By Raymond King, District Director of Environmental Health
For mosquito control around your home, your time and money are usually best spent killing mosquito larvae on and around your property. Many homeowners only focus on killing adult mosquitoes and ignore the mosquito larvae, which are easier and less expensive to kill. By all means, kill adult mosquitoes but don’t forget about where they came from.
The mosquitoes biting you probably came from the larvae in standing water on your own property or a nearby neighbor’s property. The two species that can carry the Zika virus, the Asian tiger mosquito and the “Yellow Fever Mosquito” (Aedes aegypti), normally don’t go much farther than 600 to 1000 feet from where they hatched.
Whenever I investigate mosquito complaints, I usually find the mosquito larvae right there on the property of the complainant. On one such investigation, the complainant wanted the county to come spray for adult mosquitoes, which were extremely numerous. When I got to the home, the property owner had thirty or more 5-gallon buckets around her barn and house catching rainwater. There were hundreds of mosquito larvae in every bucket.
Most of the time, mosquito larvae are not as obvious as in 5-gallon buckets. We don’t think about places around our homes where even small amounts of water are breeding mosquitoes. The Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito need only a couple of ounces of water for their larvae. These two mosquito species are called “container-breeders” because they only lay their eggs in small amounts of water as you would find in cans, stopped-up gutters and very small pools of water. They do not lay eggs in large pools of standing water, although other mosquitoes will.
Mosquitoes can go from the egg to biting adult stages in as little as a week. Here are some of the places around homes and businesses that will harbor mosquito larvae. Conduct a survey of your own property and see if you can find any of these:
- PLATES UNDER FLOWER POTS – Notorious for having mosquito larvae and probably right there on your deck.
- STOPPED UP RAIN GUTTERS – Zika mosquito heaven.
- OLD TIRES – Zika mosquitoes love old tires and water is difficult to remove from old tires.
- KIDDIE POOLS – Leave water in them for a few days and you will have mosquito larvae.
- BIRD BATHS – Not just a good place for birds.
- TRASH PILES AND OLD CANS – Any small amount of water that remains can hatch mosquito larvae in as little as a week. Dispose of all empty beverage containers, plastic wrappers, discarded toys, etc.
- POTS, PANS, JARS, LIDS, BOTTLES – A single water bottle can produce hundreds of adult mosquitoes.
- TREE HOLES – All you need is a little water in a tree hole.
- YARD TOYS – Plastic yard toys holding water are all a mosquito needs.
- WATER TROUGHS FOR LIVESTOCK – Can breed thousands of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes bite your livestock too and can carry diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
- BUCKETS AND BARRELS – Empty them every few days or treat with Mosquito Dunks.
- WHEEL BARROWS – Turn wheel barrows upside down when not in use.
- DECORATIVE PONDS – Unless your pond has running water it will have mosquito larvae. Place fish in these ponds if possible. The Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis) is a good choice.
- CORRUGATED PIPES – Believe it or not, buried corrugated pipes will breed mosquitoes in the small amounts of water left in each corrugation.
- PLASTIC TARPS LEFT ON THE GROUND – These plastic sheets can hold water for weeks.
- CLOGGED DRAINAGE DITCHES – Look in nearby ditches and inside culverts that hold water.
- BOATS, CANOES, KYACKS – Cover or turn these over so that they do not hold water. Pump out bilges in boats.
- UNMAINTAINED SWIMMING POOLS – Abandoned swimming pools will turn green with algae and can be a neighborhood mosquito nightmare.
- PET WATER AND FOOD DISHES - Remove pet food and water dishes that are not being used or dump out water every three or four days.
- GARBAGE CANS - Don't leave garbage can lids lying upside down. Be sure water does not collect in the bottom of garbage cans or dumpsters.
When water cannot be drained out of objects, the best method for killing mosquito larvae is the Mosquito Dunk, which contains bacteria that only kill mosquito larvae and is harmless to all other animals. You can obtain Mosquito Dunks in any hardware or farm supply store and they are inexpensive. You can put them in your dog’s water dish. Mosquito Dunks are not chemical pesticides and are safe around children and wildlife.
For small amounts of water, Mosquito Dunks also come in granular form or you can break the dunks into smaller pieces. Unless Mosquito Dunks are washed away, they will kill mosquito larvae for at least a month before needing replacement. Mosquito Dunks are shaped like small donuts that can be secured with a string to an object to keep them from washing away when it rains.
If you have specific mosquito problems that cannot be resolved on your own, call me at (706) 529- 5757, extension 1161. We do not provide mosquito control services but can help you identify the source of the mosquitoes and suggest control measures. We are also collecting mosquito adults and larvae as part of a survey of this area of Georgia.