Managing mosquitoes

Photo: Ric Bessin, UK

Figure 1. The Asian tiger mosquito is a common day-biting mosquito in Kentucky.

 

As we move into the heart of the summer months, mosquito activity often begins to increase. That can mean more hungry mosquitoes searching for blood meals. There are a number of practices we can adopt to reduce the number of mosquitoes or their biting. This includes reducing the breeding sites by eliminating standing water, excluding them from your house, and using repellents to prevent biting when outside.

Reducing Breeding Sites

In its lifetime, the Asian tiger mosquito usually stays within 100 yards of where it developed as a larva, so eliminating standing water around areas outside where you spend time has real benefits. While some containers, such as rain barrels, bird baths, buckets, and pet dishes are obvious breeding locations, others, like children’s toys, used tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, and traps over boats or equipment, may be harder to spot. Whenever possible, standing water needs to be drained frequently. In places where standing water cannot be drained, mosquito larvicides should be used to eliminate mosquito larvae. There are now several active ingredients.

Reduce Shelter for Mosquitoes

Adult mosquitoes rest during the day in shady, humid locations, such as the cover of dense vegetation. Remove tall weeds and thin overgrown vegetation to reduce the protected places where mosquitoes can hide during the day. Increasing air movement reduces humidity and moisture favorable for mosquitoes. Residual insecticides applied to shrubbery around the yard can help to reduce mosquito biting.

Excluding Them from Your Home

Use properly installed screening around all doors and windows to prevent mosquitos from entering the home. If you spend lots of time on your porch, screening the porch may be an option.

Protect Yourself from Bites

When spending time outdoors while mosquitoes are active, consider using commercial mosquito repellents. When used as directed, mosquito repellents are safe and effective. The CDC lists a number of different effective active ingredients for repellents on their website.

Besides repellents, covering exposed skin with long pants and long sleeved shirts reduces exposure. Clothing can be treated with permethrin for added protection, but do not use permethrin directly on your skin. Permethrin treatments to clothing can provide protection after multiple washings.

When using insecticides to control mosquitoes or repellents to reduce biting, always read and follow the label directions.

For more information on pest management, go to laurel.ca.uky.edu or call the Laurel County Extension Office at 606.864.4167.

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