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Mosquitoes are an ever-present problem. They begin breeding in the early spring and can last into the late fall depending on how cold it gets. Mosquitoes can be more than just an annoyance because they can spread illnesses like the West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis. Mosquitoes are such a problem that most municipalities devote money each year to treat and control the mosquito population around their city. However, in order to truly protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes, you need to take steps to stop mosquitoes from breeding and developing on your property.
Understanding How Mosquitoes Breed
The first step in mosquito control is understanding how mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes will go through several phases in their lives. They begin as eggs in water. When the mosquitoes hatch, they will spend time as larvae in the water. They will molt four times as larvae and breath by coming to the surface. After this stage the mosquito become a pupa which also spends time in the water. After hatching from this stage, the mosquitoes become adults, and the females will feed on people and animals. Water is essential for mosquitoes to survive and breed. They need calm standing water to lay their eggs and so that they can hatch and the mosquitoes can develop into adults. Mosquitoes do not need a lot of water to breed in. they can successful breed and develop in just a capful of water.
Common Breeding Spots in Your Backyard
There are some spots in your yard that may be the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Taking the time to inspect your yard can help you identify the areas that you may need to address and change to stop breeding mosquitoes in your home. Here are areas that you should check:
- Swampy or soggy spots that do not dry completely between rainstorms
- Bird baths
- Junk or tires you have stored on your property
- Gardening tools, buckets and wheelbarrows that can collect water
- Play spaces and toys that may collect water
- Bird baths, ponds and water features in your yard
- Clogged rain gutters and drains
Addressing Toys and Children Play Spots
Children’s toys and play spaces can inadvertently cause issues in your yard. If you have a sandbox in your yard, you need to be sure that it is draining properly after a rainstorm. Toys like buckets, wading pools or other containers can collect water and give mosquitoes a place to breed. The solution to these issues focus on finding a place to store the toys so that they will not collect water. Be sure to store wading pools upside down when not in use. After a storm check these areas and empty any standing water that may have collected.
Solutions for Standing Water and Water Features
You may need to address issues with the overall design of your landscaping. If you have spots that do not drain completely or dry out, this is going to be an issue for mosquitoes. You will need to address the drainage. You may need to hire a professional landscaper who can help you map out a way to encourage the area to drain. Cutting back the foliage and trees to give the area more direct light can also help the area to dry out and reduce the possible swampiness. Depending on the seriousness of the drainage issue this may be an expensive thing to address, but it will help your yard overall.
You also need to address the water features in your yard. If you have a naturally occurring pond, or you designed one as a water feature there are things you can do to make these features less appealing to mosquitoes. Adding fish to the pond can help since they will eat some of the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes like still or standing water so installing a feature like a fountain or a water fall can address these issues. Using larvicides in the areas that you cannot change can also help.
You can address the bird baths in your yard in a few different ways. You can replace the bird baths with small fountains or add a small fountain to the bird bath. This will allow the birds to still access the water without making it a breeding ground for the mosquitoes. If you want to keep the bird baths, you will need to empty and scrub them out at least weekly.
Cleaning Up Your Property to Address Mosquitoes
If you have tires, or other junk stored on your property, these are items that will naturally collect water and that can cause real issues around your home. Getting rid of these items or building a place to store them inside can make a big difference in the number of mosquitoes around your yard. Although it may be a big project, this can also open up more usable space in your yard for a garden or to give your children more space to play.
Building a gardening shed to store your gardening tools including your lawn mowers, wheelbarrows and other gardening tools can also be beneficial. Not only will these items last longer because they are stored in a place that is safe from the elements, the shed will prevent them collecting water. If you do not already have a gardening shed, purchasing one can be a valuable asset. If your shed is currently full of things that you do not use and you do not have room to store your items, consider cleaning it out.
Cleaning out underbrush, old leaves and trimming back your bushes and foliage can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard. These items will prevent the ground from drying out completely. These steps will limit the number of the areas that mosquitoes can land and the drier the ground, the better.
As you clean out your yard, be sure to check old stumps and rocks that may collect small amounts of water. Some mosquitoes prefer to breed in water that does not have any dirt in it. You can fill the holes in the stumps with concrete and flip the rocks over or rearrange them to stop the water from collecting in them.
Miriam Caldwell graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English. She has been working as a freelance writer since 2005 and has written on a wide variety of topics ranging from personal finances, home care, parenting, WordPress, gardening to pest control. She also teaches writing and enjoys helping others learn something new.