What are y'all doing about mosquitos?

roselee z8b S.W. TexasAugust 13, 2012

I guess we've all heard about the outbreak of West Nile Virus in the Dallas area. The disease is carried by mosquitos. There's a lot we as individuals can do to control the mosquito population . When I was in the third and fourth grades they taught us kids to go looking for ANY standing water and either empty the water container or pour oil on it to smother the mosquito larva. It seems there's a lot of people that don't know about this simple method.

I was visiting a gardening friend a few weeks ago (none of you know her) and there were buckets sitting under the eaves full of rain water. I leaned over and looked in the water and saw literally tens of thousands of mosquito larva in each bucket. I told her and she said, "Don't worry about it." I said, "I'm not going to worry about it, but let's do something about it. Do you have a can of WD 40?" She got the can and we sprayed all her precious rain water with a thin film of oil, not enough to hurt any plants she watered. People just don't realize what is happening in those dark buckets of water.

At my house WD 40 is sprayed in all plant saucers. Water cans, bird baths and dog water bowls are emptied every couple of days before refilling. Mosquitos can breed in as little as a half cup of water in a few days. I'm careful that water doesn't stand in plastic nursery pots I save or in the folds of a tarp I use to cover bags of potting soil. Also I pour oil or throw pieces of 'Mosquito Dunks' in any standing water in the green belt around my house.

In Dallas the city is spraying like crazy. Can you imagine breathing that stuff plus it killing all the insects good and bad? Even with all of that the outbreak is getting worse and worse as days go by.

I watched a documentary on the building of the Panama Canal. Work came to a halt because of Yellow Fever killing so many of the laborers. This was in the days before insecticides, but by educating the population to empty or pour oil on all standing water the cases of Yellow Fever went from thousands a year to one or two a year and only then could the canal be finished. Regular inspections of all homes in the area we made and a $5.00 fine was levied for every mosquito larva found.

What are y'all doing about mosquitos?

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Funny, I posted about this on Antique Rose Forum earlier today. I quit spraying a number of years ago, have a lot of Anoles/Geckos in my garden. So far haven't seen a mosquito this year or last year. I do use Avon Insect repellant SPF 30, change my birdbath water every day and am viligent about standing water. We have 12 cases of West Nile in our town, not good!

The sad thing about the spraying is that it does kill beneficial insects, including bees.

Take care, all!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 6:50PM
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I have 2 fountains that I skim with a fine strain pool net and or a tropical fish net. About once a week I add some clorox and let it sit overnight without running the pump. That seems to kill any little larvae.

I empty the dog's swimming pool weekly, have tons of happy lizards. Oddly, I end up with more mosquitos around the citronella plant than anywhere else.

Hear of 2-3 cases of WN within a couple of miles of here so trying to be smart. Water the big pots by the big fountain early in the day. Believe me they get dry.

If I can find some BT granuals I'll sprinkle them around the pots that get splashed. Would WD-40 work there?

I don't walk there and maybe some are hatching. Had not heard of a thin spray on the basin I have out for the ferel cat. Will do that within the hour. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 7:38PM
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I saw this. I have to LMAO any time they talk about long sleeves and pants in summer! I'll take my chances on that and prefer to avoid freaking out from the heat.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Can't complain in my neck of the woods either. I'm in Austin, but don't have big trees or water sitting around, two things that are a big draw. It can also be very breezy where i'm at, which helps too. ;o)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:55PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

We are following the same protocols that we've used for years, dumping small amounts of water( pot bottoms) and mosquito dunks in the lotus tubs and still water features. My husband is a mosquito magnet and we've always been vigilant in controlling our own yard.
I even called the city when a neighbor had a pool that wasn't maintained and was a breeding ground.

I worry about the beneficials and about people's fish when they start spraying. Our zip code doesn't have any reported cases yet.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:15PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Bob said he heard on the news San Antonio has had three cases of West Nile Virus so it pays to be vigilant of conditions in our own yards and bring it up in a conversation to our neighbors in a friendly way. When we lived in another location where everybody had a couple of acres I noticed an old 50 gal. drum sitting under the eaves of my neighbor's storage shed that filled with water everytime it rained. I mentioned it to them, but they shrugged it off. Sooooo, since my place was teeming with mosquitos and I knew they were not breeding in my yard I had my ten year son climb up on the roof of the shed that was on the property line and pour a little oil in it. I'm not advocating that sort of thing, but sometimes you just do what cha' gotta' do. A better option, which didn't occur to me at the time, is to call the city and ask them to inspect a property if you think there is standing water on it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:34AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

It may not have been the most neighborly thing to call the city but I did inquire politely about her plans for the green water pool and the woman just shut her door in my face without a word. I found out later that she was a renter and the landlord had responsibility for replacing/repairing the broken pump.

That summer was so bad we couldn't go outside without being attacked by skeeters. I felt that I had no other choice.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Lynn Marie

We have had several cases very near me. The only standing water we have is the dog's water dish which I empty and refill every other day. We do have a small 50 gallon pond, but it has three pumps and two filters. (The fish all died.) Hopefully that is enough.

Good post. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:39PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

Apparently my little suburb in Dallas County decided yesterday that we all need to be arial sprayed, so they intend to have that done tonight if the weather is ok. So let's all get out and dance the nekkid turtle dance for rain to start about 8:00 tonight. I'm thinking agent orange, I'm thinking crop dusting. Just another carcinogen to pile onto the carcinogens we already breath, touch, and eat each day. No wonder the cancer centers are booming with business. Not to mention what it's going to do to the wildlife friendly environment I've worked so hard to provide in my backyard. I am not a happy camper.
Off my soapbox now.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:49AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Lynnmarie, maybe you could put in a few of those little minnow sized fish called 'mosquito fish' to be sure the wiggletails aren't hiding out the nooks and crannies. Anybody know where to get them?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:54PM
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I do not know how this would effect other life but a drop of dish soap in any standing water will keep mosquito larvae from hatching as it breaks the water surface tension so they cannot float to the top and hatch.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:42PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Wally, that's good to know. Thank you.

From the internet:

Tips for Homeowners:

Homeowners can treat small areas of standing water in their yard by using vegetable cooking oil or Ivory liquid dish soap. Both will clog breathing tubes and kill mosquito larvae.

The best way to protect yourself from mosquitoes and mosquito diseases is to get rid of places where mosquitoes can lay their eggs to make more mosquitoes.

Follow these simple steps:

Dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, plastic swimming pools that are not being used, plastic covers or other things that can hold water.

Make sure that your roof gutters are not clogged. Clean roof gutters in the spring and fall.

Clean swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Use chlorine according to the manufacturer�s instructions and keep pools, saunas and hot tubs covered when no one is using them.

Empty and change the water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted trays at least one time every week.

Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas. Get rid of, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with cement.

Get rid of standing water from cisterns, cesspools and septic tanks.

Get rid of standing water in areas where animals eat.

Water your lawn carefully so that water is not standing there for many days.

Fix torn screens or get new ones.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:30PM
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everyone is freaking about the aerial spraying. Aerial spraying is in our area every year. Same people freaking about aerial spraying use OFF (DEET), spray their houses with RAID(pyrethroid!), use flea shampoo, flea collars MORE pyrethroids!, "natural" insect repellant (a PYREHRIN!)
Surprised any of them are still alive.

They aren`t freaking out about the MALATHION that is being used to fog from trucks and has been used every summer. That is an organophosphate, way more deadly.

Bet they would really be yelling if they were to get West Nile. Yelling the city/state/county/feds should have done something.
Tally Ho!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 2:06PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

There is a lot of complaining going on here for sure but Tally is right...the same complainers would be screaming if the 'government' let them get West Nile infection and had taken no action. At least they are warning everyone to stay inside, cover fish ponds, ect. I remember how awful the mosquitoes are in Galveston...they'll carry you away!

This is not representative behavior of everyone here :-)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 6:00PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

Who said anyone was freaking out? There are folks here that disagree with the airial spraying and it is their right to voice that opposition. I told my city that I thought it was irresponsible of them to SPEND OUR TAX DOLLARS to spray for WNV when there are only 4 cases and no deaths. So 35,000 of us are subjected to a government decision for 4, count 'em 4, people. Then there are the sheeple that go along with everything our government thinks they need to do for us. I think more than the spraying it is the intrusion in our lives. And as far as the DEET, flea collars, flea shampoo, that is a personal decision people can make for themselves, the airial spraying was NOT. I also complained about the street spraying when they did that too.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:47AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

After the nice rain many of us experienced I thought it would be a good time to revive this thread.

I'm going out to drop dish detergent in all the plant saucers. In hot summer water evaporates from them quickly, but when we are subject to cloudy weather and little showers every day it doesn't.

Will also empty/refill the turtle and dog water bowls. Mosquitoes can hatch in four days in as little as a half cup of water, or did I say that already? LOL

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:18PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Roselee, Thanks for the reminder; we do have some stored containers we'll need to check.

We'd like to catch more rain from the gutters than the small ~8 gallon capacity we have now, but have been concerned about mosquito breeding challenges with larger rain barrels. The "bubbler" idea in the Instructables linked below seems like something that could be adapted. Anyone tried this or similar solution?

Here is a link that might be useful: Solar Scare Mosquito

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:23AM
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actually a lot of people in Dallas did freak out about the spraying, I know first hand because we got over 15,000 calls in just a couple of days. People yelled, called me names, how dare I spray them, killing the pets....I hope they do not put our phone number in the stories this year. Houston sprayed and we got no calls, not a single one.

skeeters are already out here. We have been dry too so not sure where they are coming from. We keep the gutters cleaned out, empty out saucers, have fish in the ponds, mosquito dunks in containers, the rain barrels are sealed, cans of off are everywhere in the yard, no pesticides, dragonflies are around because of the ponds, lots of swatting and hoping the city sprays at night. toads and lizards are back now that the chickens are confined to their run.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:30AM
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I use the mosquito dunks (to prevent egg-laying) and mosquito bits (to kill larvae). As it hasn't been heavily infested in the general area of front and backyard, I can't say that the dunks have helped, or if maybe mosquitos just aren't around that much yet.

However, the reviews of other people who did witness a reduction in mosquito population are what I am going by to use that product. It seems like there is quite a good supply of dunks or bits for a relatively cheap price, so I'll continue using it as a preventative measure for any open water sources -- otherwise, removing those open water sources when not in use.

In those same years when mosquitoes were a big concern in DFW, my parents' yard had minimal mosquitoes. We could hang out in the back with shorts and no other mosquito repellent. I think it was attributed to having chickens in the yard, and probably lizards also.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:03PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Mosquitos are already dive bombing us when we step outside. They are so hungry even dryer sheets hanging out of all my pockets are not working as usual to keep them away. I have to wear mosquito repellant. The same people mentioned in the OP is still breeding them. They just don't think the standing water in buckets set along the roof line and left for weeks is a problem.

I watched a TV show on building the Panama canal. Literally thousands of workers were dying of yellow fever and work stalled. Finally a doctor suspected it was carried by mosquitos and after the a great deal of persuasion the US gov't alloted money to combat them. A concentrated effort was made to dump all water where they might breed and add a little oil to standing water they couldn't dump. This was before the days of insecticides. Private property all over Panama was inspected and people were fined $5 for every wiggle tail found on their property. The next year they were down to 10 cases of yellow fever and just a few cases after that. The canal was finally able to be completed. So just keeping property clear of standing water in which they breed does work.

I'm on my way out to toss mosquito dunks in the standing water along the drainage ditches near the house.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:47PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Bring DDT back!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 5:50PM
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I'm just keeping every thing empty that doesn't need water in it and putting dunk in the things that do. I haven't had this much water in our barrels since '07

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 7:47PM
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I use mosquito dunks too, but I know you can't find every little bit of standing water. I walked by our seldom driven pickup the other day and there was water in the bed.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 10:43PM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

Does anyone have a source in the Houston area for geckos and toads I can import to our yard? My husband welts like no other, and both the kids get that trait from him. I found one toad and one gecko earlier this spring by the shed, under the oak, but I'd like to have as much natural ammo against mosquitoes as possible. Suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:23PM
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Ragna, thanks for the reminder. After the rain this week I need to put in new dunks. The mosquitoes love me, but leave STeve alone. Tara took care of plants while I was gone and she told me that my mosquitoes are on steroids! They seem to be bigger this year. How much dish detergent should be put on the top of a 55 gallon ? I'd much rather use soap than WD40. Probably not as harmful to plants, hmmm?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:54PM
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