News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
As summer settles in, we’re spending more and more time outdoors. Between backyard barbecues, evenings sipping iced tea on the porch, and nights telling stories around the fire pit, there’s no shortage of reasons to be outside.
The only downside here (besides the unforgiving Georgia heat) is the bugs – mosquitoes, to be exact. The little bloodsuckers can make your life miserable, not to mention itchy. It’s tempting to grab the strongest pesticide you can find and spray everything down to keep your property mosquito-free. But that might actually be the worst thing you could do!
As it turns out, many common ways of dealing with mosquitoes can be dangerous, either to the mosquito population, the local ecosystem, or even to you and your family! So how can you deal with those pesky pests?
National Mosquito Control Awareness Week
Next week, June 19th through the 25th, is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. Hosted by the American Mosquito Control Association, this annual event aims to educate the public on the best and safest ways to deal with mosquitoes. Their integrated mosquito management (IMM) approach includes five steps that anyone can follow:
1. Educate Yourself
Most people don’t really think about mosquitoes until they’ve got an itchy bite on their arm or leg. But successful mosquito management depends heavily on controlling the population before this stage in the mosquitoes’ life cycle.
In order for mosquito eggs to develop into pupa (baby mosquitoes), they have to be exposed to water. Generally speaking, mosquitoes will choose to lay their eggs in pools of standing water to keep the eggs hydrated until they hatch. Standing water naturally occurs in depressions in the ground or low points on your property.
But water can also collect in man-made locations. There are some obvious spots, like a flower pot forgotten in the corner of your porch, or a decorative bird bath. There are also some not-so-obvious spots, because water can pool almost anywhere. The less-than-a-mouthful of water gathered on the swing of your backyard playset is more than enough for a mosquito to brood. Even the divot in the lap of your favorite garden gnome probably holds just enough liquid to host some mosquito eggs.
To truly control the mosquito population in your area, you’ll need to attack at the source – that is, the eggs.
Now that you know where mosquito babies come from, it’s time to figure out where specifically they’re coming from around your home. Have a look around to see if there’s any visible standing water, or any places that could house standing water the next time it rains, or your sprinklers water your lawn.
Wide surveillance is the best surveillance, of course, so the more information you can gather on where mosquitoes might be nesting, the better. Talk to your neighbors to see if they’ve got any candidate locations, or take a walk around the block and see what the sidewalks look like.
3. Source Reduction
So you know where mosquitoes lay their eggs, and now you know where mosquitoes could lay their eggs near you. It’s time to prevent that! The most popular method is called ‘tip and toss.’ Basically, empty out those standing water locations! The American Mosquito Control Association recommends checking your surroundings for standing water at least once a week during the warmer months, and of course, after every time it rains.
While you’re at it, you can also do what you can to prevent any more water from gathering. This might look like moving some mulch around to fill in the lower areas of your yard, or tupping that flower pot upside-down so it can’t collect any more water. Maybe your garden gnome needs a little ceramic frog to sit in his lap, so the little divot there can’t fill up, either.
The last two steps do involve the use of insecticides, but it’s important to note that larvicide comes first. Larvicide just means using pesticides designed specifically to impact the larval stages of life, rather than the adult stages. A variety of biological control agents exist that can be distributed into standing water where eggs or larvae already exist to prevent them from developing into adults.
The last resort, adulticide, refers to the use of pesticides to kill off adult pests. The danger here is that pesticides can’t target just one type of pest – so while you’ll definitely kill off those mosquitoes, you might also kill off the local bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In addition, some pesticides can be harmful to the environment. If you must look to adulticide, be sure to do your research and find the best and most environmentally-friendly insecticide for your area, and of course, follow the application instructions exactly. A lot of insecticide pollution could be avoided by only applying what the directions say to, rather than spraying anything and everything in sight.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.