It's a perfect summer evening for a barbeque. The evening is beginning to cool off, but the breeze is still warm. You sit down at the picnic table to enjoy dinner with your friends or family.
But then you feel it. That tiny prick of a mosquito bite. Then another and another. And just like that, instead of enjoying a relaxing dinner with your family, you spend the time frantically swatting away pests or sitting in clouds of bug repellant.
We’ve all been there. But there is some excellent news.
It doesn’t need to be this way!
Here at Pure Turf, we understand the painful disturbance mosquitoes cause. And we say, “No more!”
In this blog, we’ll address five common questions about dealing with mosquitos and how to eliminate them effectively.
Let’s dive in!
1- Are mosquitoes really that dangerous?
If mosquitoes are “only” a nuisance – that’s one kind of (very important) problem. But if they pose a real risk to human health, it takes the issue to a whole new level.
We can all agree on the nuisance part, but what kind of risk do mosquitoes pose to humans?
Certain kinds of mosquitoes carry germs that cause disease in humans. These diseases range in severity, and some can result in death. In less developed parts of the world, this causes a significant health risk, with millions being infected with mosquito-borne illnesses every year.
But let's bring it closer to home.
There are about 200 types of mosquitoes living in the United States. Of those 200, 12 can carry disease-causing germs. While this seems like a small percentage, the disease-bearing types are actually quite common.
Nine types of mosquitoes are commonly found in Tennessee. And unfortunately, each of these can transmit disease to humans. Tennessee's most common mosquito-borne illnesses are West Nile Virus, La Crosse Encephalitis, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Cases of chikungunya, dengue, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, SLE, Zika virus, and yellow fever also occur but are less frequent.
In 2021, there were 2,445 West Nile Virus cases alone in the US – 165 of which resulted in death.
So while it remains unlikely that you will die from a mosquito bite, mosquitoes do pose a notable threat to human health, especially when left uncontrolled. Part of the reason why the threat of mosquitoes is less severe here in the States as compared to less developed countries is because of our mosquito control measures.
2 - What are the most effective ways to control mosquitoes in my yard?
There isn’t one best way to fend off mosquitoes. Instead, the best way to keep away these little pests is a combination of mosquito-repellent practices. These practices are divided into two categories:
- Natural Repellents
Usually, these two are most effective when used together
A few examples in the natural category include maintaining a well-kept lawn, removing standing water, and planting natural repellents. (We’ll go into more detail about natural repellents later.)
Insecticides are a powerful and effective way to deal with mosquitoes. And if you’re a little uncomfortable about using chemicals on your lawn, don’t worry. Insecticides are safe when used correctly.
At Pure Turf, we employ practices in both of these categories for the best results.
We begin by removing standing water as much as possible. If standing water can’t be removed, we’ll treat it to prevent mosquito larvae from maturing. We also treat areas where mosquitoes like to rest, for example, under decks, around woodpiles, and in other shaded or moist places.
3 - What attracts mosquitoes to my yard?
There are a host of things that can attract mosquitoes to your lawn, but we’ll just look at a few of the most common ones here.
Few things attract mosquitoes as quickly as standing water. Standing water can accumulate more easily than you might think. Here are a few places that tend to collect standing water: Dirty birdbaths, undrained pools, low places in your lawn, old tires, plant saucers, and pet bowls. Remove, cover, or treat any standing water on your property.
Moist, shaded areas
Under decks, in woodpiles, and under overgrown bushes are all places where mosquitoes like to congregate.
Clogged drains and gutters
Don’t forget to clean out your drains and gutters and keep them maintained! Mosquitoes swarm to a clogged gutter since it offers moisture and protection.
Everything from children’s toys to old tires to piles of leaves can attract mosquitoes. As long as there is water (or moisture) and shade, mosquitoes will probably find it and move in.
Uncovered trash cans
If trash cans aren’t covered, they’ll collect standing water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Certain types of plants can attract mosquitoes. Examples include water lilies, bamboo, water hyacinths, and taro. If you want to include these plants in your yard, you’ll probably need to compensate with other measures to ensure the mosquitoes stay away.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of things that will attract mosquitoes, but it's a good start. Eliminate these from your yard, and you’ll be headed toward a mosquito-free lawn!
4 - How can I keep mosquitoes away naturally?
As we mentioned previously, the most effective way to keep away mosquitoes is the use of insecticides and natural repellants. Let’s take a look at a few of the natural repellents you can add to your lawn or garden.
Plant natural repellents
There are a significant number of plants that deter mosquitoes while making your lawn and garden look lovely. Here’s a sampling to get you started:
- Lemon Balm
Attract natural predators
Bats, many types of birds, fish, and some turtles are natural predators of mosquitoes. Add birdhouses and feeders to your lawn to attract purple martins, songbirds, swallows, and others. If you want to attract bats, consider installing a bat house. Untended fish ponds are huge mosquito magnets, so if you have one, keep it stocked with predators like koi, goldfish, and the rear-eared slider turtle.
Maintain your lawn
Since mosquitoes like shaded, moist areas, a well-maintained lawn is less likely to attract them. Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed and your lawn mowed and dethatched.
Remove or treat standing water
We really can’t stress enough how important it is to remove standing water from your property. Make sure any birdbaths, animal water dishes, and rainwater collection containers are regularly emptied and cleaned. If you have standing water that can’t be removed and don’t want to treat it chemically, you can try treating it with coffee. Here’s how:
- Place used coffee grounds into a container.
- Let for 25 days to create greater potency.
- Add coffee grounds to standing water at a ratio of 3 tablespoons of grounds to 1 cup of water.
This will hinder the growth of larvae but will not affect adult populations of mosquitoes.
Lavender and citronella candles repel mosquitoes.
Create air movement
If you find yourself in a situation where you have limited options, a temporary fix is creating air movement at ground level. Mosquitoes are attracted to body odors and the carbon dioxide we exhale when breathing. Air movement disperses these smells and confuses mosquitoes.
Can I spray my yard for mosquitoes myself?
While you can spray your own yard, there are significant benefits that come with hiring a professional.
First, a professional will do a more thorough job. Because spraying is part of their job, they’ll know how to spot problem areas that are otherwise easy to miss. They will treat these areas thoroughly but without overdoing it.
Second, professionals are competent in choosing and handling insecticides. It’s important to choose the correct insecticide for the job and then handle, apply, and dispose of (or store) it correctly. If this doesn’t happen, there are numerous safety and environmental concerns that can arise. For example, using large amounts of pesticides isn’t necessarily better and can actually cause health risks. When you hire a professional, they will inform you of any safety precautions (like removing children and pets from the area) and ensure safe usage of the insecticide.
Third, it’s less work and less stressful. Hiring a professional means less work and stress for you as the homeowner. Hire a reputable lawn care service (checking reviews is very helpful), then relax knowing the job will be done well.
With Pure Turf, you can add mosquito control to any of our lawn care plans! Here’s how it works: First, we assess your property and provide a free estimate. Then we remove standing water from your property. Finally, we treat any areas where mosquitoes like to congregate and any standing water that can’t be cleared or drained. And voila! A mosquito-free summer lies ahead!
Mosquitoes are an incredible pest and hindrance to outdoor fun! And they can also pose a significant health risk.
Thankfully, they can be eliminated, and you can enjoy a mosquito-free outdoor experience.
If you found this article helpful, you may find the following blogs helpful as well:
- 5 Common Diseases Affecting Tennessee Lawns (and how to prevent them)
- Lawn Fertilization in Tennessee
Reach out today with any questions or to get your free estimate today!