Around the yard, any container that holds water should be turned upside down to prevent water accumulation, or removed and recycled. Birdbaths should be cleaned out regularly, at least once a week, and replenished with fresh water; this will prevent mosquito development.
To control their breeding, drain or flush the water weekly in wading pools, roof gutters, flowerpot saucers, and other spots where rain and irrigation water collect. Do a thorough outdoor mosquito habitat inspection. Overlooked sites often include pet dishes, plastic bags (found on the ground in trash collection areas or by compost storage sites), children’s toys, unused truck beds, boats, swimming pool covers, hollow tree stumps – look anywhere and everywhere. Even a single teaspoon of water can produce hundreds of biting mosquitoes.
Trim shrubbery and eliminate tall grass and weeds where adult mosquitoes hide during the day. Adult mosquitoes like thick vegetation. Keep shrubs trimmed. Keep ground covers, like ivy, cut short. If you rent your home, ask your landlord to keep the plants trimmed.
Used tires are significant breeding sites. Tires should be recycled and properly disposed of to prevent their becoming mosquito sources. Tire dumps should be reported to county officials and removed, so they do not become health hazards.
You cannot see in your rain gutters, so assume that there are puddles trapped up there. Mosquito larvicides can be tossed onto roofs so that they wash down into the gutters and control mosquito larvae there. These products are available at many area garden centers and plant nurseries.
Mosquitoes are easily invited into our homes, too. To prevent them indoors, keep window screens repaired and keep doors closed as much as possible. Screen doors should open outward and have automatic closing devices and latches to prevent them from being accidentally left open. Install door sweeps underneath the doors. When the light is turned on, mosquitoes will often hide in a dark area, like under the bed or behind the curtains. If a mosquito is in the house, you can kill it with a flyswatter or newspaper. You should not use pesticides indoors to control mosquitoes.
For personal protection (1) Wear light-colored clothing when outside, because dark colors attract mosquitoes. (2) Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are usually most active. (3) Wear a repellent containing DEET. Herbal repellents work for less than one hour.
If using citronella candles, orient them so that the breeze is directing the candle smoke toward you; the smoke is what repels mosquitoes. According to UGA entomologists, “mosquito” plants do not effectively repel mosquitoes and neither does garlic. They also say that ultrasonic devices and herbal bracelets do not repel mosquitoes.
Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar to provide energy for flight. However, only females seek blood meals to acquire nutrients needed to produce eggs. During blood feeding, females inject saliva to keep the blood from coagulating and aid ingestion. It is this saliva that causes the irritation and welt that is associated with mosquito bites. Most female mosquitoes seek a blood meal at dawn and dusk — avoid the heaviest feeding times by staying indoors.
Traps that use light and/or carbon dioxide to lure in mosquitoes may actually attract more mosquitoes than they kill. So, if you decide to use one of these, consider buying one and giving it to your neighbor down the street.
For severe infestations, hiring a professional pest control company with expertise in mosquito control is an option. Vector control personnel often treat breeding areas with a low-toxicity pesticide called Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). It is deadly to mosquito larvae yet harmless to people, pets, fish and wildlife.
Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the UGA Extension website, www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee ; or contact UGA Extension in Cherokee County, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 30114, 770-721-7803. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Follow Cherokee County Master Gardeners on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cherokeemastergardeners for gardening tips as well as upcoming seminars.