How DC-Area Residents Can Prepare Their Properties Against Mosquitoes This Summer
When mosquitoes come into the yard, they can make every outdoor activity miserable. If you use your backyard to cook food on the grill or enjoy a seasonal outdoor kitchen area, mosquitoes can invade and have you retreating back into your home. If you have a pool, there is nothing that can ruin a day of sunbathing like mosquitoes biting your back. If you enjoy gardening, mosquitoes can turn that relaxing work into frustration, real quick. But, is it enough of a frustration to warrant investing in residential mosquito control? You decide.
Mosquitoes are linked to the spread of many human pathogens. You're probably already familiar with many of them. Who hasn't heard of Zika virus, malaria, and the West Nile virus? You may even know about chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever. They have been making quite a name for themselves. But the list of mosquito-borne viruses goes well beyond the ones we are familiar with. And they come with a wide range of symptoms which we often mistake for the flu or the common cold. Have you ever had a fever that lasted three days and your whole body ached? That might have had something to do with a mosquito bite. It is hard to know for sure.
Some of the pathogens listed above come with symptoms that go beyond the flu or the common cold. West Nile claims human lives every year in the United States. Zika virus is linked to microcephaly in unborn children, which can impact an entire family for life. It is also connected to Guillain-Barre syndrome which may manifest itself as a prickling sensation in the toes, ankles, fingers, and wrists. This can develop into a weakness in the legs that spreads to the upper body, and difficulty with talking, chewing, swallowing, and moving the eyes. No family needs mosquito-borne illness. Life has enough challenges.
There are many ways to prevent mosquito bites. The one we turn to most is mosquito repellent. But, let's be honest, how often do we apply mosquito repellent when we go out in the yard? And, even if we remember to apply it, it isn't 100% effective at preventing bites. It is better to take the time to do a little backyard mosquito control to reduce mosquitoes. Here are some ideas.
Make fixes. A mosquito lays its eggs in still water, and it only takes about an inch of water to provide mosquitoes with a suitable breeding site. When you correct leaky spigots, leaky hoses, obstructed gutters, compacted ground, and other conditions that allow rainwater to collect, you can reduce mosquitoes in your yard. Be aware, however, that eggs can hatch in just over 24 hours. If it rains for a few days, mosquitoes can reproduce no matter what you do to control breeding sites. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to reduce breeding sites. On the dry days, you'll reap the benefits of your labor.
Remove containers. Any object that can contain water should be considered when reducing breeding sites. Kiddie pools should be turned over when not being used. Tire swings should have a hole in the bottom to allow water to drain out. Tarps should be slanted to allow water to run to the ground and soak in. Objects that have surfaces that collect rainwater should be protected or stowed away.
Remove some plants. When you have lots of foliage that provides shade in your yard, you're going to invite mosquitoes in. Mosquitoes are moisture pests that hide in shaded areas during the day. They are especially attracted to shady areas that are moist, such as ornamental plants, shrubs, trees, and such. Trimming or removing plants can reduce mosquitoes in your yard because a thin landscape allows sunlight to dry moisture and reduce shade.
Add plants. There are many plants that repel mosquitoes. While these plants won't keep mosquitoes from coming into your yard or get rid of mosquitoes, they can make your shaded ornamental less inviting. Try basil, lavender, lemon balm, catnip, marigolds, or rosemary to keep mosquitoes out of your landscape.
Another way to deal with mosquitoes in your backyard is to use mosquito control methods. Here are some ideas:
Are you going to be lounging by the pool? Consider putting some fans out there to keep mosquitoes from landing on you. It will also keep you cooler as you relax in the sun.
Do you have a bug zapper? Consider getting rid of it. Studies have shown that bug zappers are great at luring mosquito in but only effective at killing male mosquitoes, which are not the mosquitoes that bite.
Wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants to give mosquitoes less skin to bite.
Wear bright colors to make it harder for mosquitoes to lock on to you.
While the above tips will help you reduce mosquitoes and prevent bites, the best solution is to invest in seasonal mosquito control. Professionals use non-toxic mosquito control to turn the hiding locations in your yard into traps for mosquitoes. These products are enough to take down simple organisms such as mosquitoes and ticks, but will not harm larger animals. Your pest management professional can also treat still water sources with larvicide to make them unusable.
When you have ongoing mosquito control, your yard is constantly protected from mosquitoes, and ready for any outdoor activity you have planned. But, what if you're not ready to invest in seasonal mosquito control and you have an upcoming outdoor event, such as a wedding reception, graduation, or family reunion? If all you need is a one-time service, that's no problem. Your pest management professional can take care of that for you. When you have a certified mosquito control expert spray your yard 24-48 hours before your event, it can make a big difference on that important day.
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance. Take the time to protect your family and your pets from mosquito bites and consider investing in backyard mosquito control. Life has enough challenges without adding mosquito-borne pathogens into the mix.
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