Q. For many summers we have had a problem with mosquitoes. They are outside in the yard area and seem to get inside as the doors open and close. I sometimes see or catch them in the kitchen or other rooms of the house. Not only are they an aggravation bu t I am allergic to the tiny critters and have been since birth, which cause me inflammation, swelling the size of golf balls, incessant itching, and sometimes fever.
The wooded area, with dead leaves beneath, to the rear of the house (north side) receives little or no sun. We do not have standing water, old tires etc. This summer has been dry, as you know, but still I manage to have a half dozen bites a week. There h ave been times that I've had dozens of bites in a short period of time. I rarely go outside but to quickly water two tomato plants or some hanging baskets.
This summer we have put an addition onto the house. This evening I went outside to sweep the new deck for a minute and saw them flying about. I swatted two (they were blood-filled) on my person, so I know I've been bitten once again.
Is there some procedure we can follow or some insecticide we can use to reduce or eliminate the population of mosquitoes? Please help, as I almost dread summer, where it has always been my favorite season.
A. Like you, by the time I see them on me the damage has been done and I despise them. If they have a function in the biological scheme of things I am unaware of it. When I started framing houses around here long ago I quickly learned to carry a can of t he repellent “OFF!” by Johnson Wax or be driven off the jobsite badly bitten, especially if I arrived early in the morning. All these years later I still carry a can of it in the car year around. It comes in handy from time to time.
West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease nationally, La Crosse encephalitis and other infections spread by mosquitoes are a threat to children so avoiding bites for the whole family isn’t just about annoying itching. It can get worse.
What to do around the house is make sure breeding grounds that you may have overlooked get eliminated. One breeding area commonly overlooked is standing water in gutters-- you don’t see it but it may be there.
You noted a wooded area close by and adult mosquitoes like to rest on leaves, even grass blades, so keep things cut and trimmed near the house as best you can.
Some people invest in insect electrocuter lights-- bug zappers. The way they work is bugs are attracted to the light and when they get to it are zapped. If you get one place it away from where you will be so bugs are drawn away. How well they work is a m atter of conjecture.
Mosquito control by birds, bats, dragonflies and frogs has been touted, however there is no documented study to show that predators consume enough mosquitoes to be effective. But every bit counts.
There are expensive mosquito targeting traps available that mimic what attracts mosquitoes to us-- the carbon dioxide we exhale when we breathe-- and draws them into a net where they dry out. They don’t use a zapping grid or insecticides. They start at a bout $300 and go up from there. Again, there is little scientific data as to how truly effective these gizmos really are, so buyer beware.
The storied effectiveness of Skin So Soft cream by Avon as a mosquito repellent has been shown to be somewhat of an urban legend. DEET containing creams last up to five hours but the standard Skin So Soft worked for only about ten minutes. They market so me with a non-DEET repellent but serious mosquito repelling involves products containing DEET. The New England Journal of Medicine states, “Only products containing DEET are dependable for long-lasting protection after a single application.”
Overall, mosquito control in a locality is more an exercise of organized mosquito control and that involves spraying on a widespread scale and not just one yard. But I’m willing to bet that individual efforts help some.