosquito fish,” or goldfish). They eat mosquito larvae.
- Keep weeds and tall grass cut short; adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours.
- Use a flyswatter or household spray to kill mosquitoes, flies or other insects that get into buildings. Spray shrubbery and high weeds to kill adult insects. (Check the insecticide label to make the sure the spray will not damage flowers or ornamental plants.)
- Small impoundments of water can be treated for mosquito larvae with “Bti,” a bacterial insecticide. Many hardware stores carry doughnut-shaped Bti briquets (Mosquito Dunks R) for this purpose. Be sure to follow the insecticide label directions exactly.
- Some mosquito control methods are not very effective. Bug zappers are not effective in controlling biting mosquitoes. Various birds and bats will eat mosquitoes, but there is little scientific evidence that this reduces mosquitoes around homes.
- Community-wide mosquito abatement efforts can be quite effective if they are conducted as part of an integrated pest management program. This includes monitoring and draining or treating areas where mosquitoes breed — such as street catch basins, occasionally flooded marshes, river backwater areas, swamps and other low-lying areas.