Now that our rainy season has arrived, the number of mosquitoes around our homes and communities is on the rise. That doesn’t mean your summer months need be nothing more than swatting and sprays to fight them away. There are simple steps you can take to reclaim your yard from these potentially dangerous pests.
First, understand that the mosquitoes typically active during the day are in the genus Aedes, which includes mosquitoes that can carry and transmit the Zika virus to people. This includes the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the latter known more familiarly as the tiger mosquito because of their striped legs. Daytime flyers and biters, Aedes mosquitoes require stagnant or still water in which to lay eggs and complete the life cycle. The female can use a water source as small as a bottle cap, and her eggs can hatch out to adults in as few as eight days!
Knowing about the breeding cycle, you now can help break it. Check your yard weekly for any sources of standing water, and eliminate or empty any you find. Common areas that collect water include:
- rain gutters,
- flower pot and bases,
- childrens’ toys,
- tarps on boats and equipment,
- rain barrels (no lid), and
- bromeliads or other water-holding plants.
That last category – bromeliads or other water-holding plants – makes for a difficult situation. Emptying the plants removes a potential mosquito breeding site, but that also eliminates water sources that often are integral parts of the ecosystem. Thankfully, you can find on the market products (like “Mosquito Bits”) that contain Bacillus thuringiensis, or BTi, a bacteria found naturally in soil and one that attacks only mosquito larvae. Simply sprinkle some BTi into the bromeliad water “pot” to break the breeding cycle.
Small ponds can offer another haven for mosquitoes. But, there’s a natural control for that: the Gambusia fish. Better known as the mosquitofish, these animals attack and eat mosquito larvae – one 3-inch fish can eat up to 100 larvae a day – effectively clearing small ponds or even rain barrels. Mosquitofish are available free of charge through Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services.
There is no need to suffer through mosquito season. By checking areas around your home on a weekly basis and eliminating standing water, you can easily eliminate a majority of the mosquitoes! If you take these steps but continue to have a mosquito issue around your home or community, call Mosquito Management (941-861-5000) to schedule an inspection to isolate your problem and identify solutions.
Thank you for helping to minimize mosquitoes in our community.
Carol Wyatt-Evens is the Chemicals in the Environment agent with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. Carol leads classes on, among other topics, controlling mosquitoes in your environment. Find more about these classes at ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com.