Learning how to deal with mosquitoes

Summer is synonymous with many things – baseball, fireworks and, unfortunately, mosquitoes. The bugs can ruin a summer barbecue faster than a rotten hamburger.

So how can you prevent them from invading your yard?

For homeowner Jerry McVeigh, living on a wooded lot with a pond and a lake, he has seen his fair share of mosquitoes. So McVeigh hired a professional mosquito control company to treat his yard regularly.

"We tried everything: foggers, all the different coils,” he said. “You name it, we tried it. And a lot of other people I'm sure understand this - we were so sensitive about strong chemicals because of what's going on with the wildlife."

With a little preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can gain the upper hand on mosquitoes.

"There are many places around a homeowner's property where they can look for sources of standing water,” said mosquito control contractor Ken Frost. “The thing is we are only looking for a very small amount of water. In fact, it only takes a soda bottle cap full of water to breed several hundred mosquitoes."

Empty bird baths, kiddie pools, flower pot saucers, and keep gutters clear.

"We can go out now with the children and grandchildren and be out in the evening, walk around anywhere, go down to the lake and fish," said McVeigh.

Better to have the fish bite than the mosquitoes.

Several types of plants also act as a natural mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.

Mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases including West Nile virus and malaria, and can expose dogs to heartworm.

The good news is you don't have to run for cover every time the sun goes down. With a little preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can gain the upper hand on mosquitoes.
Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated companies about how to prevent mosquitoes from invading your yard.

Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupa and adult and all but the last stage occur in water. Without water, mosquitoes can reproduce.

You might think your yard is safe from mosquitoes because there's no obvious sign of standing water, but the reality is that even a bottle cap full of water can become a mosquito breeding ground. The number one most important thing you can do is eliminate standing water.

Angie's List Tips: How to eliminate standing water
· Empty water from bird baths, flower pot saucers, pet dishes, old tires, unused swimming pools, fence posts, and other items that collect and hold water.
· Make sure rain barrels are covered.
· Keep gutters cleaned. Clogged gutters or gutters that don't drain properly are common breeding sites.

Angie's List Tips: Mosquito prevention
· Trim back vegetation: Mosquitoes feast on plant nectar when they aren't prowling for blood, so they spend a lot of time in tall grasses or around shrubs and bushes. Trim vegetation near the home and keep lawns mowed.
· Use mosquito-repelling plants: Several types of plants act as a natural mosquito repellent. For example, the citronella smell used in mosquito-repelling candles is derived from the citronella plant, a grass that can be grown in climates where it doesn't freeze or raised in a pot in colder climates. Mosquitoes also avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.
· Remove yard debris: Be aware of areas where debris collects in the yard, such as grass clippings and piles of leaves.

If prevention doesn't produce adequate results, professional mosquito control companies provide barrier spray treatments that kill adult mosquitoes, and larvicides that kill mosquitoes in the larvae stage.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring professional mosquito control
· Ask about chemicals: If you have pets or children, ask which insecticides will be used in the treatment. Ask to see the label of the product.
· Are you licensed? In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator's license before making a hiring decision.
· What is the application schedule: How often will the company come out? Most mosquito control companies offer plans where a technician applies a one-time treatment or comes out several times a year. Some homeowners will schedule a single treatment before an outdoor event such as a wedding or party.
· Read the contract before signing: 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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