It’s time to begin a weekly inspection of the yard, looking for any place mosquito larva could grow. Mosquitoes lay up to 250 eggs at a time in still water, and the eggs will hatch in 7 to 10 days. If standing water is eliminated weekly many mosquitoes will be kept from breeding in the first place.
Here are places to look:
- Wheelbarrows (stand them up), tires, hubcaps, toys, garden equipment, tarps, plastic sheeting, pipes, drains, boats and canoes. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling bins. Remove saucers under plants. Check for any leaks in hoses or irrigation systems. Even out low places in your yard so there is no where water would accumulate. Clean your house gutters and eaves. Buy “Bt” pellets for your bird bath; it won’t hurt birds. Bacillus thuringiensis, which is present naturally in the soil worldwide, has been used for 60 years and is permitted for use by organic farmers. It’s most effective on catepillar-type insects which includes mosquito larvae.
- Close septic tanks tightly. Be sure that the cleanout plug or inspection hatch is not open even a crack. Cover rainwater barrels with mesh or screen. Change water in animal watering dishes daily. Turn over children’s wading pools when not in use. Remove vegetation or an obstruction in a drainage ditch that would prevent flow of water. Put caps on chain link fence pipes.
- Check lawn ornaments. Cover machinery. Trim and thin shrubbery so mosquitoes cannot hide in them as easily.
Do this inspection every week during mosquito season. Watch for dead birds and report the finding to the County Health Department. It could be a sign of the West Nile Virus.
Educate children and neighborhood associations in this breeding ground survey to make our yards safer for all of us.
Mary Wilkins, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service