Mosquitoes are a pain, but we usually just shrug them off. We're Texans, after all. We're not going to let little nuisance pests bother us. But mosquitoes are not a pest problem we should ignore. In 2012, West Nile virus was linked to the deaths of more than 89 people, with an estimated 1,024 cases reported. And, while 1,024 may not seem like a lot in a state with over 28 million residents, those are just the cases that were reported. Many of us suffer from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses without even knowing it. We commonly mistake these viruses for the flu or a cold and tough it out. But is toughing it out the best course of action? Here are some things you can do to limit your exposure to mosquitoes throughout the year.
Let's start with the coldest season of the year. There isn't a lot you need to do about preventing mosquito bites during the winter. These insects are dormant in the cold months. But there are some things you can do to prepare your yard to be resistant to mosquitoes in the spring.
Remove objects from your yard that collect water. It only takes a half a cup of stagnant water for mosquitoes to reproduce. If you have objects in your yard that can collect a little rainwater, it is best to store them away before spring.
Resist water collection. If there are objects you can't remove, consider protecting those items with a tarp that channels water to the soil where it can sink in or be dried up by the sun.
When it warms up, mosquitoes are going to become active in your yard. To prevent them from being active in your home, make sure all of your screens are in good working condition and that doors and windows that do not have screens are not left open.
Address moisture conditions in your yard by fixing leaky spigots, hoses, and plumbing. Inspect gutters and downspouts to make sure water isn't being obstructed by leaves. Mosquitoes will use an obstructed gutter to breed. Also, keep leaves and organic debris raked up in your yard, to reduce moisture.
Consider turning kiddie pools over when your kids aren't using them. Mosquitoes take 24 to 48 hours to hatch from eggs laid in stagnant water.
Consider planting plants that repel mosquitoes. This won't keep mosquitoes out of your yard during mosquito season, but it will reduce them. Citronella grass, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, catnip, sage, basil, marigolds, rosemary, and scented geraniums are all good for warding off mosquitoes
Spring, Summer, and Fall
In spring, summer, and fall, when mosquitoes are active in your yard, it is important to take steps to reduce bites. Here are some tips that will help:
Mosquito repellent is the number one way to avoid bites. Apply it to skin or clothing. Products with 100% DEET are most effective. Use oil of lemon eucalyptus for a natural mosquito repellent option.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to give mosquitoes less skin to bite.
Wear bright colors to make it harder for mosquitoes to lock onto you.
Be aware that drinking alcohol can make you more attractive to mosquitoes.
Be aware that mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.
Be aware that mosquitoes are more plentiful in areas that are moist and shaded, such as forests.
If you'll be in your backyard, consider using fans to keep mosquitoes off of you.
If you have bug zappers, be aware that they are effective at luring mosquitoes onto your property but are only effective at killing male (non-biting) mosquitoes.
The Role Pest Control Plays
There is only one way to effectively reduce mosquitoes to zero or near zero in a yard, and that is by investing in mosquito control services. A professional uses a mixture of breeding site management, applied larvicides, and mist treatments to stop mosquito production. This may be a one-time service in preparation for a wedding, graduation, family reunion, or some other outdoor event, or it may be seasonal service that works all year to reduce mosquitoes.
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