Ask the Expert: 8 Places Where Mosquitoes Might Be Hiding in Your Yard! (And How to Keep Them Out)
Our expert series is a great place to pick up tips from the pros, and this one is particularly relevant, as we all start to move outside. So far, all the cases of Zika in the United States have been travel related. But as the temperature rises, fears that the mosquito-born disease will gain traction in the country are rising with it--especially in states like Texas and South Carolina who have had flood events in the past year. So what can you do to keep your yard and your family mosquito-free this summer?
We checked in with Ron Harrison, an entomologist at Orkin, to see what you can do about preventing mosquitos in your yard.
Where Mosquitos Breed
Female mosquitoes can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time. They can lay eggs in just a few inches of standing water, making pinpointing breeding sites a challenge. Here are eight places mosquitoes like the most and how you can help keep them out of the yard:
- Gutters– If enough debris is left to collect over time, dirty gutters can clog up and create pockets of water perfect for mosquito breeding. Cleaning gutters regularly to make sure water is flowing smoothly will help keep mosquitoes from breeding so close to your home.
- Toys – They are an often overlooked source of standing water, but toys can collect pockets of water and just a few inches is enough for a mosquito to raise a (large) family.
- Flower pots – Rainwater can collect in saucers under flower pots. If left to sit for days, the water becomes an excellent breeding spot for mosquitoes.
- Bird baths – Even though birds eat a variety of insects, standing water in bird baths can become an oasis for female mosquitoes looking for a place to lay eggs. When the water in bird baths is left unchecked for days at a time, it can quickly become a mosquito hot spot. Inspect and change the water in yours weekly to avoid an infestation.
- Rain barrels – If water is used within a few days, it will likely not be enough time to create a mosquito problem. But if the water is left still for multiple days, be prepared to find a hotbed of hungry pests.
- Plants – Some plants can hold water in their “mouth” and offer mosquitoes enough standing water to lay their eggs. Other shrubbery can serve as a hide-out for grown mosquitoes. That’s because, in addition to blood, mosquitoes also feed on nectar from flowers, so they often hide out in shrubbery during the day. Thinning dense shrubbery can help reduce the number of adult mosquitoes in the yard by increasing air flow through the plant
- Cavities in trees – Each year, cavities in tree stumps and trunks are filled with water by rainfall or melting ice and snow. Because mosquitoes do not need much water to breed, they may choose these holes to lay eggs. While it can be difficult to remove the standing water, a licensed professional can help identify and treat these areas in the yard.
- Low points in the yard – Any areas that are lower than the rest of your yard may collect and hold standing water. Make note of these areas when patrolling and make sure to inspect and drain them if necessary.
Take Back Your Yard
What can you do? It’s important to do a weekly inspection of the entire yard to locate and eliminate any standing water and breeding places. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time; just take a walk around your property and look for the locations mentioned above. Also, it’s a good idea to encourage your neighbors to do the same so that mosquitoes aren’t traveling from their yard to yours.
Ron Harrison, Ph.D is a entomologist at Orkin.