Do you love hanging out in your yard during the spring, summer, and fall? So do mosquitoes, if the right conditions exist in your yard. And, when mosquitoes come into your yard, they don't bring anything good with them. The list of mosquito-borne illnesses is surprisingly long, and startlingly scary. They are widely considered to be the most dangerous animal in the world for their connection to malaria in 3rd-world countries. Here in the United States, they are slightly less dangerous due to better sanitation, health care, and pest control, but a bite from a mosquito can still be fatal. West Nile virus claims dozens of lives each year. And, new viruses such as Zika and Keystone are making headlines. It's enough to make you want to close yourself inside your Houston home and never come out. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent mosquito bites. Let's discuss some of the environmental factors that make Houston a hotbed for mosquito activity and some of the ways you can have an influence on these factors.
There are four things mosquitoes love:
The warmer the temperatures are the busier mosquitoes will be. While they do not prefer to be in the sun during the day, it isn't because the sun is hot. It is because the sun dries them out. Temps in the 80s and 90s are perfect. And, if you've lived in Houston for more than a year, you know that we get a lot of hot weather. In fact, it is so temperate here that mosquitoes are sometimes active all year long.
This is the only factor on our list that you can't control in your yard. Adding shade to make it cooler will actually work to increase mosquitoes, not deter them.
Have you ever been to a swamp? Have you noticed that mosquito populations in swampy areas are scary? That's because mosquitoes breed in still water. The more still water there is, the larger the mosquito population will be. Houston gets a lot of rain, especially when a tropical storm or hurricane passes through. This creates vernal pools for mosquitoes to breed.
Everything you do to reduce still water in your yard will make your yard less attractive to mosquitoes. Trim tree branches to allow the sun to dry wet ground. Unclog drains to let water run down and away from your foundation. Remove objects in your yard that capture rainwater. Alter objects that collect rainwater, if they can be altered. You should never allow water to sit in your yard for more than a week. It only takes an inch of water for mosquitoes to breed.
Do you know that mosquitoes need sugar more than they need blood? Yup. It's true. In recent studies, researchers in the USDA have discovered that mosquitoes need sugar more frequently than they need blood, and that sugar is more of an attractant than blood. And where do they get that sugar? They get it from flowers and plants, which are abundant in the temperate climate of Houston.
Understanding that mosquitoes get sugar from flowers and plants can help you reduce mosquitoes in your yard. All you have to do is reduce the plants those mosquitoes are feeding on. If you don't want to do that, you have other options. You can plant mosquito-resistant plants in your landscaping to make it less appealing, or you can partner with a pest-control company to turn your attractive landscaping into a mosquito trap, the latter being far more effective than the former.
While male and female mosquitoes both need sugar, only female mosquitoes eat blood. This is important to know because it helps to dispel a misconception about a popular mosquito-controlling device used by many Houston home and business owners. It is called a bug zapper. These are only effective at zapping male mosquitoes. Studies show that bug zappers lure female mosquitoes in but rarely close enough to zap them. If you're finding mosquitoes in your zapper, it doesn't mean it is effective at stopping mosquitoes. It only means that it is effective at stopping male mosquitoes, and male mosquitoes don't bite.
These DIY tips should help you get some control over of the mosquitoes in your Houston yard but, to reduce mosquitoes as much as possible, you'll need the assistance of a trained and certified professional. Give us a call to learn more about our mosquito control options.