Every spring I receive a large number of phone calls related to controlling mosquitoes around the home. Mosquitoes not only interfere with leisure time, but some species are able to transmit diseases.
In order to control mosquitoes, it is helpful to have a good understanding of their habits and life cycle.
Water is necessary for breeding and the recent rains have provided an excellent environment. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on water or in places that later become flooded. Standing water provides a great place for the female mosquitoes to lay eggs. The days between rains, when water is not being flushed out of areas, can lead to mosquito problems.
Most female mosquitoes seek a blood meal at evening. The tiger mosquito, however, will feed even at midday.
Female mosquitoes suck blood and spit saliva (to keep the blood from coagulating) in a different host each time a blood meal is needed to lay eggs.
The mosquito can pick up a disease from one host if it is infected and carry it to another. Yellow fever, dengue and malaria were once common diseases in Georgia, but they have long been eradicated. The mosquitoes that carried these diseases are still present, but in the absence of the disease agent, the only discomfort to us now is the bite itself.
Various types of virus encephalitis occur mainly in birds and small mammals.
The transmission of encephalitis to man is rare, but has happened in Georgia. Mosquitoes, or any other insect, do not carry the AIDS virus.
By reducing the breeding sites on your own property and taking a few simple precautions, you can greatly reduce the problem of mosquitoes.
Below are a few methods you and your neighbors can use to reduce mosquito breeding:
• Clean out gutters.
• Remove old tires or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to allow the water to drain out.
• Pick up broken, unused or discarded toys.
• Replace water in birdbaths twice a week.
• Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
• Replace water in pet water bowls.
• Dispose of broken or unused kiddy pools.
• Change water in bottom of plant containers, including hanging plants, at least twice a week.
• Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
The main thing to remember is that by reducing the amount of standing water that mosquitoes can breed in may reduce the number of mosquito bites during the summer.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.