With our recent rains, mosquito calls have been coming into the Bryan County Extension office in increasing numbers. After some time in drought, we are now suddenly facing a mosquito "baby boom."
Mosquito eggs lie dormant until they’re immersed in water, which signals them to hatch. Because Georgia hasn’t had enough rain to flood their habitats in years, leftover eggs from years gone by were just waiting to be soaked and stimulated to hatch.
The best way to limit the insects’ population explosion is to focus on pools of water left behind by all the rains. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Don’t worry about ditches or streams where the water is moving. Mosquito larvae can’t develop in flowing water.
Controlling breeding sites
The cheapest and best way to control mosquitoes is to get rid of places where they breed. Used tires, for instance, are significant breeding sites. Tires should be recycled and properly disposed of to keep them from becoming mosquito sources. There are more potential "mosquito nurseries" than you might think. Here are some tips to help prevent mosquito problems:
• Remove old tires or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to allow them to drain. Tires are common larval habitats for several mosquitoes that bite humans and should not be stored outdoors.
• Check boats for holding water, clear drain holes, turn over, cover or increase angle to aid drainage.
• Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
• Pick up broken, unused or discarded toys that hold water.
• Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
• Replace water in birdbaths and other animal feeding dishes or troughs once a week.
• Fill tree holes (hardwood trees) that hold water with spray, insulating foam sealant.
• Position garbage cans and lids so they don’t hold water.
• Change water in planters, including hanging plants, at least once a week.
• Maintain gutters so water drains properly.
• Monitor all types of drainage pipes/systems for standing water.
• Fix dripping outdoor faucets that create pools of water.
For personal protection
For the mosquitoes that have already hatched, repellents can help protect you from bites. Here are ways to limit your exposure to mosquitoes:
• Wear light colored clothes outside. Dark colors attract mosquitoes.
• Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are usually most active.
• Wear a repellent containing DEET, and treat clothing with a product such as Permanone (containing permethrin). Herbal repellents work for less than an hour.
• If you use citronella candles, orient them so the breeze directs the candle smoke toward you. The smoke is what repels mosquitoes.
Always follow label instructions to protect you and the environment.
But a word or two of caution about what you buy to control mosquitoes: They’re not always what they claim to be. Mosquito plants don’t repel mosquitoes very well, if at all. Neither does garlic, herbal bracelets or ultrasonic devices. Also keep in mind that traps that use light or carbon dioxide to lure in insects may attract more mosquitoes than they kill.
To learn more about controlling mosquitoes, call the Bryan County Extension Service office at 912-653-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.