As a child, you may have read the children’s book Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. In this book, a mosquito lies to a lizard, which causes a chain reaction, eventually disrupting the entire animal kingdom. The story ends by saying that the mosquito continues to buzz in people’s ears to find out if everyone is still angry at him.
If this story were true, it may partially explain the anger many people hold toward mosquitoes. But we all know was have plenty of other reasons feel angry with them. Mosquitoes are especially annoying if they overpopulate your yard, ruining your chance to enjoy the outdoors. Let’s learn more about mosquitoes’ role in our ecosystem and how we can keep them safely at a distance.
What Is a Mosquito?
I’m sure you’ve seen-or received a bite from-a mosquito at some time in your life, but have you stopped to learn more about this interesting creature? Mosquitoes are midge-like flies (their name in Spanish literally means “little fly”).
There are more than 3000 species of mosquitoes, and only three species spread human disease. Surprisingly, most blood-seeking mosquitoes prefer biting horses, cattle, and birds rather than humans.
An adult mosquito lives 5 to 6 months. This doesn’t seem like a lot to humans, but for insects, it’s a long life.
The Danger of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes seem bad enough simply because of the annoying, itchy bites they give people. The itchiness comes from your body’s reaction to the saliva the mosquitoes inject when they take your blood. But that’s not the end of the story-mosquitoes can spread all sorts of blood-borne diseases, like the following:
West Nile Virus: This disease isn’t as dangerous as you may think, as most people do not experience symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people will develop a fever, and 1% of people may develop a neurological disease.
Malaria: Thousands of people die from malaria each year, most of whom live in Africa. Malaria, a parasite-caused disease, causes flu-like symptoms.
Yellow Fever: Also causing flu-like symptoms, yellow fever is a dangerous virus. It can also cause muscle pain and even liver damage.
Chikungunya Virus: Chikungunya happens most commonly in the Caribbean, but it has also spread to many U.S. states. It causes joint pain but rarely proves fatal.
- Dengue Fever: Like other mosquito-borne diseases, dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms and joint pain. In extreme cases, it can cause bleeding and low blood pressure.
Fortunately, the majority of mosquitoes will not infect you with a disease. But the more you can reduce or repel your mosquito population, the less likely you are to contract a mosquito-borne illness.
Mosquitoes Aren’t All Bad
Before we move on to strategies for eliminating mosquitoes, let’s cut the mosquito some slack. We’ve already noted that the majority of mosquitoes do not carry disease. But what about mosquito bites? It’s interesting to learn that that only female mosquitoes bite, and they do so to feed their children. So they don’t exactly bite you with malicious intent.
Still annoyed? Note that mosquito larvae serve as food for fish and other animals. Eliminating mosquitoes completely would disrupt the ecosystem.
How to Eliminate Mosquitoes
Despite their benefits, an overpopulation of mosquitoes is no fun to have in your yard. We’ve given you some tips for keeping them at bay:
Wear mosquito repellant while outdoors. Repellants contain substances such as DEET, SS220, and citronella oil. If you use DEET-based sprays, do not use it under clothing or on broken skin, and choose a product that contains less than 30% DEET.
If you plan to host an outdoor gathering, light citronella candles or torches to keep mosquitoes away.
Plant plants that naturally repel mosquitoes. These include basil, citrosa, lavender, lemon balm, and lime basil.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes will more likely bite.
- Eliminate areas of standing area in your yard, because mosquitoes need water to hatch. These areas include flower pots, bird baths, ponds, and swampy areas.
If these methods do not keep mosquitoes out of your yard, call a pest control professional. A professional can eliminate the cause of the problem not only by removing adult mosquitoes, but by removing mosquito larvae. He or she will also provide a treatment that will keep mosquitoes from congregating in your yard.
You can use chemicals and traps yourself, but this can prove dangerous if you have not first consulted with a professional. A pest control professional has the training to use only environmentally friendly pest control methods that won’t harm nearby plant or animal life.
Stop those mosquitoes from buzzing in your ears! If mosquitoes have overrun your yard and destroyed your summer vacation, take steps to repel them or lower their population. If these steps don’t work, call a pest control professional.