Angie's List: Mosquitoes

Summer is a great time for backyard parties with family and friends, but often, those gatherings are ruined by uninvited guests.

Of course, we are talking about mosquitoes.

If you really want to rid your yard of these pests, you will need to do your part and, perhaps, enlist the help of a professional.

Mosquitoes are not just annoying; they can be dangerous.

Angie Hicks from Angie’s List says, "This time of year, it can be almost impossible to enjoy your backyard if you have mosquitoes, and it's important you don't ignore that problem because they can carry the West Nile virus. You want to take precautions to protect your family."

Some of those precautions begin with some simple steps.

"When it comes to mosquitoes, they love to breed in standing water, so the key here is to remove any standing water on your property. If you have a kiddie pool or a birdbath, empty those at least once a week. If you have gutters that are clogged, that's also a potential problem, so be sure they are properly maintained. Also, keep your yard well trimmed. Have the yard mowed regularly. Keep the plants from overgrowing because all of those things will help to minimize mosquitoes."

Homeowners with a severe mosquito problem may need to call a professional for help.

Some pest control companies offer residential mosquito control programs that use insecticides.

When hiring a company to apply chemicals, ask if it is safe to use around children, pets and plants. Ask to see the label of the product.

Scott Robbins, a pest control company technical director, says, "The active ingredient is the same as what we use in a perimeter pest control product, and its active ingredient is deltamethrin - it's very common in a lot of over the counter products. So, once it's dried, just like it would with any other type of application with that product, it's safe for pets and children in that area."

This type of service might be just what you need if you are having a large outdoor gathering like a wedding reception.

"The backyard mosquito service utilizes a backpack mister. It applies an ultra low volume amount of water-based insecticide. We actually target the underside of the leaves of the foliage. That is where the mosquitoes like to rest during the day. So, whenever they rest they pick up some insecticide residual, and it kills them off very effective."

This type of service may not be necessary if your yard is pretty barren of vegetation and resting sites for mosquitoes or if there are not any pools of water near your yard.

If you do not want to hire a professional, the best over-the-counter solution, according to the CDC, is any insect repellent that contains deet, and the higher the percentage of deet in the product, the more effective and longer lasting it is.

For instance, a product containing 20% deet provides almost four hours of protection.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Mosquitoes make it next to impossible to enjoy the backyard. But these pests are more than just annoying. Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus, which is a serious health concern.

Homeowners don't need to break out in hives over the bloodsucking pests just yet, though. And, you don't need harsh chemicals to keep mosquitoes out of your yard.

Angie's List, the nation's premier provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated pest control companies to list a few preventative measures that can help you minimize the threat of a mosquito infestation on your property:
1. Drain standing water. Mosquitoes typically breed in stagnant water. Once a week, empty water from bird baths, flowerpot saucers, pet dishes, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools and other containers that collect and hold water.
2. Make sure your lawn and landscaping isn't harboring standing water. The biggest thing is drainage. You've got to make sure you get wet areas drained correctly so they don't have any standing water. A professional landscaper can help you come up with a plan to minimize your lawn's potential as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
3. Keep gutters cleaned and free of standing water. Hire a professional gutter cleaning company to clean your gutters at least once a year to keep the risk of standing water down. The most common reason gutters hold water is because the downspout is clogged. The other possibility is an incorrect pitch. If your gutters are not angled on the house correctly, the water will not flow the direction it needs to flow to drain away from the home. Hiring a professional gutter cleaning company can help your determine potential drainage or pitch issues.
4. Mow your lawn regularly and trim vegetation back in areas close to the home where water collects.
5. Check your window and door screens for holes and repair or replace as needed. Also check weather stripping around doors and windows for gaps.

Homeowners with a severe mosquito problem may need to call a professional for help. Some pest control companies offer residential mosquito control programs that use insecticides.

Angie's List Tips on hiring a pest control company:

1. When hiring a company to apply chemicals, ask if it's safe to use around children, pets and plants; ask to see the label of the product.
2. Is the technician certified to use chemicals?
3. Inquire how often the company will come out to apply the chemicals. Is it a regular or one-time treatment?
4. All details should be clearly stated in a contract before you sign the dotted line, including whether the company offers a guarantee.


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