If you have an outdoor water feature, perhaps a small pond, fountain or birdbath, then you probably enjoy the little slice of nature that you own. However, you may also have problems with mosquitoes, and they certainly are not enjoyable for anyone. Mosquitoes depend upon standing water for reproduction, but if you don't want to drain your pond or empty your fountain, then what can you do to escape their presence? Fortunately, you can get rid of mosquitoes on your property and still enjoy the beauty and joy offered by water features. Here are some solutions:
Use natural predators
Like most insects, mosquitoes have multiple natural predators that will eat the larvae, adult mosquito, or both. If possible, leverage this natural biological relationship to your advantage. Here are some mosquito eaters:
- Bats - while data are controversial, it is likely that bats consume large quantities of mosquitoes, as well as other prey insects, in many locales. One way you can encourage bats to take-up residence locally is by installing bat houses; these are flat, wooden structures about the size of a large birdhouse. They can be installed in many locations, including the outside of your house, storage shed and other nearby places. They are easy to build, and they can be purchased online for a reasonable cost.
- Dragonflies - these are another mosquito-eating specialist, and they add a touch of charm to most backyard gardens. Dragonflies are attracted to water as it provides both both their food and serves as a breeding ground; the larvae of dragonflies hatch underwater, and they are fierce predators of mosquito larvae. The adult dragonfly will also consume mosquitoes.
- Mosquitofish - these small fish are natives to the United States, and they are perhaps the best mosquito predator of all. They are voracious larvae eaters, which helps eliminate the problem at its source. Mosquitofish resemble guppies, and they are beneficial by also eating algae and other insect pests. They can survive in outside ponds with a minimal amount of care. Check with your local aquatic supply store for assistance in locating mosquitofish.
Methoprene is a commonly used insecticide for controlling mosquito populations. It is often packaged in the form of a large dissolving tablet that can be placed in water where mosquito larvae are prolific. Methoprene doesn't kill the larvae; rather, it prevents larvae from transitioning to its adult stage. It has been tested, and it is non-toxic to humans in reasonable quantities.
If you have a standing body of water, then methoprene might be a good alternative to consider. However, be cautious if you have aquatic life in your pond, as it may possibly kill or stunt the growth of some animals or fish. Methoprene can be purchased as one of several name brands, and it is widely available from online retailers. You may also wish to check with your local agricultural extension agent for advice on how to properly use it.
Citronella is another time-tested way to keep mosquitoes at-bay. It will not kill the mosquitoes, but citronella is an effective, safe repellent. Citronella is an oily extract of lemongrass that is nontoxic, and a lot of people find the aroma pleasant or non-offensive, at least.
You can spray citronella in almost any location that mosquitoes might congregate, as it won't harm any of your pets, either; just be careful not to allow it to remain on your skin for too long since it can cause irritation. Also, be careful around your water features since citronella might make your fish ill or kill them. Citronella comes in candle form and can be burned in an oil lamp, so use whatever product you find convenient. If needed, contact a pest control service, like Cavanaugh's Pest Control, for help.