“More than most other living things, the mosquito is a self-serving creature. She doesn’t aerate the soil, pollinate plants or even serve as an essential food item for some other animal. She has no “purpose” other than to please herself.” –quote from the book MOSQUITO by Dr. Andrew Spielman and Michael D’Antonio.
The Vampires: Mosquito History
Perhaps no other creature wishes for and craves rain as does the mosquito. Every kind of mosquito depends on rainfall events to survive. I like to compare the different kinds of mosquitoes to the different kinds of birds. For instance, there are owls and ducks and hummingbirds. You wouldn’t expect to find a duck or an owl sharing the same habitat; or find either one of them hovering in front of flowers. The same is true for the different species of mosquitoes.
Broadly speaking there are three main groups of mosquitoes - the salt marsh mosquitoes, the freshwater, floodwater mosquitoes and the artificial container mosquitoes. This classification refers to the breeding sites of the different species, which are too numerous to mention. So whether it’s a rain pool in the woods, a low marsh above mean high tide, or a discarded tire in your backyard, mosquitoes of all types depend on the rain to breed.
When I worked as an entomologist in mosquito control, I used to do a school mosquito control demonstration program for students in the fourth and fifth grades. Often they would ask me “what are mosquitoes good for?”
Well, the right answer would be, “it appears mosquitoes are basically flying hypodermic needles, created to spread microorganisms from one living thing to another, especially viruses”.
Of course that answer is much too scary, so I would say something like “Well, when you don’t listen to your parents and come home when you’re supposed to, mosquitoes are there to help them out.”
This usually got a big laugh from the 10-year-olds, having some fun at their parent’s expense with the mosquito guy.
Here in the United States, we can still laugh, but the medical importance of mosquitoes is no joke. Most people know about West Nile virus and malaria and they kind of know about yellow fever and maybe they’ve sort of heard of dengue fever. The truth is you really don’t want to know the details of some of the diseases mosquitos’ vector in the tropics. You don’t want those images in your head.
It has been said that of all the people who have ever lived, half have been killed by mosquitoes. More deaths than those caused by all the wars ever fought or all natural catastrophes combined or even the holocaust of the Black Death (plague). Mosquitoes have truly been the Angels of Death over the ages before modern medicine and science could bring their ravages under control.
The Vampires: Fighting Mosquitoes
If you have a bad mosquito problem it’s not that hard for you, the homeowner, to drastically reduce the mosquitoes safely and effectively.
If you have a clogged gutter or anything that holds water on your property, that container is now or will be breeding mosquitoes. Empty out all the water holding receptacles on your property and try to work with your neighbors to do the same.
Rain pools in woods and pastures will breed mosquitoes. A sample dip with a white container will clearly show “mosquito wigglers” if they’re there. Go to the internet if you’re not sure what they look like. You can try to get the local mosquito control district to treat the breeding sites with safe, effective larvicide oil. If that doesn’t work and it may not be possible for a variety of reasons, you can do it yourself, (with the owner’s permission).
Use a backpack sprayer and some Bonide™, (a light mineral oil especially made to kill mosquito larva). Add some fish emulsion, (10:1 ratio oil to emulsion). All you need to do is follow the label on the Bonide ™ container and produce a nice, light film on the water’s surface.
The oil breaks the surface tension of the water so the mosquito larva can’t hang there and breathe and the little “wigglers” sink and drown. The oil won’t hurt beneficial organisms such as tree frog tadpoles breeding in the pond. The smell of the fish emulsion, (even after the pool is dried up), scares the mother mosquito out of laying her eggs where fish might eat her offspring. Go to www.noamkelp.com for the best fish emulsion.
Wind and sun dry out mosquitoes and kill them quickly. During the heat of the day mosquitoes hide in the shady, damp areas of your property. Examples would be under stairs, decks, shrubs, hedges, woodpiles, rock piles, or the deep furrows of an oak tree near your patio.
A female mosquito rests on a vertical surface like a wall or tree waiting for her prey. After she has fed she flies back to her perch, once again resting vertically, butt down and leaks out all the water from the blood meal, saving only the protein-rich corpuscles.
A safe and effective way to control mosquitoes harboring on your property is to spray them with castile soap blended with essential oils. Go to your nearest Health Food Store and order a gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap™. The best kind to get would be the Eucalyptus, Lavender or Peppermint in that order.
Mix the soap with water and at 2 ounces to 1 gallon water in a hand sprayer. If you use a hose end sprayer fill the container half- full of water and half -full of soap and set the dial on 2oz. For every gallon of water you spray through the hose it will suck up 2 oz. of the soapy mixture. You can also use dishwashing soap, (not liquid laundry soap), Lemon JOY™, being the best.
Content provided by: Nature's Way Natural Pest Control, Inc