Monday Morning Gardening: Managing Mosquitoes

Every time there's a local shark sighting, the beach closes for a few hours and then eventually resumes normal operation, with the threat assumed gone.   While the chances of being attacked by a shark are very low, there are people who panic and swear off every returning to the seaside.   But there's a much greater threat from a predator that is smaller than a single shark’s tooth and can make their home virtually anywhere.  Yes folks, it's time to get serious about the dreaded mosquito! Mosquitoes are flying pests that are born in water and once they grow to adulthood, make the transition to a flying insect.  The female mosquito goes out and feeds on human blood in preparation for her egg laying.  She then looks for still, standing water and lays her egg(s) in what is called a raft.  The eggs hatch and the mosquito larva or wigglers, live in the water and come to the surface to breathe through breathing tubes.  Once they reach their adult stage, they move out of the water.  The water cycle of a mosquito can be a week or less, so even a brief summer shower while you're out of town for a few days can create a breeding ground in your garden. With our current drought, our threat must be low, right?  Well, it can be, but we have to be vigilant.  Dormant fountains or bird baths can both be problems.  The water needs to be completely changed every few days, don’t just add more water to existing water.  And watch those watering cans!  Last week, I was using a small watering can for some small pots and I didn’t use all the water (not sure what distracted me!) and left the can sitting for a few days.  It can happen to any of us.  So take the time, get outside and make sure that you are diligent in looking for spots where mosquitoes could breed.

If you live near any abandoned homes that have undrained pools or unattended ponds, contact your local vector control and give them the property information so that they can contact the owners or take the appropriate action.   Many cities are so concerned about mosquito-borne diseases, that they are considering overhead spraying to control the threat and that won’t be good for any of us!

So pack up the family, head to the beach, and enjoy the ocean.  Those sharks are more worried about you than you are about them!  But at home, be a good steward of the earth and find those spots that might be a mosquito breeding ground and eradicate them.  We all need a future where Zika, West Nile Virus and Malaria are all in the history books and not on our minds!