Ask The County Agent: How can I control mosquitoes around my home?
By Stephanie Butcher, Coweta County Extension Office
Question: What can I do to control mosquitoes around the house? They seem to be worse than usual this year.
Agent: It’s no surprise that you are seeing more mosquitoes than usual. As we move into the last weeks of summer, the mosquito population is expected to explode since we have perfect conditions for them.
To date, much of the state is ahead of normal rainfall for this time of the year. As a result, there is more standing water than in recent memory. This provides excellent larval habitat for mosquitoes, which are semi-aquatic insects that require standing water for the larval and pupal stages.
There are 63 species of mosquitoes known in Georgia that transmit a host of diseases such as West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which is classified as the most severe mosquito-borne disease of humans in the United States although it is extremely rare.
Mosquitoes can even affect our most beloved pets by passing along heartworms to dogs and cats. Preventing mosquito bites is crucial to avoiding mosquito-borne illnesses, and there are things you can do to prevent mosquitoes from becoming a nuisance to you and your family:
Remove sources of standing water
Mosquitoes must have a standing water source in order to breed, so get rid of any standing water. Take a good look around your home. Think about those areas or items that may hold water for a long time. Buckets, plant saucers, boats, tarps, old tires, toys, or anything else that holds water makes the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you check around your home and don’t see any problem areas, then look up.
How about your gutters? Leaves and debris in gutters provide the perfect home for mosquito larvae. What about rain barrels? They sure come in handy during a drought, but make sure the screens that cover openings are in place and use larvicidal briquettes (sold under a variety of trade names) to prevent larvae from hatching. While you’re at it, go ahead and check your window and door screens.
Many mosquitoes are attracted to light, and will make their way inside your home if they have a chance, especially on those cool fall evenings we sometimes experience in September and October. When you’re opening windows and doors to enjoy a little fresh air, don’t let the mosquitoes in at the same time.
Choose your clothing and repellents carefully
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so be prepared if you will be outdoors when they are most active. Wearing the right clothing and applying a good repellent can help you avoid bites.
Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is best and only use EPA approved repellents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products containing DEET for children as young as two months. Parents should apply the repellent to their hands and then apply it to the children. It is important to get good coverage of exposed skin and then wash the treated skin upon returning indoors. When using any type of insect repellent, always read and follow label directions.
By following these tips, you can enjoy the last days of summer and the first days of fall without the irritating, high-pitched buzz of a mosquito flying around your head.
For more information on mosquitoes and insect repellents, contact the Coweta County Extension office at 770-254-2620 or [email protected] and ask for the publication, “Stinging and Biting Pests”.