Thursday, June 17, 2010

LOOK FOR: Mosquito Larvae

The mosquito population is starting to pick up, and it's enough to drive people insane, or indoors, or both. Looking for mosquito larvae is one way to make life a little more bearable, if you have any control over your outdoor living space.

Mosquito larvae and pupae by Alvaro Rodriquez
All mosquitoes spend their larval stage in water. You'll see them as thin little "wrigglers" in the water. They frequently hang down from the surface of the water; they're breathing air through tiny tubes. When they pupate, they curl up and float at the surface. A few days later, the adult emerges from this pupa.

Our local mosquitoes rarely travel far from where they hatch. If you can stop them from breeding in your neighborhood, it may be a lot more pleasant to go outside. Even small amounts of water can harbor mosquito larvae -- for tiger mosquitoes, as small as a few teaspoons. And the whole cycle from egg to adult can take as little as six days.

Adult mosquito emerging by safoocat
Clogged rain gutters are a primo breeding site. Don't let out-of-sight be out-of-mind: make sure water is draining out of them completely after it rains. Also look around for anything else that might be collecting water: furniture, containers, tarps...basically, anything you're storing outside could easily become a mosquito Club Med if it's got a little pool that stands for more than a couple of days.

If you've got something that you want to hold water, like a birdbath, either replace the water every few days (we do this with our birdbath) or use dunks that include BT to prevent larvae from maturing (we do this with our pond).

Photo by James Jordan: "I sacrificed myself in the name of art"
Talk to your neighbors and get them to do the same, and you may actually see a significant reduction in mosquitoes.

But, when you can't completely beat 'em, just remember: mosquitoes are part of the bottom of the food chain. That blood you donate will be bird food soon.