Gardener Beware of Mosquitoes
I checked my garden on Sunday evening around 7:30 PM. I picked a few tomatoes, okra, squash and an eggplant. In that five minute time period, was bitten ten or more times by mosquitoes. One rascal was still on my arm while I was at the kitchen sink washing my harvest! With that said I never once felt a bite but those whelps are still itching! With the increased rain activities that also means a rise in mosquito activity.
Asian tiger mosquitoes take advantage of sites around your property that fill with storm water and become prime mosquito breeding sites. So, start the mosquito elimination process by getting rid of objects that collect and retain rainwater.
- Bird baths need to be flushed out with a garden hose. This gets rid of mosquito larvae in the process. Plus, the birds and butterflies will appreciate the fresh water. This also applies for outdoor water bowls for pets, “tip and toss” the water from the bowl and replenish it with fresh water daily.
- Old cans, tires, etc. need to be emptied and gotten rid of properly.
- Outdoor flower pots need to be emptied of the water that collects in the dishes/trays underneath them. This also helps reduce fungus gnat problems in the plant soil.
- Remove debris from your gutters, the water and decaying material attract mosquitoes.
- Rain barrels need to be screened to keep out debris and mosquitoes.
- Check tarps that cover boats, grills, firewood, and etc. that may “pocket” water.
- If you have any pots, wheel barrow, etc. be sure to dump them.
- Kiddies pools also need to be emptied and refilled with fresh water daily.
- Drainage ditches are meant to collect storm water temporarily. Be sure to keep them free of debris (both trash and flora) so that water flows and has time to filter into the soil.
- Decorative fish ponds can be a source of mosquitoes if they contain a lot of vegetation that provides hiding places for the mosquito larvae. “Mosquito Dunks” are helpful in these situations.
While many people want to treat their yard for mosquitoes, yards are merely resting areas. Eliminating breeding sites is the best solution for reduced mosquito population. Another thing to remember is mosquitoes have no concept of property lines. So mosquito management takes a neighborhood effort to be truly effective. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are never going to go away entirely so when possible wear long sleeves and pants for outdoor activities, especially in the evening, and spray exposed skin areas with insect repellent containing DEET. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has information on mosquito control at http://insects.ncsu.edu/Urban/mosquito.htm.
Information in this article was provided in part by Dr. Mike Waldvogel, NCSU.