Mosquitoes can ruin a lot of fun, making summer picnics, backyard barbecues, evening strolls, and other outdoor activities a biting frenzy. These pesky little creatures will silently torment you from dawn to dusk, making you reconsider going outdoors. Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years; so unfortunately, folks, they are here to stay.
There are roughly 3,600 species of mosquitoes and over 50 of them can be found right here in sunny California. These insects are part of the gnat family and are known to be the deadliest in the world. They can carry and transmit several bloodborne diseases including malaria, West Nile, yellow fever, and Zika (just to name a few) which kill nearly a million people globally each year. They are also responsible for transmitting heartworms to our canine and feline friends.
Did you know that only female mosquito’s bite? Blood provides a protein that is required to produce eggs. Once they are ready to lay their eggs, they will seek a water source, whether big or small, to lay 100-200 eggs each time. The eggs are resilient and can survive even in cold water throughout the winter season, hatching as warm weather approaches.
We may think these gnats seem quite pointless and annoying, but they do play a significant part in our ecosystem. They are a link in our food chain, providing food to fish, birds, bats, and amphibians. Some species are even important pollinators! “Say what?” I know, we still don’t like them either.
Although public mosquito vectors can monitor and treat areas such as waterways and canals, it is up to residents to proactively eliminate breeding sources around the home. Here are some suggestions on how to decrease the breeding sites around your yard and some control methods you can try to keep them away.
Look for stagnant water: this is especially important to do after a rain shower. Dump any standing water that may accumulate in pots and planters, old tires, tarps, toys, open containers, bird baths, fountains, small pools, ponds, and anything else that can potentially hold water.
Inspect gutters: clogged gutters can increase the chance of stagnant water. Remove any built-up debris and inspect down spout extensions.
Purchase mosquito repellent: such as candles that contain citronella, outdoor bug sprays, or foggers. You can find these items at most retailers; however, in most situations they only provide temporary relief, and some ingredients can be toxic if used incorrectly.
Helpful Tip: most species prefer to stay close to their breeding sites but can travel 1-3 miles to feed. Although you cannot control the condition of your neighbor’s yard, you can use these tips to help reduce these pests around your property. Some pesticide treatments can also help to relieve infestations as well, targeting shady foliage areas where they are likely to rest. Still, the best thing you can do as a resident is to monitor your property for those areas of water that welcome mosquitoes in for a place to call home.
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