Killing the Mosquitos – Interrupting the Life Cycle
First, let’s learn how to kill the mosquitos, then we will talk about how to repel whatever spartan-like mosquitos that happened to survive. Implement these solutions and you’ll be enjoying pool time again shortly.
A mosquito grows through four stages throughout its lifespan. During the first three stages, they live on and in water. They are also easier to kill and unable to fly or suck your blood. If mosquitos are a recurring problem, the best way to prevent them is to intervene sometime during those first three stages.
Those pesky mosquitoes start as eggs that are placed upon still watery surfaces such as swamplands, birdbaths, a discarded pot, or some other object that’s collected water. If it is still wintertime, the mosquito eggs can essentially hibernate for long periods. When spring rolls around and temperatures rise, the eggs will hatch into larva, the larva will grow into a pupa, and the pupa will grow into the adult bloodsuckers that we know and love.
Mosquitos typically have extremely short lifespans of 7 roughly days, but it can vary depending on the species. Within the united states, you are typically dealing with one of three types of mosquitoes:
- Aedes: 14 to 30 Days
- Culex: 7 Days
- Anopheles: 14 Days
These short lifespans mean that your proactive mosquito murdering-spree will show results very quickly. During the first week or two, you can use the repellent solutions to attain a bit of comfort while you wait for the mosquito sterilization to show its results.
Stage One, Two, and Three Solutions
Destroying Breeding Grounds
There is an average of 70 million mosquitoes per square mile, so swatting one at a time with a bug zapper just isn’t going to cut it. Thankfully, you don’t need to deal with all of those 70 million mosquitos. While some breeds can fly for miles, many will not fly more than 100 to 300 feet from where they are born. That means that controlling the conditions of your patch of ground will typically go a long way in eliminating any mosquito issues.
City Sewer Drains
One of the greatest sources of mosquitos come from the city sewer system. They breed in the dirty water and then fly out through the drains when they are grown. It isn’t legal for you or pest control services to treat city drains. However, you can call the city and have them treat the sewer with an insect growth regulator (IGR), so the eggs never have a chance to hatch.
Remove and Bleach Sources Standing Water
Scout around your property and look for anything that can hold water. Mosquitos aren’t picky. Look for five-gallon buckets, children’s toys, a swampy part of the grass. Any place that holds moisture for extended periods should be suspect. The more you remove, the less problematic those mosquitos become.
Bleach is toxic to living creatures, and that includes your grass and plants. However, as you know as a pool owner, it evaporates quickly. You can use it to sterilize pools of water that might contain mosquito larva. Just be careful not to kill anything that you don’t want to kill. The recommendation is to stick to a ratio of 1 tablespoon of bleach for every 50 gallons of water. Here’s a quick reference chart to make the bleach a bit easier to estimate:
- 1 Tablespoon to 50 Gallons
- ½ Tablespoon to 25 Gallons
- 1 Teaspoon to 16.67 Gallons
- ¼ Teaspoon to 4.17 Gallons
- ⅛ Teaspoon to 2.08 Gallons
Larvicides (Bleach Alternatives)
If you don’t mind spending a small amount of money, there are healthier and extremely effective alternatives to bleach that won’t be a potential danger to other living creatures. They are even safe enough to add to non-chlorinated pools…but that doesn’t mean that you should drink it. Larvacides can be perfect for areas such as fish ponds where you want to take extra care not to hurt anything.
Rake Your Leaves
Not only do piles of leaves and needles look grimy, but they turn into smelly mosquito-infested piles of slime.
Lawn Maintenance – Remove Ruts, Cut the Grass, Don’t Overwater the Lawn
Don’t overwater your lawn and mow it often. Tall grasses with damp soil can become infested with mosquitos. As far as mosquito prevention goes, the shorter the grass the better.
Some yards have depressions or ruts, and water can pool in those areas. It takes some physical effort, but it isn’t ultimately that difficult to fill up one of those spots. Here’s a link to a guide that you can use if you have some undesirable ruts that you wish to remove.
Clean Your Gutters
Gutters can get clogged very quickly in some areas of the country. Clean them often so the water can keep flowing.
You should maintain your pool even if you don’t have a mosquito problem. As long as the water is filtering and your pool chemistry is maintained, mosquitoes shouldn’t breed in its waters.
Check Your Septic Tank
According to the CDC, septic tanks are a major source of mosquito problems. Thousands of mosquitos can hatch and fly out of a single septic tank every day.
- Never leave a septic tank unsealed
- Use a screen to cover ventilation pipes
- Check the septic tank’s surfaces for cracks.
Stage Four Solutions
While killing the mosquitos before they develop into adults is by far the best way to eliminate the majority of a scourge, there will be survivors and traveling nomad mosquitos that need to be repelled or killed.
There are some well-working traps in the $40 range that have nearly perfect 5 out of 5 ratings. Mosquitos have well-developed senses that can detect well over 300 odors produced by human skin and they appear to be able to sense heat. They can also just use their eyes.
Mosquito traps generally attract the mosquitoes via light and by releasing carbon dioxide and mimicking a similar warmth of a warm-blooded animal.
Mosquito Mister Systems
Over here in Florida, you’ll occasionally see a truck run through the streets that spray mosquito-killing pesticides into the air. Now, I’m not saying it’s healthy to breathe those pesticides into your lungs, but according to the CDC, they are considered safe. They do a great job too. I’ve lived in Kissimmee, next to a swamp, for roughly two years, and I can’t recall ever seeing a mosquito. The periodic mistings do get the job done.
Using a similar approach, if you have money to burn and really hate mosquitos, you can declare war and install a misting system. These expensive defense systems will cost you around $2,000, but they will annihilate most people’s mosquito problems. It’s going to be overkill for most people, but it might be worth it in some for some people in the southern states.
Quick Warning – The Environmental Protection Agency assessed a lot of the pesticides that are commonly used in these mister systems. They concluded that the risks of the expected amount of exposure weighed against the pesticides’ toxicity added up to negligible risk. They didn’t test them all, and we don’t know how complete the study was.
Adulticides can be very effective solutions which is why so many pest management companies turn to them. Adulticides come in coils, foggers, and sprays or aerosols. Some of them can be used indoors, but most are going to be made for outside use only.
Like us, mosquitoes need the occasional rest. When they do, they look for dark and damp locations. Those are the places where you will want to make your attack. According to the CVC, here are some of the more common places where mosquitoes like to hide.
Indoors: Sinks, Closets, laundry room, bathroom, behind furniture
Outdoors: Under the shade of bushes, leaves, plants, decks, porches, and the eaves of buildings, within dense brush, and other moist shady areas.
It’s a “classic” solution. However, in my experience, I think citronella candles contain more hype than an actual effect, and this article by Science Magazine seems to largely agree with me. It references a study that found the candles to be ineffective
Deet and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus Sprays
In that same study, the scientists found that the more effective solution can be found in the deet and oil of lemon eucalyptus sprays. The mosquitos were 60% less likely to be attracted to a spot when the spray was applied within a meter of space.
Pool enclosures work fantastically well in keeping mosquitoes away from your pool which is one reason why they are installed around 99% of the Floridian pools. They are very spendy solutions, but they’ll eliminate many problems that people have with their pools. Do you have ducks that keep swimming, introducing potential diseases, and dirtying up the water? This will put a stop to it. Do windy days bring in debris? Not anymore. Have you ever had any alligators wander into your backyard? Now, they’ll have a much harder time.
While not as fancy as an enclosure, it will get the job done.
There are a couple of natural predators of mosquitoes that you can add to your backyard’s ecosystem to chomp down on the mosquito population.
Mosquito Fish (gambezi or Gambusia Affinis)
When an animal gets named for its ability to eat a specific prey, you know it has to be pretty good at it. It was considered to be a major factor in largely eliminating malaria in South America, so it is a gold-medal winner in the mosquito-eating department.
If you maintain a small pond in your backyard, you should seriously consider adding these little fish. Not only will they eat up any mosquito larva, but they’ll clean up algae and eat other pesky insects as well. It’s a low-hassle fish that makes pond upkeep just a bit easier.
Quick Warning – Mosquito fish are considered semi-aggressive and do not get along with every species. They can be somewhat of an invasive species if added to the wrong environment. Because of this, mosquito fish are regulated in some places. In others, such as certain areas of California, vector control agencies will actually give these fish away for free.
Dragonflies are water-based predators and a single dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitos in a single day. If you have a pond or a water feature, dragonflies could be a great solution for you. While dragonflies find a water-source very desirable, it isn’t absolutely necessary. Dragonflies commonly fly several miles from water sources.
If you can get a handful of dragonflies to call your backyard home, and your mosquito problem will not be a problem. The one downside to this solution is that you can’t buy them from the store like a bag of ladybugs. Instead, you must attract them by creating the ideal environment.
The water is a great start, but you’ll want to add a few specific plants into the mix. They add places of rest and reproduction. Depending on your landscaping situation, you will want to pick plants from one of these two lists:
|Dry Landscape||Wet Landscape|
|Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)||Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)|
|Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)||Cattail (Typha latifolia)|
|Meadow Sage (Salvia marcus)||Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile)|
|Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)||Water Lily|
|White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)||Wild Celery (Vallisneria americana)|
Admittedly, we don’t have a lot of faith in this one. If the concentrated smells in the candles have mixed results, we don’t expect that the less concentrated natural scents will be very useful. Still, it is probably worth a test, so here is the list of you want to give it a shot. If it works for you, please let us know. We can update this page and help the rest of our mosquito-bitten readers.
- Lemon Balm
It isn’t a permanent solution, but it actually works really well. The breeze of a large fan is like hurricane weather to a small low-mass mosquito. Place one of those near the group and those mosquitoes will have a very difficult time getting near you.
When splashing around the pool, be careful with which insect repellent you use. As with pretty much all medical advice, there are people that both promote and discourage pretty much every product on the market.
DEET might just be the most effective mosquito repellent on the market. However, you may have noticed that there are a lot of products that say DEET-free. While many studies have determined that DEET is safe, there are others that also deem it dangerous and potentially linked to tumor growth.
Those studies have also found that DEET stays around after it has been used, and it does find its way into the bloodstream of its users. This happens from breathing, skin absorption, and your drinking water. In our opinions, it’s probably just best to avoid it.
Additionally, DEET is actually a harsh solvent that can break down paint and plastics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DEET concentrations shouldn’t exceed 30 to 50%. DEET insect repellent sprays have concentrations of 100%
There are a lot of neurological conditions that have been linked to its use. Through our research, we’ve seen claims of memory loss, headaches, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath.
According to a report from Science Daily, “We’ve found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, in both insects and mammals.”
There is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that
Mosquitos are annoying and can carry life threatening diseases such as West Nile Virus and the Zika Virus. The danger largely depends on the species of mosquito. Even if the mosquitoes around you aren’t dangerous, nobody wants to be bitten or have their blood sucked out of them.
Mosquitoes are attracted to water and animals upon which to feed. That makes humans enjoying their pool a perfect habitat.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked together to create a best practices for municipalities working on mosquito control
They advise organizations to take an approach they call “Integrated Pest Management,” which includes removing mosquito habitats, controlling mosquitoes at all life cycle stages, and using structural barriers.