A Safer Way To Treat Mosquitoes
Excerpted from: How To Safely Get Rid Of Mosquitoes
Excerpted from: Spring Into Action Against Mosquitoes
Excerpted from: Xerces Mosquito Management
As we count down the days until mosquitoes arrive, we’re counting down the top reasons not to spray adult mosquitos at home.
With warming temperatures comes the drone of mosquitoes in our parks and yards and the
battle begins to reclaim picnics, backyards and outdoor activities. At best, mosquitoes can
be a significant nuisance, with nonstop biting and droning keeping us from enjoying the outdoors.
In some cases, some mosquito species can vector diseases that impact humans and livestock.
We encourage you to not spray for mosquitoes. There are more effective, safer methods to control
these pesky pests!
Mosquito sprays can harm beneficial insects, like this green lacewing larva busy eating an aphid.
Contaminated flowers can still be toxic the next day for foraging bees, and butterfly larvae can be
exposed even if spray happens early or late in the day.
1. Mosquito sprays are toxic to all the cool beneficial insects you are attracting to your yard.
Mosquito control companies tend to use a class of insecticides called pyrethroids, which are
broadly toxic to insects. This includes our almost 4,000 species of native bees found in the US
as well as butterflies and moths, fireflies, and beneficial insects like lady beetles and dragonflies.
2. Confusing pesticide messaging understates the actual risks of the pesticides.
Pest control companies often use messages that could miscommunicate the actual level of risk.
Messages such as the chemicals are natural and derived from flowers,
the pesticide dries and is therefore safe or the pesticide is non-toxic.
3. Eliminating standing water is a more effective solution.
Mosquito larvae need water to survive. It’s easier to remove water to prevent mosquitoes from
breeding than trying to kill flying adults, and larval mosquitoes don’t transmit disease.
4. Mosquito sprays don’t really get rid of mosquitoes.
Home mosquito sprays are not effective as long term control measures. They only target adult
mosquitoes, and given how quickly these insects reproduce, this won’t put a big dent in the
overall population. .
5. Eliminating standing water is a more effective solution.
At the neighborhood level, talk to your neighbors about mosquito management and eliminating
standing water as a solution. A whole neighborhood of people practicing common-sense mosquito
management will have a much larger impact than just one yard.
Mosquito pupae and larvae.
Fortunately, there’s a much more effective way to reduce your itchy bites this summer and protect
pollinators in your yard. Most important is to focus on eliminating areas where mosquitoes
The most important way to do this is to eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes need
water to reproduce; adults lay their eggs in still water, where they hatch and the larvae feed on
After the mosquitoes pupate, adults take flight and leave the water. This entire process takes only
8 to 10 days. Mosquitos only need 1 inch of water to reproduce, so water that stands around for
just over 1 week can lead to a population explosion.
Look around your yard
Dump water from buckets and trash cans, and look for hidden flower pots that may have filled with
rain over the winter and spring.
Clogged gutters can be a surprise source of standing water for mosquitoes, so ensure they are free
Finally, every few days, dump and refill water sources like pet bowls and bird baths to prevent any
mosquito larvae from completing their life cycle.
For bodies of standing water that can’t be drained, try using a Bti product. Bti is a bacterium
that specifically targets mosquito larvae without affecting other organisms. When the larvae ingest the Bti,
it kills them within minutes.
You can find Bti products in garden stores. They come in many forms, including tablets, granules, pellets
and liquids. Follow the directions on the product regarding frequency of application.
Placing whiskey barrel planters with plants that repel mosquitoes in strategic locations was a method
that can be used to reduce the number of mosquitoes.
Plant bee balm, marigolds, spotted geraniums, lavender, sweet fern and citronella around
the edge of the barrels, with cherry tomatoes and basil in the middle. It’s not enough to plant mosquito-repellent
species, but you have to activate them. When people pick the tomatoes or herbs, they brush the other plants,
which then give off chemicals that interfere with the mosquitoes’ ability to navigate and find prey. Suitable options
may also include rosemary, peppermint, catnip, garlic and sage.
Investigate which birds in your region eat mosquitoes and are willing to nest in bird boxes and then learn how to
attract them. Both tree swallows and Eastern bluebirds are voracious insect eaters. The best news is once you
build the infrastructure, it needs little maintenance.
Bats are also voracious insect eaters and you can install bat houses to increase the number of those mosquito-hungry
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