In addition to being a nuisance, mosquitoes can also transmit diseases such as Heartworm disease in dogs and cats, West Nile and the Zika virus.
To control mosquitoes and reduce the chances of you and your pets being bitten, there are three things you need to:
- Eliminate breeding sites
- Reduce exposure
- Use repellents
Eliminate Breeding Sites
One of the most important things to remember is that mosquitoes need stagnant water to reproduce. No water, no reproduction. Control then, is based on removing standing water, which can serve as a breeding site.
• Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns, or in pet dishes for more than 2 days.
• In areas where standing water cannot be avoided, use products that contain the insect growth regulator (IGR) methoprene. This stops the development of juvenile mosquitoes into adults.
• Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or eliminate puddles that remain for several days.
• Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.
• Reduce mosquito breeding in ornamental ponds.
o Stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows
o Treat the pond with Mosquito Dunks. They will not harm plants or fish, but they will help eradicate mosquito larvae.
• Add a feature such as a waterfall, fountain, or aerator. Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs. Flush livestock water troughs twice a week.
Reduce Exposure to Adult Mosquitoes
• Mosquitoes are a favorite food for bats and birds, so placing bat houses and bird houses in your area is a great way to decrease the mosquito population naturally, without any toxic chemicals.
• Keep pets indoors during peak mosquito hours, which are dawn, dusk, and early evening.
• Reduce light at night since light tends to attract mosquitoes.
• Adult mosquitoes prefer to rest where it is cool, dark, and damp, so keeping grass cut and weeds and brush under control, may encourage mosquitoes to find shelter elsewhere.
• Consider a mosquito trap: These devices emit various combinations of vibrations, carbon dioxide, scent, heat, and moisture, which attract mosquitoes and other insects. A vacuum device then sucks the insects into a net or cylinder where they are trapped and die.
Repellents are chemical substances that mosquitoes will avoid. Repellents can be useful as a way to reduce the risk of being bitten. Because repellents are potentially toxic, be sure to read the label carefully and use the product according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Natural repellents for the environment: Products containing oil of sandalwood or citronella, such as Mosquito Sticks, outdoor candles, torches, and coils are used to repel mosquitoes outdoors. When burned, these products produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes. Unfortunately, they are only effective when used under windless conditions.
• Permethrin-containing repellents for clothing: Repellents containing permethrin are recommended for use on articles such as clothing, shoes, bednets, and camping gear. Permethrin repels and kills mosquitoes as well as ticks and other arthropods. DO NOT use permethrin products on human skin.
• Repellents for pets: There are several mosquito repellents available for pets. NOTE: Human repellents containing DEET are not recommended for pets and should be avoided. Additionally, since no repellent is 100% effective, heartworm preventatives are still necessary even if a mosquito repellent is used.
o To protect your dog, look for repellents formulated especially for pets that contain either permethrins or pyrethrins.
o To protect your cat, look for products that contain pyrethrin, such as bioSpot Flea & Tick Spray. NOTE: Permethrins are NOT safe for cats.
Controlling mosquitoes in your environment is a daunting task. But by eliminating breeding sites and reducing your exposure to adult mosquitoes, along with using appropriate repellent products, you can offer yourself and your pets the best protection possible.
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff