Angie's List | How to Prevent Mosquitoes

For homeowner Jerry McVeigh, living on a wooded lot with a pond and a lake, he has seen his fair share of mosquitoes. So McVeigh hired a professional mosquito control company to treat his yard regularly.

Jerry says, "We tried everything: foggers, all the different coils. You name it, we tried it. And a lot of other people I'm sure understand this – we were so sensitive about strong chemicals because of what's going on with the wildlife."

Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance when you're out trying to have a family barbecue, but they are also a health risk. Mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases including West Nile virus and malaria, and can expose dogs to heartworm.

With a little preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can gain the upper hand on mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupa and adult and all but the last stage occur in water. Without water, mosquitoes can reproduce.

Mosquito Control Contractor Ken Frost says, "There are many places around a homeowner's property where they can look for sources of standing water. The thing is we are only looking for a very small amount of water. In fact, it only takes a soda bottle cap full of water to breed several hundred mosquitoes."

"A mosquito like anything else has to eat to live so our target areas are a plant's leaves. On the bottom side of the leaf you'll see there are plant nectar veins, that is what the mosquitoes are after so when we apply our product to the foliage with our backpack sprayer it sticks to the underside of the leaf, dries in the foliage and when the mosquito comes to feed on that, it kills them off," Ken explains.

The good news is you don't have to run for cover every time the sun goes down. With a little preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can gain the upper hand on mosquitoes.

Angie Hicks says, "As a homeowner there are many things you can do to protect your family from mosquitoes. The best defense is getting rid of water. Be conscious of any kind of water that is standing in your yard – bird baths, kid's swimming pools, even gutters can have some standing water. Anywhere there is standing water for a period of time, it's a breeding ground for mosquitoes."

Angie's List Tips: How to eliminate standing water

  • Empty water from bird baths, flower pot saucers, pet dishes, old tires, unused swimming pools, fence posts, and other items that collect and hold water.
  • Make sure rain barrels are covered.
  • Keep gutters cleaned. Clogged gutters or gutters that don't drain properly are common breeding sites.

Angie's List Tips: Mosquito prevention

  • Trim back vegetation: Mosquitoes feast on plant nectar when they aren't prowling for blood, so they spend a lot of time in tall grasses or around shrubs and bushes. Trim vegetation near the home and keep lawns mowed.
  • Use mosquito-repelling plants: Several types of plants act as a natural mosquito repellent. For example, the citronella smell used in mosquito-repelling candles is derived from the citronella plant, a grass that can be grown in climates where it doesn't freeze or raised in a pot in colder climates. Mosquitoes also avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.
  • Remove yard debris: Be aware of areas where debris collects in the yard, such as grass clippings and piles of leaves.

"If you tackled every effort you can as a homeowner you might need to hire a professional. Having someone come in you need to talk to them exactly about their experience in treating mosquitoes and then also ask what kind of chemicals and treatments they are going to use especially if you have children or pets," advises Angie.

Mosquito Contractor Ken Frost says, "When we come to a property, we come in with a backpack sprayer and a tank that has the product in it that we mixed. It is a plant-based product made with chrysanthemum plants. The operator carries it around and treats the foliage and that particular application will last the homeowner 21 days."

If prevention doesn't produce adequate results, professional mosquito control companies provide barrier spray treatments that kill adult mosquitoes, and larvicides that kill mosquitoes in the larvae stage.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring professional mosquito control

  • Ask about chemicals: If you have pets or children, ask which insecticides will be used in the treatment. Ask to see the label of the product.
  • Are you licensed? In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator's license before making a hiring decision.
  • What is the application schedule: How often will the company come out? Most mosquito control companies offer plans where a technician applies a one-time treatment or comes out several times a year. Some homeowners will schedule a single
    • treatment before an outdoor event such as a wedding or party.
    • Read the contract before signing: All details should be clearly stated in a contract before you sign the dotted line, including whether the company offers a guarantee.

    Homeowner Jerry McVeigh was pleased with the results he got  from hiring someone to spray his yard. He says, "We can go out now with the children and grandchildren and be out in the evening, walk around anywhere, go down to the lake and fish."

    Several types of plants also act as a natural mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.


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