It’s been a great summer so far in Calgary, especially if you are a mosquito. The whiney little biters, which have led a somewhat solitary existence in the city for the past couple years, have made a very annoying comeback in 2022. A recent Calgary Herald article put the mosquito count at more than eight times the amount found in 2021, and it’s still only just July. Pest control officials collected 12,000 mosquitoes from four traps in just one week, which completely dwarfs the count of 1,500 for all of last year. And given that we keep getting moisture followed by a few days of warm weather, we may not have seen the worst of it yet.
The City of Calgary describes mosquitoes as a seasonal insect with numbers that start low in the spring and peak in mid-summer. They most often breed in temporary pools formed by rainfall or melting snow, such as in puddles, in ditches, in irrigation pools, and so on. Eggs can lie dormant for years, just waiting for a bit of moisture to come and provide them their ultimate breeding ground. Other species breed in containers such as bird baths and rain barrels. Calgary is home to more than 20 different types of mosquitoes, and their presence is felt the most on the east end of the city, where there is more habitat for them to take advantage of.
Every spring, the City of Calgary works to reduce the mosquito population by applying a pest-specific product that targets mosquito larvae by air. They spray large areas of standing water that have previously tested for high numbers. The products they use have no effect on any other animals or the environment, and are registered and regulated. The early treatment program helps stop the first “swarm,” but given the right conditions – like the 130 millimetres of rain we received in June – existing mosquitoes will make more larvae, which will eventually hatch. Female mosquitoes can produce up to 700 eggs in their lifespan, which is only a few months. They are the ones that are doing the biting, as they need meals of blood in order to support their eggs.
Don’t forget that they are not entirely a nuisance. Mosquitoes do help feed Calgary’s bird population and form an important part of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, some (the Culex species) carry the West Nile virus, which can be transferred to both birds and humans. Mid-July to mid-August have the greatest risk for West Nile Virus transmission, and one in five people who are infected become seriously ill.
Keep your yard free of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes prefer from between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius during the day to hatch and thrive, and roughly 20 degrees Celsius at night. Given these are the exact temperatures predicted for Calgary for the next several days, expect to be battling the buzzers every time you step outside.
Keep your personal space special and relaxing and get rid of mosquitoes in your yard by:
- Mowing your lawn at about three inches high. Mosquitoes like to rest and hide in longer grass, especially when it is hot out, for the shade and the dampness of the soil.
- Properties should be nicely weeded and pruned. Mosquitoes also like to take refuge in taller weeds and in dense foliage.
- Fans can help keep away mosquitoes. They are bad flyers if it’s windy, so a simple fan can literally just blow them away.
- Go around and ensure there is no standing water anywhere in your yard. Mosquitoes don’t need a lot of water to breed — they can lay 100 eggs in just a bottle cap full of water. Check your gutters to ensure they are draining properly and also ensure downspouts aren’t causing water to pool anywhere.
- If you are outdoors at night, don’t turn on lights near windows and doors. This will invite mosquitoes to conglomerate near entry points.
- If every time you step out on your grass a giant plume of mosquitoes appear, you may have too much thatch. This is another reason why lawns should be raked regularly.
- It is more important than ever to water during the coolest times of the day during mosquito season. Don’t give them the moisture they need when temperatures are right.
- Certain plants are natural bug repellants, some because of their heavy fragrances, others because of irritating chemical qualities. Placing plants such as citronella, bee balm, lavender, American beautyberry, catnip, marigolds, eucalyptus, and peppermint in shady and wet areas can make a huge difference.
- An old-fashioned bug zapper where you hang out most in the yard will catch a lot of pests, and there are many varieties that work quietly, or even silently.
- Buy some tiki torches for a resort-like atmosphere. The smoke helps repel mosquitoes and several are available in the lavender and citronella scents that mosquitoes loathe.
- If you have a pond or a birdbath, try a larvicide dunk or a liquid larvicide. Run everything through the filter regularly or change the water often.
- The oil in cedar mulch helps keeps mosquitoes away, plus cedar smells amazing. Mulch is also excellent for not allowing too much moisture to settle in your soil, rather releasing it slowly over time.
- Check your screens for holes and flaws to keep mosquitoes out of the inside of your home.
- When sitting outside, wear long sleeves and long pants in lighter colours, use a DEET-based repellant of between 20% and 30%, and/or apply oil-based repellants (such as citronella) every 30 minutes.
Mirage Landscaping serves southeast Calgary
Mirage Landscaping’s landscape construction services include sod and tree installation, irrigation servicing, patio and retaining wall construction, as well and landscape maintenance. We specialize in serving the southeast area of Calgary, including the communities of Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Chaparral Valley, Copperfield, Cranston, Douglasdale, Heritage Pointe, Lake Bonavista, Mahogany, McKenzie Lake, Mackenzie Towne, Maple Ridge, New Brighton, Odgen/Lynwood/Millican, Parkland, Riverbend, Sundance, Walden, and Willow Park.