Reducing Mosquito Populations

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
en Español / em Português

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Mosquitoes are important pests because their irritating bites often interfere with outdoor activities and can transmit the disease to people and domestic animals. I lost a good friend a few years ago to complications from West Nile Virus as a result of a mosquito bite.

Most mosquitoes are active during twilight hours and at night. Around our homes, the mosquitoes that breed in standing, stagnant water can be active during the day. Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle.

Some mosquito species, such as the Asian tiger mosquito, may only fly short distances, other species can fly several miles. Because of this, efforts by individuals to control mosquitoes on their property often have limited success. While pesticides are often seen as a quick solution to a mosquito problem, they are only a short-term solution and should be a small component of an integrated mosquito management approach.
To really be effective, a community-wide effort is needed to “clean up” and (preferably) eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Around your home and neighborhood, natural tree holes, man-made objects such as birdbaths, boats, canoes, discarded tires, and plant pots collect rainwater and allow mosquitoes to breed literally right in our own backyard. I have also decided in my own yard that mosquitoes may be breeding in the ribbed extensions I have on my downspouts. I have thought about connecting the downspouts to underground drainage or covering the ends with some type of material to keep the mosquitoes out.

Here are a few tips from NC State Extension that you can use to help reduce mosquito populations:

  1. “Tip and Toss” – empty or get rid of containers, old tires, etc. that can hold stagnating water.
  2. Cover rain barrels with screening to keep out debris and mosquitoes.
  3. Dump excess water from dishes under outdoor flower pots.
  4. Flush the water out of bird baths at least twice weekly.
  5. Store boats, canoes and other objects so that they do not collect rainwater. Remove water that collects in depressions in boat covers or tarps.
  6. Cover or drain unused swimming pools.
  7. Keep rain gutters free of leaves and other debris that prevent water from draining.
  8. Correct drainage problems in your yard that allow rainwater to pool in low-lying areas.
  9. Fill tree holes with expandable foam to keep them from being used as breeding sites by mosquitoes.
  10. Remove debris, or report drainage problems to public agencies in drainage ditches and culverts along private or public roadways.

Join the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers at the Teaching Garden at the Union County Agriculture Center for Ask a Master Gardener on Saturday, May 25, 9 -11 a.m. Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Jessica Orlowski, will be leading a discussion on Wild Edibles & Medicinals.