June Pest - Mosquitoes
Keith Jarvi, University of Nebraska Extension, tells us of a common summer pest, and adds a few insights of his own!
It’s raining again and since “no good deed goes unpunished” or something like that, we know that with moisture comes standing water, and with standing water comes mosquitos. We can go on and on about mosquito species, life cycles, etc., but bottom line is most people want to know how to avoid having these pests ruining their camping, barbeque, and other summer outdoor pursuits. As usual, there is an outstanding compilation of mosquito resources available at Barb Ogg’s Lancaster county website. Just scroll down until you see Flies, Gnats, and Mosquitos. Here are some highlights...
Mosquitos need water to complete their life cycle so the best way to minimize problems is to eliminate as much standing water as possible. Anything that can hold water for over a week has the potential to breed mosquitos. Old tires are especially good at catching and holding water, but some places you may not think of, like clogged rain gutters, water barrels, and old cans are also prime breeding sites. Photo of young mosquito wigglers in water to the left. Take time to scout around your property to locate and get rid of these potential sites. If you have areas that you cannot drain, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) biscuits can be purchased at most local hardware stores. These slowly release a natural larvae-killing pesticide that is totally safe for pets, birds, and humans. Photo below, right, of Bt biscuits.
Unfortunately mosquitos can fly, so they can come into your area despite your best prevention effort. Wearing long pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a hat can reduce bites, but most people don’t want to wear many clothes in the heat of summer. You can even get clothing impregnated (I like using big words) with insecticide from some outdoor clothing retailers. Most people opt to use repellants when going into mosquito-infested areas, and anything with DEET in it is hard to beat. Be aware that many products contain DEET, and it can be in many concentrations, up to 25% or even higher in some products. Higher concentration may cause problems for sensitive people and children. Some people and even some research suggest that Avon Skin-So-Soft helps repel mosquitos.
Many of our mosquito species like to bite during twilight hours, and rest in nearby vegetation during the hotter part of the day. You can spray bushes, hedges, and other mosquito resting areas during the day to knock down the numbers. Many products are available (Sevin and many pyrethroids are most common) and should be effective. Do not apply any of these products directly on your skin or clothing. Be careful and follow the label when using any pesticide.
While fun to use and sometimes highly entertaining, here are a few items that don’t really help. Sonic devices do not repel any pests of any kind, but instead attract gullible customers who believe anything they see on television and social media.
Since female mosquitos (the only sex that bites since they need the blood for their eggs to develop) are honing in primarily on the carbon dioxide that you are exhaling, ultraviolet bug-zapping light traps will not reduce mosquito numbers, unless the skeets have bitten a particularly inebriated individual who accidentally crashes into the light. Ultraviolet lights, however, are entertaining as mini-fireworks occur when dozens of non-biting insects that are attracted to the light explode into little fragments. Holding your breath to eliminate the carbon dioxide will only work until you pass out.
I’m not sold on citronella candles and other incense-type products as I don’t think you need to wander too far away from them for them to lose their influence, even if they might repel insects slightly - I think it’s just the smoke. Remember that just because you see something on the internet, in chat rooms, or TV doesn’t mean it works. Try them if you want.
For much more useful information, be sure to go to Barb’s page. Have a great summer!