After receiving an abundance of much need rain, everyone knows the mosquitoes are coming next. While male mosquitoes only live about ten days, the females can live six to eight weeks. During that time, one female will lay up to 300 eggs every three days on top of standing water. The eggs will hatch in seven to ten days. Like all living things, these pesky insects need food, water, and shelter to survive. Eliminate any one of these three elements and the mosquito will die.
Remove their habitat. Controlling mosquitoes at home and in the yard starts by keeping the grass mowed and cutting back shrubs and vines. Shady areas can be sprayed by a professional pest controller or a do-it-yourself application of pesticide. Encourage your neighbors to also mow and trim.
Remove their water. Clear outside areas of anything that can possibly hold water, even small amounts. Junk, bowls, cans, toys, old tires, and similar type items should be removed. Clean out gutters on the house. Water can pool behind clumps of leaves and twigs making great breeding areas. Also, empty the water found in the saucers under potted plants. Unused wading pools should be stored inside or turned upside. Run swimming pool pumps on schedule and keep chlorine levels up. Water in birdbaths should be changed at least weekly and pet bowls should be changed daily to eliminate nutrients. Again, encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Remove their food. Only the female mosquitoes bite and they do so for the protein found in blood. The best way to protect you and your family is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. If possible, stay indoors at dawn and dusk when many mosquito species are the most active. When going outdoors for long periods of time, wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Consider the use of mosquito repellent. Not all repellents are effective. Read the label and choose one that contains DEET, IR3535, Picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. Read and follow the directions.
While there are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes about 175 of them are found in the United States and only 85 of those have been identified in Texas. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Skuse), was first detected in Texas in 1985 and is now a wide-spread and common species. The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes egypti (Linnaeus), is also common.
According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, mosquitoes affect the health of people and animals more than any other insect pest worldwide. Biting female mosquitoes transmit many infectious agents that cause diseases such as encephalitis, malaria, dengue, chikungunya, Zika virus, and yellow fever. Learn more about mosquitoes and controlling them from the Calhoun County Extension Office or visit https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/mosquito-control/.
Rhonda Cummins is the Calhoun County Extension Agent for Coastal and Marine Resources with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and the Texas Sea Grant College Program.