STILLWATER, Okla. — We are still a few weeks out from the official start of summer, but with warmer weather, spending time outside is a priority for many. It is fun to invite friends and family over for a cookout. Unfortunately, there will likely be some unwanted pesky guests … mosquitoes.
Much of the state has received quite a bit of rain lately, and while the moisture is welcome, it can lead to a greater population of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes breed in open water sources, so the best way to eliminate these pests is to get rid of their breeding grounds, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist.
“Look around your landscape at anything that collects water. Flower pots, rain gutters, watering cans, old tires or birdbaths are prime breeding ground for mosquitoes,” Hillock said. “Through some landscape design, we unintentionally create an atmosphere pleasing to mosquitoes. Fortunately, just dumping out the water is an easy fix.”
For those who may employ the use of rain barrel or other containers to collect rain water for irrigation purposes, cover them with screening to keep out mosquitoes. Be sure to keep the screens clear of debris.
Hillock said something as simple as a puddle of water in the lawn can be a breeding ground for these annoying pests.
“Fill in those low places where water puddles form in an effort to cut down on the mosquito population. Clean out your rain gutters so water doesn’t build up inside and create another breeding ground,” he said. “Also, check all of the outdoor water spigots around your home to ensure they aren’t leaking and causing puddles of water. Flush the water from your bird bath at least twice a week. Not only will this cut down on mosquitoes, the birds will like it, too.”
Children’s toys and wading pools are other places mosquitoes like to hang out and lay eggs. Be sure to turn these things over following each rain to dump out collected water. If possible, store them in such a way that water will not collect.
For those who have a swimming pool, fish pond or other body of water in the landscape, make sure it is properly maintained. In addition, keep grass cut short around your home so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.
When working in your garden, be sure to wear insect-repellent clothing and outdoor gear. Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts will help provide protection for your arms. This also will help with minimizing sun exposure.
“Obviously, there’s no way to completely rid your yard of mosquitoes and keeping yourself protected can be challenging. Insect repellents are another way to provide protection, as well as using citronella oil products such as candles and tiki torches in your outdoor space,” Hillock said. “With summer just around the corner, families want to spend more and more time outdoors. Don’t let the mosquitoes get the best of you.”
Trisha Gedon is a communications specialist for the Agricultural Communications Services at Oklahoma State University.