The worst thing you can add to a picnic or outdoor party is a mosquito. Not just one mosquito, but a whole swarm of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are not too interested with the picnic itself, but are more interested in you.
All is not lost in the seasonal battle between the species though. However, you will not eradicate them all, but you can lower their numbers to a more tolerable level.
One of the first things you need to do is to look at your property through the eyes of a mosquito. Mosquitoes like stagnant water in order to complete their life cycle. So obviously look around your yard for standing water.
Look everywhere you think there might be water. Saucers under your potted plants, birdbaths and kids’ toys such as buckets and shovels are all good places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Even depressions in trees can serve as such a place.
Mosquitoes need about seven days to complete their life cycle, so change birdbath water every three to four days. Turn over anything so it cannot hold water. Mosquito larvae need very little water to grow, so do not overlook anything, even the seemingly smallest of places.
For areas like water features that cannot be drained regularly, you can use “Mosquito Dunks.” They contain Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) that will keep the mosquito larvae from completing its life cycle. They are safe to use around fish habitats so they are safe for koi ponds. This is same type of biological control used to kill caterpillars in your landscape or garden.
Adult mosquitoes like to hang out in areas of thick vegetation, especially in shaded areas like along wood lines. Keep your grass cut and shrubs maintained by trimming and thinning out the canopy.
In addition, you can treat these areas with chemicals every 10 to 14 days. Anything labeled for mosquito control you can use. Some products that come to mind are carbaryl (Sevin) or bifinthrin (Ortho Bug-B-Gon Max Lawn and Garden Insect Killer). There are others so keep looking if you have trouble finding these.
Something that does not work is a bug zapper, products that emit carbon dioxide or the high frequency ultrasonic sound devices, although they can be good fun for the kids and grandkids.
Bug zappers tend to kill moths and beetles but very few mosquitoes. The carbon dioxide emitters capture a lot of bugs, but most of them are not the biting female mosquitoes. In fact, it is thought that they might bring more into an area at times instead of just attracting the mosquitoes that are already there. And the ultrasonic sound devices have never been proven to work.
Good luck with the battle with the mosquitoes this summer. It will be a continuous fight until frost.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column appears biweekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.