Mosquitoes

The weather is warming up, and with it comes backyard BBQs, lawn care (of course!) and….mosquitoes. We know those bites can be a pain (literally). Although most mosquitoes are simply a nuisance and not inherently harmful, several species’ bites can also transmit pathogens that cause human disease, making them a serious outdoor pest.

How to ID Mosquitoes

It’s easy to tell a mosquito apart from a crane fly or a non-biting midge when they’re feasting on your arm, but how can you really tell a mosquito is a mosquito? First of all, crane flies are quite a bit larger than mosquitoes and non-biting midges usually have very fuzzy antennae. You can also listen for soft buzzing or humming as a small and delicate fly-like bug approaches. Then look for a long needle-like mouthpart looking to actively feed. But hopefully, this ID doesn’t result in one of those painful and itchy red welts they tend to leave.

What Are the Most Common Mosquitoes in the US?

Two of the most common mosquitoes in the US are the Northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Northern house mosquitoes are less than 1/2″ long and brown.

 

Asian tiger mosquitoes are 1/2″ long and have black and white stripes on the body.

 

Why do these particular species matter? These are the most common mosquitoes you’ll find biting your skin and they’re located nationwide – essentially present and active in every region of the US. Plus, these are the mosquitoes you’ll likely be managing for using IPM strategies below and Sunday’s Mosquito Deleto.

Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

Although the stray mosquito might work it’s way into the house, mosquitoes are most common outdoors in yards and gardens across the US. Mosquitoes reproduce by laying eggs in or on water. You may notice small wriggling creatures in water that has been left out – those are mosquito larvae. Some need large pools of standing water, while others can breed in as little water as is found in a soda bottle cap. Most mosquitoes won’t venture more than a mile or two from their breeding sites, though some can travel several miles.

When Are Mosquitoes Active?

Well, it depends. Northern house mosquitoes will start biting when temps hit 61°F and these lil’ vampires are most hungry at dawn and dusk. Asian tiger mosquitoes start developing at 50°F – once they mature, they like to snack (on you) all throughout the day. 

Natural Pest Prevention and Reduction Practices

Mosquito control starts, well…at the beginning. The best way to prevent a heavy mosquito outbreak is to prevent successful mosquito growth and reproduction. 

Here’s how:  

  1. Dump any standing water around the yard about once a week to prevent adults from laying eggs and to remove any existing eggs and larvae. 
    1. We recommend refreshing your bird bath regularly, and checking your flower pots, gutters, tarps, rain barrels, and toys for puddles. 
    2. Don’t forget about drain extenders! Especially if they’re corrugated, meaning they have ripples or places for water to collect, aka water remains stagnant within the design. This is a perfect place for mosquitoes to breed.
  2. If you have water features in your yard like fountains or ponds, make sure you keep the water moving or add wildlife (tadpoles, fish, etc.) to deter mosquitoes from breeding in stagnant water. Bonus? Wildlife in your pond will encourage biodiversity like dragonflies which are a natural pest control for your yard! 
  3. Keep your grass mowed and trim up any landscape plants to reduce shade and moisture. 
  4. Irrigate your lawn properly to avoid standing water. 
  5. Break out the fans for outdoor events! Mosquitoes can’t fight the wind, so if you’re having a party, placing some fans around the party zone can help keep mosquitoes away from your guests.
  6. If mosquitoes are still “bugging” you, try, planting some mosquito-repelling plants around heavily-used areas of the yard.

The Sunday Way to a Mosquito-Free Yard

Sunday’s Mosquito Deleto uses cedarwood and lemongrass oils for a natural approach to mosquito control. This product will not help prevent mosquito outbreaks, but can be used once the weather warms up and mosquitoes come out. Here’s how to use it:  

  1. Always read and follow label instructions.
  2. Decide where you want your ‘protected zone’ to be – this is where you and your family spend the most time.
  3. Spray shaded and damp areas where mosquitoes hang out, along with your protected zone.
  4. If your mosquito problem is really intense, spray again 7 days after your first treatment.
  5. Apply every 14 days if you live in a cloudy, mild, or wet region, or 28 days if you’re in a sunnier or dryer climate. 

SundayProTip: Foliar sprays to shrubs can kill night-feeding mosquitoes resting there during the day. However, some plants may have adverse reactions to foliar applications (leaf burning or death) and non-target organisms, including pollinators, could be negatively affected as well. If breeding sites are eliminated by removing standing water, mosquito treatments may not be needed.

Cited Sources

Utah State University. Mosquitoes

Purdue Entomology Extension. Mosquitoes in and around the Home. Purdue University.