Keeping Mosquitoes Away From You and Your Yard
Mosquitoes are delicious food for fish and other aquatic creatures, but their buzzing and itchy bites make them a great annoyance to people. Mosquitoes can also carry a variety of diseases; so controlling them, especially by eliminating larvae development sites, should be a priority for everyone in our community.
The emergence of West Nile virus infections in humans (for more information, see inside) has focused public attention on mosquitoes. Fear may cause us to reach for a pesticide spray can, but this is most likely an ineffective control method. Small area applications of pesticide spray may reach relatively few mosquitoes, and if improperly used, they may harm beneficial insects. Residents can have a significant impact on the numbers of mosquitoes in urban areas. Follow the tips in this fact sheet to reduce mosquitoes in your yard.
The young (or larvae) of mosquitoes live in still or stagnate water and feed on microorganisms and organic matter. Just about any area or container that can hold water for three or more days can produce a large crop of mosquitoes. Only adult female mosquitoes bite humans and other animals to get the blood meal needed to produce their eggs.
The most effective way to control mosquitoes is to find and eliminate their breeding sites.
Eliminate standing water in containers around the homes, including water in cans, plastic containers, potted plant saucers, buckets, garbage cans, barrels, wheelbarrows, and any other container that holds water for more than a few days. Empty the water and then either: invert, cover, punch drainage holes in, or dispose of these containers.
Change water in birdbaths and pet water dishes at least once a week, preferable every 2 to 3 days.
Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers, and don’t over water your yard. Any standing water can produce mosquitoes if left for 3 or more days.
Recycle tires or store them so they do not collect water. Tires are extremely hard to drain, and each one can produce thousands of mosquitoes.
Keep roof gutters clean so water drains; otherwise mosquitoes can breed in the leaf and water mixture.
Don’t dump yard waste into street gutters, storm drains, or creeks. It can impede the flow of water and create stagnate pools, allowing mosquitoes to breed. The decaying organic matter then provides food for dense numbers of growing mosquito larvae.
Drain plastic wading pools, landscape water features or fountains when not in use, or cover tightly to deny access to mosquitoes. If the fountain is large enough, stock with fish or treat with larvicide (see below).
Keep swimming pools and hot tubs chlorinated and filtering. When not in use for extended periods, cover pools or tubs tightly, stock with fish or treat with larvicide (see below). Keep pool covers dry and free of stagnate water. One untended pool or hot tub can breed enough mosquitoes to affect a whole neighborhood.
Use native fish or mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) in backyard ponds or water gardens, watering troughs, and stock ponds. The distribution of non-native fish such as the mosquito fish requires a permit from the Idaho Fish and Game to prevent them from entering fish bearing waterways. Contact your local mosquito abatement district or the Idaho Department of Fish and Game related to this issue.
Contact your local mosquito and vector control district if you are aware of uncontrolled mosquito sources in your neighborhood, or if you need assistance with a mosquito problem on your property. Most district services are provided free of charge.
Install screens on windows and doors and keep them in good repair.
Certain species of mosquitoes are attracted to light, so keep outside lighting to a minimum near entry doors; keep those doors screened and closed.
Wear long sleeves and long pants when mosquitoes are biting. Learn the times of day when mosquitoes are most active in your area and avoid outdoor activity at those times.
Use insect repellents. Studies show the DEET-based repellents are the most effective. Don’t use a stronger or longer-lasting repellent than you need. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that repellents with a DEET concentration of 30% are safe for both children and adults, but that a concentration of 10% can be used on children if there is concern about potential risks and the threat of mosquitoborne disease is low.
Use a screen tent for outdoor eating (it will keep yellow jackets out too).
For more information, or to have this available in your home, download the full PDF.