Homeowners need to get rid of mosquitoes

April 25, 2014 

Mosquito season has begun early this year.

The presence of the aggressive daytime biting mosquitoes (genus Aedes) that can carry deadly dengue fever as well as those mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus in our area is alarming.

Homeowners and home gardeners must make every effort to eliminate breeding places for mosquito larvae and to control for mosquito larvae populations.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs to hatch as larvae in standing water.

The standing water can be shallow puddles that never fully dry up or abandoned pools — the amount and depth of water is not an important factor — all they need for breeding grounds is water that doesn't flow or move.

Check your property for even the smallest spots of standing water. Turn your wheelbarrow and your old container pots upside down.

Wash out plant saucers with a blast from the hose as you water the plants. Dispose of old tires (properly, please) and check sprinkler patterns after irrigating to find hidden puddles.

If you have birdbaths, water troughs, small still ponds or any other permanent bodies of standing water, use Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis products to kill mosquito larvae.

Bt is a microbial insecticide that occurs naturally in certain soils. It stops the digestive process and the larvae starve to death. (Bt kurstaki destroys the digestive system of all caterpillars).

There are two formulations of Bt israeliensis available. The granular formulation kills mosquito larvae within 24 hours; the dunk or tablet form takes up to two weeks to kill all the mosquito larvae, but each tablet is effective for 30 days. The dunks can be tied to remain in place.

You may need to use both products if you already see evidence of mosquito larvae (tiny wiggly things in the water) or see mosquitoes flying.

Bt israeliensis is not toxic to humans, aquatic animals or wildlife.

The mosquito abatement districts may be spraying insecticides to kill mosquitoes.

The districts have not yet publicized the names of the insecticide sprays they plan to use.

The mosquitoes must be eliminated but widespread spraying of insecticides can also affect frogs and toads that eat mosquitoes and can kill beneficial insects and pollinators.

Keeping your property free of mosquito breeding places can help reduce the need to spray insecticides.

Note: The Fresno County Master Gardeners' Annual Spring Garden Tour takes place today, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

Six gardens as well as the Master Gardener demonstration garden, the Garden of the Sun, at the northeast corner of Winery and McKinley avenues in Fresno, are on the tour.

Come early to the GOS for the plant sale and to ask your gardening questions.

Master Gardener docents will be at all the gardens. Tickets purchased today are $30 and are available at several locations including the GOS.

Check our website,jucanr.org/sites/mgfresno, for garden descriptions, ticket sales locations and maps and directions.

 

Elinor Teague is a Fresno County master gardener. Send her plant questions at etgrow@comcast.net or features@fresnobee.com ("plants" in the subject line).

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