If you’re looking for ways to get rid of mosquitoes, you’ve come to the right place!
In this guide you’ll learn:
- Mosquito biology and behavior
- How to identify mosquitoes
- Hot to treat them
- How to prevent them
- Answers to frequently asked questions
If there is any insect more annoying, more irritating, or more infuriating than mosquitoes, we’ve yet to hear about them. The vexing, high-pitched whine of a mosquito flying around you is one of the most maddening sounds in the world. It’s a thousand times worse if it’s inside your house.
There are a lot of ways to kill mosquitoes, but how many ways are there to eliminate the problem so they don’t come back? We’re going to discuss exactly that issue, and more.
In this guide, we’ll be discussing mosquito identification, detection, treatment, and long-term prevention, with a quick side trip to examine the “tools of the trade” for all this.
That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.
How to Identify Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes carry all kinds of diseases, so identification becomes extremely important, not only to controlling them but keeping you and your family healthy. While most people can identify adult mosquitoes without any help from us, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- No Set Size: Mosquitoes don’t have any set size. Some can be quite large compared to others. Don’t be fooled by their size though. They are all mosquitoes and they all drink animal and human blood for food.
- Similar To Flies: Mosquitoes are members of the order of Diptera, the true flies. They may not resemble your ordinary housefly but they are in the same family nonetheless. This means any environment where flies live, is an environment where mosquitoes will be happy as well. Their food may be different, but they like the same general living conditions.
- Usually Long And Slender: They are generally long-bodied and slender. Each individual wing is just a bit shorter than their body, while their long, skinny legs are two, three, or even four times longer than their body.
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What You Should Know About Mosquito Biology and Behavior?
The way mosquitoes behave, where they live, how they live, their food sources, and favored resting places for harborage, are key ingredients in learning how to control them and keep them away from you and your house. You can’t conquer an enemy you don’t know anything about, so let’s start with the basics.
Mosquito Life Cycle
All mosquitoes go through four stages during their life; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adults are fairly easy to identify, but the other stages take a bit more effort. For instance, all mosquitoes are broken into two broad categories based on how they lay their eggs.
- Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs above the normal waterline in areas that are prone to periodic flooding. These eggs can survive for up to two or more years waiting for another flood to come along and trigger them into hatching.
- Standing water mosquitoes lay their eggs on the surface of pools of water. They can lay up to 200 eggs at a time depending on the species, and the eggs will hatch in 24-48 hours. This means that any puddle of standing water in your yard that persists more than a day or two, could potentially harbor hundreds, if not thousands of eggs waiting to hatch.
Larval stage mosquitoes are also known as wigglers, will swim in water, feeding on microscopic bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. They’ll go through four growth stages, called instars, before they go into their pupa, or pupae stage. The pupa is also an aquatic stage in their life cycle. It is the final stage before they turn into an adult mosquito 24-48 hours later.
Adult mosquitoes need to seek shelter in surrounding vegetation to let their wings develop when they first emerge from the pupa stage. Once their wings are functional, the female is the only one that sucks blood. She needs the extra in it to develop and lay more eggs. The males will mate with the females as soon as she is able, then their part is over. The female does the rest
Mosquitoes don’t breed in running water. Instead, they breed in stagnant water such as puddles, ponds, clogged rain gutters, old tires filled with water, stale birdbaths, etc. As long as the water isn’t chlorinated, they can successfully mate and breed in it.
Mosquitoes can fly great distances, and when they rest, like to stay on the underside of leaves 4-10 feet off the ground. They typically ignore grass or short bushes. If you’re treating your yard for mosquitoes, you’re generally wasting both time and money because they fly over it without landing on it.
Mosquito Food Sources
The adult male will eat nectar and other sweet or sugary fluids. Thus, wide grassy lawns won’t offer them anything to eat. They’ll be unlikely to stay around it for any length of time. The females, of course, are the bloodsuckers. You already know what they eat.
Which Diseases Are Carried by Mosquitoes?
Many mosquitoes carry many diseases, making them vectors. This means they can transmit a disease from one infected animal or person to another without suffering from the effects of the disease themselves. They will bite an infected person or animal, pick up the virus, and carry it with them until they bite their next victim, at which time the virus is passed along.
Furthermore, the virus can be passed on to the next generation of mosquitoes when they lay eggs. That subsequent generation isn’t harmed by it but can pass it along the same as the parent generation, either by biting a host or passing it on to their children.
The list of known diseases carried by mosquitoes is quite extensive. Here is a partial list.
- Zika Virus
- West Nile Virus
- Dengue Fever
- Dog Heartworm
Although the media likes to cry wolf every time a new pathogen is discovered, the fact remains that every mosquito bite carries with it the inherent risk, no matter how small, of catching some very serious illnesses. Not only are mosquito bites painful and itchy, but they can also be quite deadly if you have the bad luck to be bitten by one carried one of these diseases.
What Equipment Do You Need To Kill Mosquitoes?
You’ll need some basic equipment in order to tackle mosquitoes. They start outside – naturally – so you’ll need to start treating outside. The difficulty there is that mosquitoes are aerial insects. You can’t spray the air so you have to spray the areas where they like to rest and seek harborage.
For the most part, they like to settle on the underside of leaves and branches trees, up to about ten feet off the ground. They don’t settle on the grass or short bushes though. It’s very difficult to spray high up in trees and get good coverage with a normal sprayer, so you’ll have to use something a little more robust.
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These are gas-powered machines that put out a fine, high-pressure mist to cover leaves, branches, and tree trunks up in the air. Depending on the model, they can weigh anywhere from 35-40 pounds before putting in the gas or the chemical you’re spraying.
Most of them use 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines to create a pressurized spray of mist capable of reaching up to forty feet in the air. Normally that have a 3-4 gallon tank on them for holding the pesticide you’re using. Once the tank is filled and the concentrate has been properly mixed to the right percentage according to the label, you start the engine, put the pack on your shoulders, stagger to your feet, then pull the trigger and watch it put out a fine stream of mist.
You’ll have to adjust the controls a bit to get the right amount of mist at the right pressure; more pressure to reach higher leaves and branches, a wider mist to cover thicker leaves and vines.
Because you’re spraying up into the air with these foggers, you need to wear goggles, a mask, disposable latex gloves, and a wide-brimmed hat. Long-sleeved shirts and blue jeans are a must as well.
Most backpack foggers can be a couple hundred bucks and up, so before rushing out to buy one, you might want to make a few phone calls to equipment rental companies in your area to see if they have these machines available for rent. If they do, we highly recommend do it that way.
If you can’t get a fogger, a backpack sprayer is the next best choice for equipment to get and use around the trees and bushes. They’re much cheaper than foggers and will work, but you’ll have to put some effort into it. The nozzle can be adjusted from a wide fan to a narrow pin stream, with the range depending on how much pressure you can manually pump it up to using the lever on the side.
The more pressure, the higher it will reach.
If you narrow it down to a pin stream you’ll get good range, but very little coverage. A wide fan will provide better coverage but less height. Somewhere in the middle is what you’re aiming for. How much adjustment you’ll need to make will depend on how tall the trees are in and around your yard.
For around the windows and doors on the outside of the house, and along the inside as well, a 1-gallon handheld sprayer is required. There are a wide variety of models and manufacturers to choose from. We don’t recommend going dirt cheap on these, but you don’t need to spend several hundred dollars either.
One thing we do suggest though is to make sure the sprayer comes with a metal wand. Rubber or plastic wands have a tendency to warp very quickly, making it difficult to properly aim them. A metal wand eliminates that problem.
What Chemicals Are Available To Kill Mosquitoes?
You can’t spray or treat unless you have chemical pesticides to do it with. The best insecticides are the ones that prevent mosquitoes in the first place.
Mosquito dunks are solid blocks of insecticide designed to be placed in bodies of standing water. They’re usually shaped like fat donuts. As it slowly dissolves over a period of 30 days, each dunk will treat 100 square feet of surface water to kill the mosquito larva before they can turn into adults.
As an added bonus, they’re perfectly safe of koi ponds and other fish. They won’t harm beneficial insects or birds, and there won’t be any nasty smell to them either. In fact, you won’t even notice they’re there, except for the lack of mosquitoes.
Start adding mosquito dunks to any standing water around your house as soon as the weather begins to warm up in the spring. Check on them periodically to add more as they dissolve. Following this regime from early spring to late fall will go a long way to keeping mosquitoes away from your house. It won’t keep new ones from flying in from elsewhere, but it will keep them from successfully reproducing around your house.
Your backpack fogger or sprayer will be used to spray a hard knockdown insecticide and an IGR combined together (more on IGR’s in a minute). Because it’s outside, you’ll need an insecticide with good sticking power.
Alternately, you can use a surfactant, “surface active agent” to make your insecticides stick to the leaves and trees. Surfactant is little more than a fancy word for liquid soap. A few drops of your favorite kitchen dish washing soap will be all you need to add to get the best results. Don’t add more than that or you’ll be sorry you did. Trust us on the this one – been there, done that.
For outside mosquito killing, we recommend Cyper TC. It’s strong smelling because it’s concentrated, so we discourage you from using it inside. But it’s perfect for outside use. It has fairly good sticking power, especially when you’re spraying it on the underside of leaves where it’s protected from the rain and sun. Throw a few drops of surfactant (or dish washing soap) in with it and it’ll stick like glue. When the mosquitoes land on it they’ll get into the insecticide and start dying.
Another good pesticide is Bifen I/T. It also has a fairly strong odor to it but is an excellent outdoor insecticide.
Because you’re treating outdoor, it’s best to spray or fog every thirty days. If you try to stretch it any further than that you run the risk of new leaves growing that don’t have any pesticide on them. They’ll become an oasis in the middle of all the others for the mosquitoes to land and rest on.
Don’t chance it. Spray every 30 days.
How To Use IGRs To Kill Mosquitoes?
An Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) is essentially birth control for bugs. It prevents them from molting, which slowly kills them inside their old shell as they grow, or it rushes them into adulthood before they can reproduce, rendering them sterile. In either case, they can’t mate or lay eggs. It cuts the breeding cycle so the generation that hatches from the eggs that already existed won’t be able to reproduce.
Add the IGR to the tank with the regular pesticide and spray them together. That way every mosquito will be affected by one or the other.
Treatment Options For Mosquitoes?
When you’re ready to start spraying (or fogging) the mixing procedure will be the same, whether you’re treating inside or outside.
Fill the tank half full of water. Measure in the correct amount of insecticide as instructed on the label. Swirl the water/concentrate mixture around several times to begin the mixing process. Measure in the correct amount of IGR and swirl the mixture around again. Finish filling the tank with water and put the lid back on. Make sure it is airtight.
Shake the tank – vigorously – for at least one full minute to thoroughly mix the concentrate(s) and the water. If it’s not mixed properly you’ll get too much pesticide in one place but not enough in another and you’ll wind up wasting it.
Use a quick, light motion back and forth over the leaves and tree trunk to get complete coverage. Release the trigger after each pass otherwise you’ll waste the chemical. Get all of the leaves and branches as high as you can. Treat everything down to about three feet above the ground.
Adjust the spray nozzle to get the best coverage you can and treat it the same way as with the fogger, continually pumping up the pressure in order to get the best range you possibly can. It won’t reach as high as the fogger but you should still be able to get up to 8-9 feet high.
Spray all the cracks and crevices around all the windows and doors. Spray around all the plumbing intrusions, around the A/C hoses where they go into the house, around all the electrical connections, and water faucets. On the inside, spray around all the windows and doors again. Spray around all the plumbing under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom sink(s) and around the base of the toilet. Lightly spray any household plants. Make sure you spray up under the leaves where mosquitoes will find harborage.
How To Prevent Mosquitoes In The First Place?
The best mosquito is the one that’s never born, or never has a chance to settle down in your yard to start a family. Prevention takes a little time, but it’s easier and less frustrating than treating the mosquitoes after they’ve already got a beachhead on your property.
Pools of water
Don’t allow any standing water on your property. The only water around your house should be a properly chlorinated swimming pool. Other than that, don’t have any standing water. A running birdbath or moving water feature is fine as long as the water is constantly moving. Don’t let it stagnate. That’s a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Treating the water
If you have areas of standing water that you can’t get rid of – low areas in the yard, etc. – use the mosquito dunks to treat those areas. Use them as soon as the weather starts warming up in the spring and don’t stop until the first hard freeze in the winter.
These are a little old fashioned but they work if they’re used properly. Position the fly strips as high in the trees as you can, and as close to the edge of your property as you can. You want the mosquitoes to get stuck in them before they make it very far onto your property. Put about three rows of strips around your yard for three layers of protection.
What Are Some Frequently Asked Questions About Mosquitoes?
How long do mosquitoes live?
Depending on the species, mosquitoes can live several weeks to more than a month.
How many species of mosquitoes are there?
About 3000 worldwide.
What attracts mosquitoes to people?
Mosquitoes are drawn to Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is what we exhale when we breathe. They’re also drawn to warm bodies, dark clothing, perfumes, and deodorants.
Why do we itch after a mosquito bite?
It’s our body’s allergic reaction to the anticoagulant the mosquito injects when she feeds on us.