All Abuzz About Mosquitoes
If you’ve been outside lately, you have most likely noticed the giant mosquitoes that seem to want to pick people up and carry them off. With recent weather conditions, floodwater mosquitoes have emerged in large numbers.
Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs above the water line in ponds, ditches, pastures, or other places where water collects. The eggs can remain in dry areas and when these areas are flooded the eggs hatch, leading to swarms of hungry mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are larger than mosquitoes we are used to around our homes and can swarm in high numbers.
While floodwater mosquitoes won’t last forever, other mosquitoes called container breeding mosquitoes emerge when floodwaters begin to recede. Many of these species are ones that we are used to seeing around our homes.
How to Reduce Populations
While floodwater mosquitoes species can be difficult to predict and manage, as they can fly up to 5 miles for a blood meal, container breeding mosquito problems can be reduced. Eliminate all sources of standing water. Containers such as watering cans, buckets and bottles can turn into mosquito breeding grounds. Water should be drained from birdbaths, gutters, flowerpots and pet dishes at least once a week. Children’s wading pools should be emptied of water at least once a week and stored so they cannot collect water when not in use. Tree holes should be filled in with sand, mortar, expanding foam, or drained after each rain. Leaky faucets and pipes located outside should be repaired. Fill in low lying areas in the lawn with topsoil or sand or install a French drain.
Areas that cannot be drained, such as ponds or large rain collection systems, can be stocked with mosquito fish that eat mosquito larvae. Dunks can also be used in these areas. Dunks are a small, donut-shaped product that contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. israeliensis. The donut disrupts the life cycle of the mosquito and is non-toxic to humans, amphibians and fish.
When outside, wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing with long sleeves & long pants. Repellants containing active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus can be effective to keep mosquitoes from biting when activities cannot be rescheduled.
For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600.
County Extension Program Specialist – Integrated Pest Management
Wizzie has been with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service since 2002 and has been playing with insects since she was a toddler. She is an Extension Program Specialist with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Wizzie holds a B.S. in entomology from The Ohio State University and a M.S. in entomology from Texas A&M University. The integrated pest management program provides identification, biological and management information to whomever needs help. Wizzie’s research focuses on imported fire ants, including community wide fire ant management. Wizzie also is happy to provide programs to area groups on a variety of arthropod-related topics. You can find insect and other arthropod information on Wizzie’s blog.