By Cole Baerlocher
Warmer temperatures and rain means mosquito season is underway in most of the state. With an increase in mosquitoes comes an increase in bites.
While these insects pose a big annoyance for Texans, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist Sonja Swiger, Ph.D., shared five tips on how to protect your home from mosquitoes this summer.
Researchers at Texas A&M University’s Zach Adelman Lab utilize mosquitoes in their research of mosquito-borne viruses such as yellow fever, West Nile encephalitis, Zika, and dengue hemorrhagic fever. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)
Eliminate standing water
Mosquitoes develop in stagnant water, Swiger said. Limiting water-filled breeding sites around the home can reduce populations in proximity.
It takes an immature mosquito around 10 to 14 days to develop in water, so it is a good rule of thumb to replace or remove water that has been sitting for longer than five days, she said.
Potential areas to check for standing water include water dishes, bird baths, plant saucers, leaky faucets, and gutters.
“Observe your surroundings for water that is standing for more than a few days and dump the water or make sure it is free of larvae,” she said.
Utilize screens and closed doors
Mosquitoes are attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide that is emitted when we breathe. While screens on open windows and doors are an effective barrier to keep mosquitoes from entering homes, it is vital to ensure that screens do not contain holes and that doors stay closed.
“It is highly recommended that you use screens on your windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside,” Swiger said. “Mosquitoes are going to do what they have to in order to get to us.”
Keep a well-trimmed yard and shrubbery
While preferences with personal property may vary, it is vital to prevent the type of habitat where adult mosquitoes thrive. Potted plants, thick, tall grass and overgrown landscape plants provide shelter for mosquitoes.
By managing these types of environments around your home, you prevent the likelihood of mosquitoes following you into your home.
“It is important not to have too many potted plants or overgrown shrubs because those serve as harborages for adult mosquitoes to thrive in,” Swiger said.
Utilize repellents and be consistent
Texas is home to over 80 species of mosquitoes that thrive throughout the warmer months both during the day and at night.
“If you are outdoors, using is one of the only sure-fire ways to prevent mosquito bites,” Swiger said.
Spray products like “Off!” are recommended because they are better able to mask our scent from mosquitoes. Swiger mentioned that citronella candles are not nearly effective since the scent does not travel far enough to provide any protection in a area.
Be aware of mosquito activity
Swiger said it is important to be aware that mosquito activity varies from species to species. Some are active early in the morning while others are active at dusk and during the night. Preventative measures can reduce mosquito populations in or near your home, and consistent use of repellents can reduce bites.
If you see or notice a public area where mosquito populations are heavy, notify your local public health department to report sites. Action by public health professionals can reduce mosquito populations and mitigate their spread to other areas.
For more information on mosquito prevention, visit AgriLife Extension’s Do-It-Yourself Backyard Mosquito Control.