In many areas of the country, winter was excruciatingly long this year. Now, April showers are enduring into May, and a wet and muggy summer is almost guaranteed. On one hand, this might mean a break from the uncommonly hot, dry summers of the past few years, which have largely wreaked havoc on natural environments. On the other hand, the increased humidity is certain to bring a different hassle: Mosquitoes.
Those nearly invisible flying monsters flourish in warm, humid areas, and scientists predict their numbers will explode as summer heats up. Worse, mosquitoes are likelier than ever to carry some kind of disastrous disease, including the Zika virus, which causes microcephaly and other dreadful effects. Fortunately, there are ways to combat mosquito populations and avoid those irritating and dangerous bites. If you are wondering how to reduce mosquitoes in the yard or the yards you service, read on.
Eliminate standing water.
When a female mosquito - the only kind that bites, by the way - is ready to create another generation of blood-sucking pests, she seeks out still, fresh water. The eggs stick like glue to the sides of water-filled containers, and within the week, 100 to 200 mosquitos will hatch and begin their own reigns of terror.
Therefore, to eliminate mosquitos, you must rid the yard of their breeding grounds. All containers filled with standing water should be emptied and scrubbed - since mosquito eggs can survive up to eight months without water. This exercise should be repeated every week or so, especially in a humid region with plenty of rainfall.
Then again, if you have standing water for a reason - like a rain barrel that supplies water to the home - you can’t simply upend it. Instead, you should ensure that the container is tightly sealed, so mosquitoes and other contaminants stay out.
Plant an anti-mosquito garden.
If the homeowner isn’t interested in pesticides, you might consider some natural alternatives. Mosquitoes seem to have sensitive senses of smell; most plants that give off a strong odor will send the blood-suckers flying in the opposite direction. This summer, you should plant any of the following mosquito-repelling herbs and flowers:
- Lemon balm
Install bug lights.
Even when not plagued by mosquitoes, a lovely summer evening is often ruined by swarms of other bugs maddeningly hovering around light sources. Infuriatingly, even scientists aren’t exactly sure why so many flying insects flock to artificial lights, though there are a handful of theories, such as that nighttime bugs evolved to navigate by keeping light sources at certain angles or that some flowers emit UV rays so nighttime bugs move toward lights assuming they are sources of food.
Though we don’t know why mosquitoes and other insects congregate around lights, we have developed a way to stop it. Bug lights are opaque, yellow bulbs that emit light in longer wavelengths than most insects can see. Therefore, to bugs, the yard will look just as dark as if the lights were off. Unfortunately, to humans, the yard will look mustard-yellow, but if it keeps blood-suckers away, it might be worth it.
Try traps and zaps.
One last lethal option is mosquito traps. Mosquitoes use many tools to seek out their prey: They smell the CO2 you exhale, they use thermal senses to detect your body heat, and they feel the water vapor from your breath and sweat. Mosquito deterrents tend to mask these cues with other smells, but mosquito traps produce these proboscis-watering effects in excess. Usually fueled by propane, traps pump out CO2, heat, and water vapor, enticing mosquitoes to journey into a bag from which there is no escape.
If mosquitoes aren’t the only concern, you can also exterminate flying pests using a bug zapper. Invented in the 1930s, bug zappers attract insects using fluorescent lights, which produce a tantalizing amount of UV rays. However, before bugs can reach the divine light, their tiny bodies hit a cage electrified with as much as 4,000 volts - enough to give your finger a little tickle but utterly decimate a tiny bug. There’s no guarantee you’ll trap and kill all your yard’s mosquitoes with these tools, but they will quickly lower the numbers of mosquitoes that are around.
Spray and pray.
You shouldn’t be afraid to use chemical pesticides. Consider calling a professional or getting licensed to administer the proper insecticides around the yard that’ll only harm the bugs. Then, knowing that every nook and cranny of the yard has been treated to obliterate those flying monsters, your customers can enjoy the summer in peace.