There really is no critter more annoying than the pesky mosquito. At this time of year in Calgary, the moment you step on your lawn you’re likely to see a swarm erupt with every footfall. The abnormally wet spring in this city has left the skeeters more robust than usual, too, and mosquito repellent is an essential for all of our landscape maintenance company’s crews. Mosquitoes never relent – especially if you’re trying to get some gardening done and have to remain still for half a second – and their bites hurt, itch, and also carry dangerous diseases. So far, 2012 was the worst year on record for reported cases of West Nile virus in the United States, and Alberta also had three cases of its own.
Our clients – both personal and commercial – often ask how to get rid of mosquitoes so they can more fully enjoy their yard or business’s outdoor space. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take that will not only will reduce the number of buzzing blood-suckers around, but can also help beautify your landscape.
- Avoid standing water. All mosquitoes breed in standing water, and under ideal conditions can grow to adult in less than a week. Adults of some mosquito species remain near their breeding site, others can come from far away. Getting rid of all standing water leaves them with nowhere to breed, and they will look elsewhere for accommodations.
- Bird baths and fish ponds. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, bird baths attract birds as well as mosquitoes, and bird are ravenous bug-eaters. A yard with a healthy bird population will also be kept nicely free of a number of bugs and pests. To avoid the mosquitoes taking over, make sure you change the water in your bath at least once a week. Stock your fish pond with a bug-eating variety, and keep the water aerated and moving to deter the laying of eggs.
- Mosquito misting systems. These devices are spray nozzles that can be mounted around the perimeter of your yard, creating a protective “fence”. They can be mounted anywhere and are attached together by tubing that contains a pesticide. Mosquito misters can be set to spray on a timer or can be operated by remote control. Be careful, though, as EPA-approved pesticides – while not harmful to humans – can be harmful to your plants.
- Air curtains. An air curtain will not help with the mosquitoes in your yard, but it will prevent them from getting in your house. They’re perfect for those who like to leave their doors open to watch their kids or pets, or to even catch the occasional evening summer breeze. They work by angling air streams away from the areas they are protecting, thereby “encouraging” all kinds of flying pests to alter their route away from your door.
- Bug zappers. These contraptions have been commonplace for decades now, and remain popular with many. Mosquitoes and several other types of pests are suckers for ultraviolet light, and the blue hue of the zapper is simply irresistible. When they try to approach the light they pass through an electrified mesh and are electrocuted. Although effective, they are noisy, and many people find the constant “zap” sound almost as irritating as the bugs themselves.
- Mosquito magnets. Relatively new on the mosquito-killing scene, mosquito magnets attract mosquitoes, then trap them. They already have a loyal fan base that swears by their effectiveness. Mosquito magnets use propane to create carbon dioxide, which is what draws mosquitoes to us humans. Once they get near to the magnet, they are then trapped, and they quickly dehydrate and die.
- Electronic (ultrasonic) devices. There is some argument as to whether or not ultrasonic mosquito repellent devices actually work, however some believe that very strong ultrasonic sound can keep bugs away silently and without the use of any chemicals.
- Tiki torches and citronella oil. These two work hand-in-hand to not only create a nice ambience for your yard at night, but to also keep you from spilling your drink while swatting flies. Citronella masks scents that attract mosquitoes, preventing them from coming too close. Other plants that work the same way are marigolds, catnip, some herbs and ageratum.
- Keep grass trimmed. Lawn care is actually a big part of keeping mosquitoes from taking over your yard. Try watering in the very early morning so that the moisture has a chance to evaporate during the day. Watering at night, when it’s cooler, allows for water to collect and sit, which exactly what mosquitoes hope for to breed. Birds also like yards where the lawn is cut often. Each time you cut your grass millions of microscopic little bugs are released into the air, and birds love to dive in for a feast. They can use the clippings for their nests!
- Bat houses. If you’re not squeamish, bat houses are ideal. They don’t take up a lot of room (North American bats are quite small) and they feed solely on insects. Some bats can catch more than 600 mosquitoes in an hour!
Mirage Landscaping has been serving both home- and business-owners in the Calgary area for three generations. The owner has years of experience in the design and construction of landscapes in the Calgary community to bring to your project.