Tips to reduce mosquitoes around your yard

Nobody likes mosquitoes but rest assured, mosquitoes like us.
Mosquitoes are known for spreading heartworm disease to dogs and now the West Nile virus to horses and humans.
Because of the increased threat of West Nile virus, some municipalities have made the decision to spray pesticides throughout their communities to reduce mosquito larval populations.
The Town of Fort Frances has decided not to do this. So, as homeowners, we should all do our part in reducing mosquito populations around our yards and gardens.
Our local hardware and gardening supply stores sell pesticides that, when applied properly, will kill mosquitoes. These pesticides have to be applied according to the directions and in the correct conditions.
Most of the pesticides and herbicides applied by the homeowner are applied incorrectly and can endanger the health of you, your children, and pets. I recommend a more organic approach to mosquito control that is safer to you and your family.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still, often stagnant water. The eggs hatch and the mosquitoes spend their first weeks of life in their larval stage and then mature to an adult flying pest.
Good mosquito control can be achieved with diligent outdoor housekeeping practices.
Because mosquitoes need still water for their eggs to mature, a good way to eliminate many mosquito larvae is by removing all sources of still and stagnant water.
Look carefully around your yard—there often is water hiding in areas you that least expect. Do you have any old tires, barrels, containers, or planters that you are not using? These are obvious sources that will trap and hold stagnant water.
Empty the water from these containers and wash them thoroughly with a mild bleach solution to kill any remaining larvae.
Either dispose of these containers or store them properly to prevent water from collecting in them the future.
Look around your yard again—do you have any wood, lumber, garbage, or piles of leaves that are trapping water underneath them? If so, lift your wood and lumber piles up off of the ground by putting runners under the pile. This not only reduces puddles of water, but also is much better for your stored wood.
Remove all garbage, and accumulations of leaves and plant matter, from your yard and gardens. Water trapped under decaying matter can be enough to habour a population of mosquitoes. Put this plant waste in your composter or in the garbage.
Do you have large shade trees or evergreens, with branches all the way to the ground, in your yard? The moist, low-light conditions caused by these branches also can provide the right habitat for mosquitoes.
I suggest pruning these branches from the tree up a few feet from the ground. This will allow more air circulation and light penetration, eliminating mosquitoes.
Do you have a pond or water fountain in your yard? Every spring, remove the water from your fountain and clean the fountain, hoses, and pump with a mild solution of bleach. Refill your fountain with clean water.
Most importantly, keep the water moving in your fountain by running your pump regularly.
For your pond, you can drain and clean it each spring if the size allows. If not, make sure you clean the floating and settled debris from last fall from your pond.
Once again, keep the water circulating in your pond. This can be done by installing a pump and a fountain or waterfall in your pond. Still and stagnant water is the prime breeding area for mosquitoes.
Do you collect rainwater in barrels for watering your gardens? If so, make sure you have tight fitting lids or screens over the top of the barrel.
You already may have some mosquito control agents on your property and you may not even know it. Frogs and toads, for instance, are very effective mosquito and insect eaters.
Toads like cool shady areas in your garden, and you can lure toads by installing a toad house. Toad houses can be purchased in a garden centre or easily made.
Frogs and pond fish also eat mosquitoes, both in the larval form and the mature form. I have about 30 frogs living in my pond. They just showed up and multiplied.
Frogs and fish in your pond prefer some plants for shade.
Bats are a very effective way of controlling mosquitoes. Bats will eat more than their body weight in insects every night. Contrary to popular belief, bats do not fly into people’s hair or attack humans.
If you want to promote bats living in your yard, I suggest installing a bat house—a simple wooden structure that provides a dark, undisturbed area for the bats to roost during the daytime hours.
You can purchase a bat house in some of the local stores or easily construct one yourself with scrap wood. Consult some of the woodworking or gardening books in the library for building plans.
Don’t forget that many birds and spiders also eat mosquitoes and other insects. Most birds require some shelter to enjoy your yard. Shelter can easily be provided for birds by planting some shrubs.
Spiders trap many insects in their webs so try not to dismantle spider webs while working in your yard.
Remember to protect yourself by applying bug repellant to your exposed skin areas and wear clothing that covers you while working in the garden.
If you want to increase the populations of natural mosquito predators, do not use chemical pesticides and herbicides in your garden because they are harmful to birds, frogs, and toads.

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