I saw a news report recently that said that the weather we have in Indiana makes for almost perfect mosquito breeding conditions.
It’s time for the annual West Nile Scare.
That’s a pretty scary virus, and sometimes it kills you. We humans catch this disease mostly from mosquitoes when they stick their proboscis into our skin – and suck our blood away. The mosquito must be already infected with the disease of course, and these insects get infected when they feed on birds that carry the disease.
Mosquitoes breed by laying eggs in standing water. If the water’s moving, like in a running stream, the insect can’t land long enough to deposit the eggs. So they need to find water that has no (or has very little) motion to it.
Bird baths where the water doesn’t get changed on a regular basis, old tires, buckets, and non-draining flower pots that sit around the yard collecting water are perfect locations for mosquito breeding.
Other potential breeding spots are swimming pools, and wading pools, that sit unused.
But right now Indiana suffers drought conditions. We’ve had very little rainfall, and most everything is dried up.
In fact at the moment we’re banned by local governments from watering our lawns because the water levels are so low that the water companies can’t keep up with the water usage. I think I only mowed my grass once this season because it just isn’t growing – it’s crunchy, and it’s brown.
Take a look at the banks of our reservoirs, and you see how low the water actually is. I’ve seen areas where the level is so low that docks, and even a few boats, sit on dry ground. Some people didn’t get their boats pulled out of the lakes before the water levels dropped. Until we get enough rain to fill the lakes back to normal levels those boats aren’t going anywhere.
So how can a drought like this create such ideal conditions for mosquito breeding?
Mainly we had warm weather starting early in the spring, and that made for ideal weather for the egg laying, and hatching. And too, we had a few rains early on that filled up those bird baths, buckets, and old tires. And a lot of those became standing pools of water – and magnets to mosquitoes heavy with eggs.
Last evening as I was doing some maintenance on my motor home I noticed that the mosquito numbers are suddenly high. Thinking back over the past few weeks I realized that I see more and more of the insects every day. Something to watch out for.
You have quite a few options for keeping the mosquito population down. You also have some opportunities to keep them from spoiling your backyard activities, and cookout fun.
If you have any old tires laying around get rid of them, or store them under cover where they’ll stay dry. Empty any item that holds water such as buckets, planters, and bird baths – then turn them upside down so they won’t collect rain. If you have a swimming or wading pool that you aren’t using drain it. Make sure you don’t have anything around your property where water can stand for any length of time.
Since water stagnates, and starts stinking when it stands motionless over long periods doing the above will help keep your air fresh too.
Bug lights don’t attract mosquitoes much, so they have little effect. But these insects are weak fliers, and fans positioned around your patio, or entertainment area, help blow the bugs away. Smoke pots repel the pest to some extent, but do nothing to keep the insect’s populations down.
By taking action early you help keep mosquitoes from ruining your leisure activities, and you go a long way toward protecting your family, and you, from West Nile Virus.
For more information on controlling nuisance insects, including minimizing the opportunities for mosquito breeding check out Bug Be Gone.