Over the past few weeks, we have finally been blessed with a significant amount of participation. With increased moisture, the number of mosquitos will rise and begin to plague outdoor activities in greater numbers. This is because mosquitos lay their eggs in still water, and when there is standing water in an area, the mosquito population will rise with the increased number of nurseries. Now that we have had a significant rain event, there is standing water in many places just waiting for a female to lay her eggs.
The most effective method of controlling mosquito populations is targeting the larval stage and the sites where they can develop. Once mosquitoes become flying adults, control is more difficult and expensive.
• Eliminate artificial water-holding containers. If that is not possible, empty buckets, cans, bottles, used tires and other containers at least once a week.
• Clean birdbaths and water bowls for animals at least once a week.
• Fill or drain tree holes, stumps and puddles.
• Irrigate gardens and lawns carefully to prevent water standing for more than a few days.
• Check for water trapped in plastic covers on boats and swimming pools.
• Make sure rain gutters are clean and do not hold water.
• Stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish, such as minnows and goldfish.
• Aerate ponds and swimming pools.
• Eliminate aquatic vegetation around the edges of garden ponds, which will allow predatory fish and beneficial predatory insects to reach the mosquito larvae.
• When feasible, raise and lower the water level to allow predatory fish to reach the mosquito larvae.
No matter how diligent you are, some mosquitos will hatch and arrive unannounced at your next BBQ. To help protect yourself when outdoors, apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). The more DEET the repellent contains the longer, not better, it will protect you. However, the use of products containing more than 33 percent DEET is not recommended. Pay close attention to the product label, especially regarding use for children. There are many products on the market, but some provide little protection. Other tips are:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants treated with repellents containing DEET or permethrin. Keep in mind mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing. Do not apply permethrin directly on your skin.
• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, which are the periods when mosquitoes are most active.
• When outdoors, place netting over infant carriers.
• Mosquito traps based on release of CO2 does not reduce the mosquito population to the point there is a noticeable decline in mosquito numbers.
• Traps based on ultra sound technology are not effective for reducing the nuisance level.
Even though we are very blessed to receive the rain we did, it pays to know what issues can arise from the increased moisture. By taking a few steps early, your outdoor activities can be enjoyable and the pests can be lessened to a small nuisance level rather than a great problem.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at email@example.com or calling 620-793-1910