As we move along into our warmer days, a concern with recent rain is the accumulation of standing water. Concerns about mosquito-borne diseases this spring are prompting many of us to learn what to do to reduce the chances of mosquito bites in our own backyards and gardens. Fortunately, there are good ways to manage mosquitoes around your home at reasonable cost.
Destroy or treat mosquito breeding sites. The first step in any mosquito control effort is to find and eliminate the mosquito breeding sites from your backyard. The most common biting mosquitoes in Texas, and the ones most likely to carry viruses, are not strong fliers. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) both tend to live and bite within 200 to 300 yards of their breeding sites. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, especially if it stands for at least 7 days. Adult mosquitoes lay their eggs near the standing water, and their young (larvae) develop in the water before emerging to bite. Because these mosquito larvae feed on bacteria and other microorganisms, the water must be stagnant and contain some organic matter such as leaves, soil, bird droppings, or grass clippings. For this reason, mosquitoes usually do not breed in running streams or maintained swimming pools; however, birdbaths, old tires, and clogged gutters make excellent mosquito breeding sites. You can destroy many breeding sites by draining, dumping, or filling them. Dump water from buckets, flowerpot dishes, tarps, and wheelbarrows. If possible, turn over or cover them so they can’t catch more water. Fill holes or low areas with sand or gravel and seal tree holes with expanding foam. For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.
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Article by Dr. Mario A. Villarino, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Hopkins County, Texas.