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 in the picnic itself, but are more interested in you.
All is not lost in the seasonal battle between the species, though. While you cannot eradicate them, you can lower their numbers to a more tolerable level.
So, one of the first things to do is look at your property through the eyes of a mosquito.
Mosquitoes like stagnant water to complete their life cycle. They need about seven days to complete their life cycle, and their larvae need very little water to grow.
So look around your yard for standing water and anywhere water might be. Saucers under potted plants, birdbaths and kids’ toys such as buckets and shovels are all good places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Next empty out the items holding water and turn over anything to keep it from holding water. Change the birdbath water every three to four days.
For areas such as water features that cannot be drained regularly, use “mosquito dunks.” They contain Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) that will keep the mosquito larvae from completing the life cycle.
They are safe to use around fish habitats, making them appropriate for koi ponds. This is same type of biological control is used to kill caterpillars in your landscape or garden.
Adult mosquitoes also hang out in areas of thick vegetation, especially in shaded areas such as wood lines. Cut your grass, trim the shrubs and thin out the canopy to limit livable places for the mosquitoes.
In addition, you can treat the areas with chemicals labeled for mosquito control every 10 to 14 days. Some products include carbaryl (Sevin), or bifinthrin (Ortho Bug-B-Gon Max Lawn and Garden Insect Killer). Others are available, too. Just search your home improvement store if you have trouble finding the items I listed.
Some things that do not work are bug zappers, although they can be fun for the kids and grandkids. Bug zappers tend to kill moths and beetles but very few mosquitoes.
Other products emit carbon dioxide or high-frequency ultrasonic sounds. The carbon dioxide emitters capture a lot of bugs, but most are not the biting female mosquitoes. In fact, it is thought they might bring more into an area at times instead of attracting the mosquitoes already there.
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, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.