How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are one of summertime’s most annoying pests. Their buzzing around us is exceedingly annoying and their bite will cause inflammation and itching for days after the attack. It has been proven that mosquitoes have been around far longer than man, as evidenced by ancient mosquitoes found encased in 79 million year old amber. In the modern world, there are some 3,500 species of mosquito spreading across nearly every continent. The mosquito is also a prolific breeder. With an average lifespan for female mosquitoes of about 5 to 10 weeks, four to eight weeks of this time is spent as an adult, with female mosquitoes laying hundreds of eggs before dieing.
The idea of complete eradication, as good as it sounds, is essentially impossible. Some cities maintain budgets in the six figures to reduce mosquito populations. As consumers, Americans spend billions of dollars every year on chemical repellants, ultrasonic devices, barriers, bombs and sprays to keep the pesky insects away from us. Some of these solutions do a great job of keeping mosquitoes away, but others are just a simple waste of money.
Before we get into what works, lets first dispel some popular myths about mosquito control, starting with the “bug zapper”. These are utterly useless in getting rid of mosquitoes. These flying insects are drawn to their prey by honing in on CO2 and heat. The bug zapper offers neither. The only thing you will accomplish is killing many beneficial insects. Citronella candles or torches using citronella have been long touted as an effective mosquito repellant. The truth is that you could achieve the same degree of protection by using normal household candles. This is because citronella candles and torches work by providing a CO2 and heat source that draw the mosquito in and away from you. Standard candles and torches with no citronella will accomplish the same feat.
Electronic devices intended to drive away or lure and trap mosquitoes are no better value. Any device that claims to emit a sound wave that repels mosquitoes is an outright scam. There is no scientific evidence that mosquitoes are affected in any way by sound. Electronic “trapping” devices claim to use light and or smells to draw mosquitoes into a trap, thereby eliminating them. This method can indeed lure and trap mosquitoes, but the paradox here is that the bait may draw in and kill mosquitoes in your yard, but that same bait will draw mosquitoes from surrounding areas as well. It’s kind of like fighting on the battlefield and calling the enemy to bring more re-enforcements for you to fight.
With these myths exposed, lets look at some tried and true methods of getting rid of or at least repelling mosquitoes. The very first step in getting your mosquito problem under control is to eliminate their environment. Mosquitoes spend the first couple of weeks of life in water as they develop from the egg to an adult. Standing water, even a small amount, can quickly become a mosquito nursery. So, the very first thing to do is to eliminate all potential water retention around your house and property.
The more obvious locations to check for standing water include your rain gutters, old tires, cans and buckets and drains. Some of the not so obvious places to look for standing water are low laying areas of your yard, below outdoor water spigots, under air conditioners, even holes or depressions in a tree can hold enough water to create a mosquito kiddy pool. Be vigilant and search every inch of your yard for potential areas of standing water. If cleaning or moving the offending water trap are not an option, consider using a bacterial product that contains bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti. Sold as tablets or granules that are dropped in the water, the mosquito larvae will eat the bacteria, killing them in short order. The product is safe around pets, people and ornamental fish.
Another important factor in reducing mosquitoes is lighting. Because certain types of light attract mosquitoes, a typical 70-watt incandescent light bulb on the front porch can act as a beacon for bugs to your home. Try changing your porch lighting to soft fluorescent or even LED lighting. They produce light at a frequency that does not attract mosquitoes and they don’t produce enough heat to attract mosquitoes or most other flying insects for that matter.
Next time you’re spending some time on the patio, go ahead and light the torches for the ambiance, but breakout the fan for some real mosquito control. Mosquitoes require fairly calm air to fly. Add a breeze of only 2 or 3 mph and you will have effectively created a no-fly zone for mosquitoes. An oscillating pedestal fan should be enough to disrupt the airflow sufficiently to keep those little flying pests away.
Maintaining a barrier between you and the mosquito is probably the best way to avoid an irritating mosquito bite. Screens in windows and doors are a very effective deterrent to mosquitoes. If you have tears or rips in your screens, either repair them or replace them. Installing a screen door between the garage and the house is also a good idea. If you are going to be outdoors and no other barrier will be available, wear clothing that is on the thick side. The Mosquitoes probiscus, the part they use to inject into your skin, is generally not long enough to penetrate heavier clothing.
Another barrier you can put between you and the little bloodsuckers is mosquito repellant. Most common mosquito repellants have DEET as the primary ingredient. Though this is a chemical deterrent, it has been found safe by the CDC and EPA for human use and has no ill or side effects in humans. If you prefer a more natural, non-chemical type of repellant, try using lemon eucalyptus oil instead. It is said to be just as effective as DEET.
We will never be totally rid of mosquitoes. With their high proliferation and staggeringly huge populations, global eradication is neither financially nor practically feasible. Mosquitoes were here seventy some million years before us and they will probably be here long after we are gone. But for now, we rule the world and there is no place in our homes for mosquitoes.
About Ron Warner
I have never been satisfied with things as they are. Yes I suffer from the "Grass is Greener Syndrome". I have been a ditch digger and the GM of a mortgage company. I have worked as a fry cook, Branch Manager for a major Stock Brokerage firm, a roofer, a car salesman, an IT Network Admin, a landscaper, a radio DJ and the list goes on. 30 years of exposure to such a variety of professions and vocations has given me a wealth of knowledge and a unique insight of the world around us. My family and I have enjoyed the savings I have experienced by being able to do many things for myself rather than needing to hire someone else to do the job. True, some may refer to me as a job hopper. But how many computer geeks can roof their house? What does a car salesman know about investing? Know any Stock Brokers who can change a water heater? Yeah, I did not think so. Yes, Life has been good so far.