Houses for the bats were built under the bridge a long time ago, and under the bridges that preceded it. The bats were employed as mosquito control devices to counter the illnesses those mosquitoes were spreading back in the early history of the Lone Star State. Mosquitoes spread such diseases as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasis, various types of encephalitis, dog heartworm, and West Nile virus to humans and animals.
So there’s one way to control mosquitoes in your area: invite bats over for dinner. You can also build bird boxes to attract mosquito-eating birds. Swifts and purple martins enjoy daily all-you-can-eat mosquito feasts.
Another thing you may need to do is find out where those mosquitoes come from and make that area less attractive for breeding. The little devils lay their eggs either in standing bodies of water or on damp soil that is regularly flooded. Water is vital to mosquito maturation. If you live near a lake or wetlands, you may just have to deal with being bitten. If you have a lot of standing puddles or drainage ditches nearby, consider filling them in. Check your property well for any standing water and get rid of it.
Mosquito Hunting, Deterrents, and Traps
If standing water is necessary for watering animals or providing irrigation, consider stocking these areas with copepods. These are tiny, aquatic, voracious predators of mosquito larvae, such crustaceans as miniature shrimp, crabs, lobster, and crayfish. Copepods are widespread in both fresh and salt water habitats and can be transferred to water holding areas to control mosquito production.
Ornamental ponds tend to become mosquito breeding grounds. You can keep the mosquito larvae population under control by stocking the pond with bright, exotic fish or with less exotic small native fish which are not as susceptible to bird predation. Another option would be adding a pump to agitate the water – mosquitoes will not breed in moving water.
Adult female mosquitoes require blood to reproduce, so they seek out creatures with circulatory systems. Their quest is enabled by the fact they are attracted to the signature of carbon dioxide that humans and animals emit when we exhale. Traps have been developed using this principle.
One such trap, a very expensive device, uses propane cylinders to generate the CO2 gas and also power a generator. The generator runs the intake fans and the electric zapper that fries the mosquitoes. The benefit of this device is that the trap can be placed close to the source of mosquito activity to intercept the bloodsuckers before they reach your house. A less expensive version runs on house power but therefore must be placed closer to the living area. A problem with klamboe both is that they may attract more mosquitoes into an area than the traps are equipped to catch. Here is a do-it-yourself mosquito trap in case you decide to give it a shot.
Mosquito Bites and Your Health
In temperate areas, like most of the United States, mosquitoes may be considered a health risk, but compared to the other risks we face daily, relatively minor. In tropical and subtropical areas on the other hand, they can spread more death and suffering than the grim reaper. More than three million deaths and 300 – 500 million cases, most of malaria, are still reported annually worldwide.
It is believed that mosquitoes in these areas could be better controlled and possibly eliminated through the judicious use of a chemical called DDT. Unfortunately, the insecticide was so over-used in the 1940’s and 1950’s that it caused much environmental harm and was therefore banned in most of the world.
Your best bet for getting rid of the threat of mosquito bites is to:
1. Keep grass cut short and the banks of running streams free from weeds.
2. Wear long-sleeve shirts and full-length trousers out-of-doors.
3. Stay indoors behind screens in the early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
4. Keep your dogs and cats indoors with you during periods of maximum mosquito activity.
5. If you don’t have, or prefer not to use, air conditioning, keep your windows and outside doors properly screened.
6. If you’re living in an area of heavy infestation, you may consider using mosquito netting over your beds.
7. Use a mosquito repellent.
DEET: Meta-N,N-diethyl toluamide