Late August is the time that most of the mosquito-transmitted diseases begin to rise. There have been reports of Eastern equine encephalitis found in mosquitoes in southern Massachusetts.
I haven’t heard of any tested mosquitoes in our area that have tested positive for EEE or West Nile virus. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not any mosquitoes that are infected with these viruses around here.
This means that you should be looking at minimizing any breeding areas in your yard. If everyone minimized breeding areas in their yards, it would go a long way in helping stem the rise of adult mosquitoes.
Mosquito adults lay their eggs in areas of standing water. You may not think that you have any areas of standing water in your yard. The truth is that you probably do.
Many years ago, I read that a bottle cap with water in it would be an area that mosquitoes would lay their eggs. You need to look for things like empty buckets that have water in them. Birdbaths can be a source if you don’t regularly empty them out and refill them, as are water garden features that don’t have fish in them. If the gutters on your house don’t completely drain all the water after a storm, they can provide enough water to allow mosquitoes to breed. If you have old tires in your yard, they can fill up with rainwater and provide a breeding ground.
As you can see, there is probably at least one area where mosquitoes can breed in your yard. Now, let’s figure out what you need to be doing to make your yard less of a mosquito breeding area.
The most obvious thing you need to do is eliminate the standing water. The simplest solution is to dump out the water. If you have buckets, etc., dump the water out and put them away. Empty out kiddie pools, and put them away until needed again. Empty the water out of those old tires, and dispose of the tires.
Now, you may have some areas where you cannot empty the water out to prevent the breeding areas. I am talking about the poor draining gutters and the water garden features. However, there is a solution, and it is an organic solution.
There is a bacterium that is called Bti. I could give you the Latin name for it, but if you go looking for Bti, it is a product that is easy to find. The bacterium was discovered many years ago.
You add the bacterium to water, and it will kill the mosquito larvae that hatch from the eggs laid by mosquitoes. It is not harmful to just about anything else. You may have heard about the marshes being sprayed to kill the mosquito larvae. The product they use is Bti.
You can buy this product in many independent lawn and garden stores. When my garden center was open, we sold a lot of this product. The most commonly found product is called Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits. There are other brands, so all you need to do is check the label to see if it is Bti.
The Bti is added to the water. If you buy the dunks, you will see that they look like a doughnut. The dunks are tossed into water, and they will release the Bti over a period of 30 days. These would be ideal to put into your gutters. You can stand on the ground and toss one into a gutter. The dunks could also be tossed into any larger areas of standing water because each one will cover 100 square feet. The Mosquito Bits are granules that you could put into your water garden feature or into those tires while you wait to get rid of them.
If you work at putting this product around your yard, you will help eliminate breeding areas for the eggs that are being laid by mosquitoes. If the eggs hatch out and the Bti kills the larvae, there will be fewer adult mosquitoes.
Even if there are ultimately no mosquitoes infected by EEE or West Nile virus in our area, you will be making it easier to enjoy being out in your yard.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.
Tim Lamprey has worked in the lawn and garden industry for 45 years.