Mosquitoes and the Changing Climate

Mosquitoes are predators. We are their prey. Yet, when we think about wild animals that pose a real threat to humans, we often forget about these little, blood-thirsty buggers. The truth is,  mosquitoes continue to kill more human beings than any other animal or insect¹, including other humans. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like mosquitoes are going away anytime soon. As our climate continues to change, the increasing threat of mosquito-borne illness is here to stay, but using pesticides or just getting bitten aren’t our only options. There is another way.

Getting to Know the Mosquitoes

Whether we like it or not, there are fewer and fewer places in America without thriving mosquito populations. Today, areas that were traditionally mosquito-free, like Los Angeles, have a regular mosquito population. You’ve likely had plenty of your own first-hand mosquito experiences, but there are a few things about mosquitoes that you may not know. 

Did you know that only female mosquitoes bite? Using the sharp tip of their proboscis (the elongated appendage from the mosquito’s head), female mosquitoes find a blood vessel, then suck out blood while injecting saliva that contains an anticoagulant. It is the anticoagulant that actually causes the itch, not the bite. If the mosquito is infected with a virus, they’ll pass it to their host through the saliva.

Climate Change is Cooking Up New Threats

Climate change is rearranging the landscape. Rising temperatures are creating more fertile mosquito habitat. Today, mosquitoes are populating higher and higher altitudes, and increasing the length of their active season. 

Mosquitoes, by nature, are great adapters, they thrive in a wide range of climates, and climate change is giving them more options than ever before.

Mosquito Borne Illness is Increasing

Zika and west nile have regularly made headlines over the past few years. West nile arrived in America in 2013 and zika in 2016. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, is known to carry dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya, as well as zika. The unfortunate truth is that the threat doesn’t stop there. 

There is an increasing risk of malaria in the United States. Mosquito-borne malaria still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year worldwide, and if the rise in viruses like zika and west nile has taught us anything, it’s that our global community isn’t nearly as far apart as it once seemed.

Looking for a Bite-Free Future

Thankfully, the future isn’t lined with mosquito bites. There is another way. With an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, you can actually take huge preventative steps to reduce mosquitoes, and all that comes with them.

Easy IPM mosquito prevention

  1. Remove any standing water from your yard weekly to prevent adults from laying eggs. (including birdbaths, kids toys, rain barrels and planters) 
  2. Clear gutters for any debris or standing water. Be sure to also clear any drain extenders or down spouts. 
  3. Make sure that any water features (including bird baths)  in your yard have moving water. Stagnant water is a mosquito breeding ground. 
  4. Keep grass mowed and landscape trimmed to reduce shade and moisture. 
  5. Don’t over water. Excessive water will create mosquito habitat. 
  6. Plant mosquito-repelling plants for added protection.
  7. Use native plants to attract birds that eat mosquitoes.

This is Bigger than Bug Spray

Whether we supplement our pest control with bug spray or not, the only way to truly keep mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects under control is to focus on the entire ecosystem. By building healthier backyards, we can limit our use of pesticides and help reduce our impacts on climate change.

At Sunday, we are here to grow a healthier world one backyard at a time. That’s why our pest control products are used as a last line of defense. We always recommend starting with an Integrated Pest Management approach. Proactive prevention and management is really the best solution to most problems. If pests persist, we offer a complete line of pest control products, like Mosquito Deleto that use better-for-the-planet ingredients to reduce mosquito threat with the smallest environmental impact possible. 

Change starts right in our own backyard, but that’s certainly not where it ends. As a 1% for the Planet Partner, Sunday supports organizations like The Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society who are both working to combat climate change by increasing natural habitat and protecting wildlife.