Imagine that you’re out in your backyard or having dinner at your patio table. Or maybe after months of snow and wind, you’re finally able to take the pool cover off and dive in. The days are getting longer and they’re getting warmer. Maybe you invite some friends over to catch up and relive the old days long into the evening.
But then the mosquitoes show up.
Often as a swarm, but it really only takes a few to ruin an evening and disrupt the experience of enjoying your yard.
The food is quickly covered and whisked away inside.
The pool is cleared.
The guests leave and you are left imagining the evening that could have been as you look out onto your yard from inside.
A home is one of the most significant purchases that a person will make in their lifetime, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that you will be able to enjoy the entirety of your property – inside and out.
The fact that they are a nuisance is often the first complaint that people have with mosquitoes, but it’s not the only problem that they can pose.
Here we are going to take a look at some of the other problems associated with mosquitoes as well as prevention and remediation.
Mosquitoes are Not Just a Nuisance
Detecting a mosquito problem is pretty easy because they're usually right in your face. If you don't actually see them, then you're sure to notice the itchy red bumps that they leave behind. But being annoying is only one problem with mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes can spread viruses in humans.
In this region, we are primarily concerned with West Nile virus, and its development is often tracked by local news outlets. According to the CDC, most people who are infected with West Nile virus won’t develop any symptoms, but for those who do, the virus can be devastating. In those cases, West Nile can cause encephalitis or meningitis, and the symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The virus can affect any age group, and it can take weeks or months to recover.
Another virus that, fortunately, isn’t as prevalent in this area is the Zika virus. In America, there were widespread cases in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in 2015 and 2016 and limited local transmission in Florida and Texas. There was a decline in cases in 2018, but it’s important to stay vigilant – it’s always better to prevent than treat. Zika is known to cause microcephaly – a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected and might not have developed properly.
Mosquitoes can spread viruses in animals.
Whether the animals are pets or livestock, it is important to remember that animals can also be affected by mosquitoes. On farms, cows and other animals often spend significant amounts of time outside on fields that contain large drainage ponds, and then they drink from troughs. Most of their days – and nights – are spent in the vicinity of large quantities of standing water that are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. According the “Pest Control Technology Technician’s Handbook,” mosquitoes are an important carrier of western equine encephalitis, a disease of the nervous system. The purchase and maintenance of livestock and horses requires a significant financial investment, which could be in jeopardy on account of mosquitoes.
If conditions are suitable for mosquitoes, then they’re suitable for other pests, too.
Moisture – particularly standing water – is a major attraction for a wide variety of pests. In this region, we are particularly concerned with Eastern subterranean termites, which construct mud tubes to wooden structures that serve as their food source. Water near or in your home is a temptation that they might not be able to resist. Similarly, water in a particularly shady area or in a damp basement could lead to a mold problem. Fixing the moisture issues can effectively solve all of these potential threats to your home.
Mosquitoes: Key Facts
There are many species of mosquitoes, but here are the essentials for the common suspects in our region.
Mosquito season typically runs from April through September, and it peaks from June through August.
They generally begin to emerge when the nighttime temperatures are in the fifties (April) and can persist until the first frost (September).
Mosquitoes can go from egg to an adult in a matter of seven days, and they will cycle through multiple generations in a single season, which can cause their numbers to explode rapidly.
Different mosquito solutions affect different portions of the mosquito lifecycle – egg, larva, pupa and adult.
It doesn’t take much to start the cycle: it only takes a half-of-an-inch to an inch of standing water to create an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
When we go to treat for mosquitoes, we look to see if there are likely breeding sites on the property.
We always start by asking why are there mosquitoes here? Are they breeding on your property? If so, what can we do to remedy it? If they are breeding somewhere else, how can we keep them from settling on your property? The primary issue here is standing water.
Is there a pond nearby that has gone stagnant? Are there containers, vases or birdbaths on the property that are collecting water? Are there old tires that can be removed or rolled away? Are the gutters and downspouts draining properly?
Anything that holds water should be flipped over and dried out if possible.
Some of the less obvious places include patio furniture and playsets. There have been situations where we have drilled extra holes into the bottoms of plastic slides so they can drain.
There are cases where the water can’t be dried or drained. In these cases, it might be possible to keep the water in motion. In the case of a decorative pond, for example, we might recommend installing solar-powered fountains. Even small ripples can be enough to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, and if the eggs have already been laid, the ripples can be enough to drown them.
Areas that can’t be solved by either draining or motion can be treated with mosquito bits or dunks. The active ingredient in these larvicides is a type of bacteria that reproduces inside the mosquito larva and kills them after they feed on it.
Lights are also a major attraction for mosquitoes, so whenever possible, lights should be positioned away from the house – or at least away from where you plan to entertain.
Changing the environment can help to prevent mosquitoes from becoming a problem in the first place. Additionally, even if you managed to kill every single mosquito on the property, if you don’t change the environment, then you’re inviting them back.
Synthetic Pesticides and Mosquito Remediation
In terms of treatments, Gladhill Services uses repellant-based insecticides. The goal here is to repel mosquitoes and prevent them from landing and breeding in the treated areas.
We prefer to use synthetic products over organic solutions for several reasons:
First, the synthetics that we use are more effective than the organics we have tried, so customers get more bang for their buck.
Second, the organics lack a lasting residual effect. The treatment pace for synthetics is typically every thirty to forty-five days (in some cases we can push it back to sixty), but we have to reapply organics every two weeks – more if it rains.
Third, modern synthetic treatments have a much lower toxicity than those that were in use thirty or forty years ago.
When we first spray, mosquitoes that are established in the targeted area will likely die off in a short amount of time. Accordingly, homeowners can expect to notice a big difference in numbers very quickly, and it will only get better from there.
The occasional mosquito might still fly through your property, but if it can’t get established, it will retreat because of the pesticide. If they do rest in that treated area, they will likely pick up a lethal dose.
Mosquitoes are always annoying – and sometimes they can even be dangerous to both humans and animals – but they are also predictable, which means that they can be outsmarted. They only need about an inch of standing water to breed, so it is important to closely examine the property and remove, flip or drain anything that could potentially retain water. Additionally, pesticide treatments can be strategically applied to prevent them from returning.
It’s not clear yet how the record-setting rains of 2018 will affect the 2019 mosquito season, but at Gladhill Services we can help you get ahead of the problem.
Gladhill Services is a family-owned company serving Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, providing pest control, mold removal, duct cleaning and waterproofing services for residential and commercial customers.