Pest Control > Mosquito Control
With the proliferation of mosquitoes of a variety of types, carrying a wide variety of diseases, and the proliferation of natural mosquito control products, it seems to be the right time to remind people of the most natural mosquito control method, mosquito prevention. With the increase in blood borne pathogens which mosquitoes are known to carry, comes an increased risk to the safety of the public. Sadly, the emphasis seems to be placed on the wrong side of the issue, focusing on treating the symptoms, rather than solving the problem.
Malaria is the worlds number one health crisis, Dengue fever threatens two fifths of the worlds population, is epidemic in Mexico, and is present in the lower South Eastern states in the U.S. While mosquito prevention, and thereby disease prevention may be impractical, or impossible in many of the worlds tropical and coastal areas, it is possible in most parts of the U.S.
We all know that mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus, Malaria, and a variety of other diseases which can be passed on to humans and animals, besides that, they hurt when they bite, and they are a general nuisance. This page will provide some advice on natural mosquito control to help you keep yourself and your family safe. The prevalence of disease makes every step to prevent mosquito problems an important step in public health and safety.
What is natural mosquito control?
The most natural mosquito control is the same as the most natural control for any problem, that is, prevention! This is done by changing the habitat from a place that they can use for living and reproducing, to one that makes living and reproducing difficult for them by denying them what they need. Any mosquito control system should start with mosquito prevention. It should be the first line of defense, and without it, all other methods are doomed to failure. All other mosquito control methods are secondary. Sprays, nets, foggers, and even exclusion will fall short. All the flavor of the day, newfangled contraptions in the world will not solve your pest control problems! Sprays, electronic devices, potions and spells can’t help if prevention is not given it’s proper place at the beginning of the program.
Mosquito control using prevention
Mosquitoes, like any other type of pest, like certain habitats. In the case of the mosquito, they need:
- Water for larvae to hatch and grow.
- Cover to hide in.
- Blood for the female to reproduce.
If you eliminate any of these, mosquitoes will not be able to reproduce in your area.
How to do it
If you have puddles of standing water, buckets, tubs, or any other receptacle for water on your property, mosquitoes can find it, and use it against you. If receptacles are the problems, dump them, and make sure that they can no longer hold water. If the problem is standing water in low spots or puddles, provide a way to drain the water either through surface drainage, that is, fill the low spots and holes, or sub surface drainage, such as a french drain, or a pipe drain with a catch box. If you use the catch box and pipe drain, make sure that the grade on the system is consistent, so that water doesn’t accumulate in the pipe. This could cause mosquitoes to use it as a basin, and become a home for other pests.
Don’t just look at the ground, there are other areas which might hold enough water to encourage mosquito populations such as home gutter systems, which should of course, be cleaned and maintained frequently.
If the water problem is a pond or lake on your property, the problem is not only water, but also cover. This is a problem I see on a regular basis. It has less to do with water, than with cover.
If mosquitoes are exposed to natural predators, the predators work very well as a green mosquito control method. If the predators can’t get to them, they can’t eat them. If you have brush and weeds around your home, it gives mosquitoes a place to hide from the things that like to eat them. It also gives them a place to find small animals for the blood needed for reproduction. If you eliminate hiding places like brush, weeds and high grass, you will drastically lower the population by exposing them to predation by their natural enemies.
If ponds or lakes exist on your property, you obviously do not want to drain them to get rid of mosquitoes, but you can reduce the amount of cover available. High weeds, and shallow water around the shallow edges of a pond should be removed. If filamentous algae, or pond scum as it is commonly called cover a large part of the body of water, the mosquitoes have a perfect habitat. They have water easily available for producing young, they have blood available from the animals that come to the water to drink, and they have cover in the water for protection from the fish who would otherwise dine on them! Skimming off the algae, or otherwise eliminating it will remove the cover, and and allow the fish to do their job.
The female needs a blood meal to produce offspring. That may often come from you! Sometimes it comes from small animals. Reducing the availability of water and cover, reduces the numbers of small animals present to feed the hungry female.
Off site mosquito problems
If you paid attention to the mosquito prevention information above, and followed the suggestions, most of your problem with mosquitoes is gone. There are however, other circumstances that can allow mosquitoes to be a problem for you and your family, and some of them may not be within your means to control. This could include such problems as swampy areas on adjacent properties, or ponds and lakes that exist nearby, and are not properly maintained. Even if this is your situation, you should still do the work mentioned above, which will still eliminate most of the problem, and then concentrate on the things you can do about your off site problem.
Neighbors and Officials
Talk with the people who own the adjacent property about the problem. Do this before contacting public health officials. See if there is something that can be done by the owner before involving officialdom. If not, that is your next step. Encourage them to practice long term control rather than short term controls like pesticides. It will cost them less in the long run. If they are reluctant or obstinate, explain the health and public safety issues involved.
Prevention is the most natural of natural mosquito control methods because it denies them what they need to thrive and reproduce, and exposes them to natural predators like birds, bats, and fish. These natural predators are the next step in our mosquito control system, biological control.
Biological mosquito control
Biological mosquito control is the next best step in green mosquito control, after we have used the best prevention methods. You have modified the habitat to work against the mosquitoes, now, you should modify the habitat to work in favor of their predators. This can be done by providing shelter and other encouragements for such predators as birds and bats. This can mean providing food sources like natural, native plants that birds enjoy, and a source of clean water like a fountain, or a well maintained, non stagnant bird bath. Bats require the same things. Bird and bat houses differ, but are fairly easily obtained.
Botanical, or organic mosquito control
Unfortunately, this is what most people think of when they think of natural mosquito control. Botanical, or organic products are a great addition to our green mosquito control arsenal, but they are not the main line of defense. Prevention is the first step, biological controls or predation is the second, and only after these methods are effectively used can you hope for success with botanical or organic mosquito control. The use of such things as citronella, or some of the commercial products designed for insect control has a place in the system. These products can be used in a couple of ways. They can be sprayed in areas where mosquitoes might have cover, and may have some preventative effects when used in outdoor living spaces, and they can be used in misting systems. Such misting systems are falling under more careful scrutiny these days, but when used in conjunction with botanical products other than pyrethrins, should pose little problem to your health, or the health of your soil. Still, with any system, there are costs, and possibly collateral damage.
Other natural mosquito control methods:
If you have followed the stages outlined above, you should not have any unmanageable mosquito problems at this point, however, if you have not followed them completely, or other extenuating circumstances exist, these tips will help.
- If you have problems with mosquitoes inside your home, you should read the section of this site which deals with exclusion, and make sure all entryways for insects are sealed or screened.
- If you have trouble in outdoor living spaces, mosquito netting for exclusion fans to improve airflow, and citronella torches will provide a degree of relief.
- If you have standing water that cannot be drained immediately, some light mineral oil can be sprayed evenly over the standing water from a spray bottle to help break the reproductive cycle.
There are other natural mosquito control practices that can help you on this website. Most of the information that applies to other insects applies to mosquitoes as well, so have a look around.
If you have a problem with mosquitoes inside the home, this tutorial on how to prevent bugs at home might be helpful.