The number one source of mosquito breeding in urban environments is containers. Most common containers found breeding include:
- Bird baths
- Flower pot basins
- Kiddie pools
- Rain barrels
- Rain spout extensions
Mosquitoes must have water in order to develop. The eggs are lain in the water and there they develop into larvae (lar-va). The larvae feed on organic matter in the water and grow until they reach the pupal stage. The pupae (pew-pa) shell then breaks open and a flying adult emerges.
The whole cycle can be done in as little as seven days but usually averages between seven to 10 days. The amazing thing is that they only need a small amount of water to breed in. It's possible for 1/4 cup of water to produce hundreds of mosquitoes throughout the summer.
By eliminating any standing water the breeding cycle of the mosquito is broken. This is the most effective means of control.
Several factors effect what type of treatment will be necessary when addressing a mosquito problem. Species identification, location of the breeding source, developmental stage of the larvae, and population of nearby residents will determine what chemical or biological treatment should be used. Sometimes no control is even necessary.
Three Ways of Treating a Mosquito Problem
Larviciding agents used in Cabarrus County come in a liquid and solid form. The liquid is a monomolecular film which is sprayed on the surface of the water. It works to decrease the surface tension, which inhibits the larvae's air tube from attaching to the surface to get air.
The solid form is a BTi briquet (often called a mosquito dunk) that slowly dissolves in the water where it is ingested by the larvae. It then inhibits their growth preventing them from developing into adults. These larvicides are specific to mosquitoes therefore having very little effect on the environment and other non-target organisms.
Biological control may be feasible if the area can sustain fish year round. Gambusia are used because they are native fish that feed on mosquito larvae. They can be a great solution to some long term problems.
The most effective protection from mosquito bites is a combination of repellent containing the ingredient DEET (10% max for children; 30% max for adults) and wearing long shirts and pants. Using bug zappers actually kill more mosquito-eating insects then the mosquitoes themselves. Skin-so-soft does work, but only for 20 minutes at a time.
Citronella candles are effective at deterring mosquitoes only within a 15 foot range of the source. Two new repellents have been added to the approved list from CDC. These are lemon eucalyptus oil and Picaridin. The ingredient picaridin is also listed as KBR 3023.