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PHOTO: katja schulz/Flickr
This season’s invigorating rains have increased the mosquito population across much of the country. Along with itchy bites, mosquitoes can harbor a host of diseases that put you and your livestock at risk. While it’s impossible to eliminate all the mosquitoes around your farm and home, you can take steps to decrease mosquito habitats on your property.
Mosquitoes love standing water and use anything that holds water as breeding grounds. Still or stagnant water less than 1 inch deep will support mosquito growth. Look for and empty clogged gutters and leaf-filled drains, and drain outlets from air-conditioners, plastic wading pools, dog dishes, old tires, birdbaths and potted plant saucers. Even tire ruts, rotting stumps, old tree holes and puddles need to be addressed. The goal is to eliminate as many sources of standing water as possible.
Bodies of water that cannot be permanently drained, such as bird baths or other landscape water features, can be treated by using “Mosquito Dunks” to control the mosquito’s larval stage. Most of these larvicidal briquettes will last several weeks and are safe to use around animals, including pets.
Eliminating mosquito breeding habitats is only part of the battle. While it will reduce the number of mosquito larvae that reach adulthood, adult mosquitoes can fly in from other areas.
Mosquitoes will hide in tall grass, shrubbery and other dark and shaded areas. Keep grass mowed and shrubbery trimmed. If using an insecticide, choose one labeled to kill mosquitoes on shrubbery and perimeter areas of your home. Products containing the active ingredient bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, permethrin or malathion can be used to kill mosquitoes that land in these areas. Read and follow pesticide label directions carefully.
Here are some recommendations from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension on how to reduce mosquito breeding.
- Clean out eaves and gutters.
- Remove old tires or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to allow for drainage. Cover stacked tires with plastic or store them under a shelter to avoid rain filling them with water.
- Check boats for standing water. Be sure to clear drain holes, turn the boat over, cover it or increase angle to aid drainage.
- Check tarps on equipment that might collect water in pockets or indentations.
- Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
- Turn over or store plastic pots.
- Dispose of broken, unused or discarded toys that can hold water.
- Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
- Replace water in birdbaths twice per week.
- Replace water in pet and other animal feeding dishes or troughs at least twice per week.
- Fill hardwood-tree holes that hold water with sand.
- Dispose of broken or unused kiddie pools.
- Don’t leave garbage can lids lying around upside down.
- Change water in bottom of plant containers, including hanging plants, at least twice per week.
- Fix dripping outdoor faucets that create pools of water.
By reducing mosquito breeding sites and taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the number of mosquitoes taking a bite out of you and your livestock.