Summers in Southwest Virginia are lush, balmy, and beautiful. It’s the perfect time of year to relax on an open deck or lounge in a comfy patio chair, cocktail and book in-hand. Unfortunately, as every Virginia native knows, the ubiquitous mosquito is also a big fan of our warm, humid summers. They show up in droves as soon as the days begin to get consistently warm and stick around until first frost. Their annoying, itchy, and painful bite makes it hard to fully appreciate the outdoors without loading up on bug spray or wearing mosquito netting. Many homeowners struggle to keep them out of their lawns and gardens, but there are a few tried and true remedies that can help you reclaim your yard and enjoy this beautiful weather before it comes to an end.
Little Insect, Big Problem
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance; in many parts of the world, they are a deadly threat. Mosquito borne illnesses infect millions every year. Zika, a particularly threatening mosquito borne illness, has made national headlines as a global health threat. It is important to be aware of the dangers that mosquitoes pose, and to know how to keep their populations in check.
The majority of mosquitoes live out their lives within one or two miles of where they were born. Once mature, they propagate rapidly, and can quickly cause an infestation. To avoid infestations on or near your property, you should develop a thorough treatment plan:
Mosquito-Proof your Landscape
Mosquitoes love shade and moisture. If your garden is overgrown or your lawn is littered with damp leaves/dead grass, mosquitos will flock to your landscape. Over-watering plants, allowing excessive overgrowth, and leaving out lawn-clippings are all recipes for disaster. Keep your plants pruned, your grass cut, and water your plants directly at their roots rather than letting water pool around them. Your yard should be clean, neat, and free of standing water!
Take Care of Water Features
A standing pool of water is like paradise to a mosquito. They will eat, breed, and multiply there all summer long. If you have standing water features in your yard, you should take extra care to keep mosquitoes away. If you have a pond, consider installing a source of flowing water to keep water clean and circulating. If you notice water pooling on lawn ornaments or in buckets, dump it out. Don’t let debris (like plastic bottles or cups) sit in your yard; even a small bit of pooled water can host mosquitoes. If you have a birdbath or a stagnant fountain, change the water regularly. If you keep a rain barrel, cover the opening with mesh to prevent mosquito infiltration. Leaks and clogged gutters can also lead to mosquito infestations, so keep your gutters clean and get leaks fixed as soon as you notice them!
Prepare with Natural Remedies
You do not necessarily need chemicals to mosquito-proof your landscape. Certain plants, such as citronella and marigold, can ward of mosquitoes before an infestation starts. Additionally, planning a landscape design that is breezy and sunny will allow you to more easily manage your risk factors. And, though it may seem strange to welcome animals like dragonflies, frogs, bats, and birds onto your property, these animals feed on mosquitoes and can naturally limit their population. Plus, a few birds or bats is certainly preferable to dealing with mosquito bites!