Northwestern Press

Sunday, September 22, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DIANE DORNClean up or empty containers left outside that hold water. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DIANE DORNClean up or empty containers left outside that hold water.

Growing Green: Home is where mosquitoes are

Friday, September 6, 2019 by LEHIGH COUNTY EXTENSION Special to The Press in Focus

Mosquitoes are small, primitive flies that breed in standing water.

During their life, they pass through four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The eggs, which are laid in or near water, hatch into larvae (wrigglers) within a few days. In many cases, the eggs are laid in bunches in distinct, raftlike structures, but they also may be laid singly.

The wrigglers feed on microscopic plant life, molt several times as they grow, and become tumblers, or pupae, that subsequently turn into adults. The process for some species can take place in as short a time as seven to 10 days.

It is important to do everything we can to get rid of mosquitoes. Controlling mosquitoes, and exposure to diseases they may carry, can be done by chemical and non-chemical methods. Your first line of defense begins at home.

Here are some things that you can do to control mosquitoes around the home:

Remove their habitat (where they live and breed). Eliminate standing water in old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed. A single bottle cap left outside can collect enough rain water for mosquito larvae to mature. Tires have become the most important mosquito breeding sites in the United States.

Clean clogged roof gutters every year, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees tend to plug the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked, but they can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

Empty and change the water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential mosquito habitats.

Drain or fill temporary pools of water with dirt.

Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating. Mosquitoes often breed in water that collects on swimming pool covers.

Alter the landscape of your property to eliminate standing water. During warm weather, mosquitoes will breed in any puddle of water.

Make sure window and door screens are “bug tight.”

Prevent your exposure to mosquitoes. Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely. Use head nets, long sleeves, and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations.

Mosquitoes are repelled by high winds. Electric fans may provide some relief at outdoor events.

Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

Warm and hot days bring about an increase in outdoor human activity. Unfortunately, mosquitoes also are around. They are certainly a nuisance, but worse, they can and do transmit human and animal disease.

Therefore, it is essential for homeowners to do what they can to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around their homes. Such vigilance does not guarantee freedom from bites, however. Some mosquitoes can fly up to several miles from a breeding site.

Nevertheless, by dressing appropriately and reducing your time outdoors, you can decrease the chance you will be bitten, Moreover, repellents can provide excellent protection against mosquitoes.

Spotted Lanternfly update: Adult spotted lanternflys have emerged. Check Penn State website for information:

https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.

“Growing Green” is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. Information: Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-813-6613.