A common pest across Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC are mosquitoes. Our area is actually home to almost 60 different breeds of mosquitoes. Besides causing an itchy bump, mosquito bites can also spread disease malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile virus. For the first time in nearly 50 years, endemic cases of dengue fever and malaria are in the United States.
Mosquitoes need water to reproduce. Mosquito eggs are laid on stagnant water and must go through a development cycle that requires them to remain in the water until they become adult mosquitoes. If they are deprived of the water at any time before adult mosquitoes emerge (whether it drains away, evaporates or is dumped), no mosquitoes will result.
So what can we do in our own backyard to help combat the mosquito population? One of the best ways to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard is to implement a regular program to dispose of accumulated water. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, there are steps you can take around your property to help rid the area of mosquitoes:
Gutters are one of the most overlooked breeding sites for mosquitoes around homes. Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely, and replace old gutter systems that don’t drain properly.
- Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used for playground equipment.
- Store plastic wading pools inside or turn them upside down when not in use.
- Turn over or remove clay pots and plastic containers.
- Dispose of all empty beverage containers, plastic wrappers, discarded toys, etc.
- Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to drain the water.
- Pump out bilges in boats. Turn canoes and small boats upside down for storage.
- Replace water in bird baths at least twice a week.
- Remove pet food and water dishes that are not being used.
- Don't leave garbage can lids lying upside down. Be sure water does not collect in the bottom of garbage cans.
- Flush water in the bottom of plant holders twice a week.
- Fix dripping outside water faucets.
- Turn wheelbarrows upside down when stored outside.
- Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems.
- Check ornamental ponds, tree holes and water-holding low areas for mosquito larvae.
Taking a few precautions to eliminate standing water around your home and yard can significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes and lessen your chances of contracting one of the many diseases mosquitoes transmit.