Mosquitoes: Everything You Must Know About The Most Dangerous Animal
"What would a summer be without mosquitoes?"
It’s hard to find someone who would disagree that a summer without mosquitoes would be a summer missed. In fact, many Calgarians long for the later summer days for the biting insects to die down or escape to their neighboring province, British Columbia, to get a little breathing room from the buzzing pests.
Besides being a nuisance, mosquitoes pose a risk to public health and environmental safety due to their disease-carrying capabilities and ability to disrupt delicate ecosystems. Mosquitoes are a regular target of the Alberta Pest & Nuisance Control Regulation and are highly sought after to be controlled in the Calgary region.
For the average homeowner, what can you do about mosquitoes? The truth is that there are many strategies to combat mosquitoes, with some being more effective than others. In this article, we will cover:
- The Science Behind Mosquitoes
- The Health & Environmental Threat of Mosquitos
- Current Strategies to Control Mosquitoes
- The Art & Science of Mosquito Control Applications
Ready? Let’s start!
The Science Behind Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes have been around for more than 30 million years, where evidence suggests that mosquitoes date back to the Triassic period when dinosaurs are alive. This means that over the past several million years, mosquitoes have evolved to be experts to source nutrients, find breeding grounds and reproduce rapidly season after season.
There are more than 2,700 species of mosquitoes around the world, where over 80 are known to Canada. Mosquitoes are cold-blooded insects, meaning that they are not able to regulate their own body heat like humans. However, they are able to survive the harsh winters each year as the female mosquitoes lay their eggs which rest frozen water over the winter and will ultimately hatch once the ice melts.
To survive and reproduce, male mosquitoes will feed off plant juices, including thick vegetation like the leaves and stems of plants. Female mosquitoes require a blood source from another animal, such as a dog, rabbit or human to provide a source of energy and nutrients for it’s larvae. In order to successfully breed new larvae, female mosquitoes must lay their eggs in a source of water.
Standing Water = A Mosquitoes Best Friend
Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes do not require a large body of water, such as a still-water lake, bog or puddle to lay eggs. A mosquito can lay 4 eggs per 1 ml of water which equates to 1000 eggs per 250ml cup! For this reason, basic toys like frisbees, gutters that don’t drain properly, and low spots are recipes for disaster when it comes to keeping your yard mosquito free. The soft bodies of mosquitos cause them to harbor in shady areas like thick bushes because the sun has the ability to dehydrate them to death. They are very sensitive which is why they hide in dark damp places.
For homeowners, this means that inconspicuous water sources can serve as a life-long for mosquitoes in need of a breeding ground. Any residential lawn can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes when these sources of water are left unchecked.
The Health & Environmental Threat of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are considered one of the most deadliest animals to humans according to Wikipedia, with an estimated 725,000 to 1 million deaths per year, mostly due to the Malaria parasite and Zika virus, which is not known to Canada. In fact, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has invested $4 million dollars in biotechnology companies to help combat mosquitoes that transmit the Malaria virus.
While the species of mosquitoes that carry the Malaria parasite and Zika virus are not known to Canada, there are mosquito-borne diseases that remain a public health threat. The most well-known disease carried by mosquitoes in Canada is the West Nile Virus however according to the Government of Canada the risk of contracting a disease from mosquitoes remains very low.
The Government of Canada states that “There is no vaccine or specific treatment for mosquito borne diseases, so reducing mosquito habitat and minimizing the risk of mosquito bites are the best ways to prevent infection”.
The increased amount of disease-carrying mosquitoes are also in direct relation to climate change. Warmer temperatures and frequent rainfall makes the climate more desirable for mosquito breeding. Over the past decade, Canadian regulations have come into place to ban DDT, which while effective in deterring mosquitoes, is detrimental to the environment which ultimately aggravated the issue of mosquitoes.
Current Strategies to Control Mosquitos
Physical Insect Repellents:
Physical repellents including wearing long, loose-fitting clothing to limit the mosquito’s ability to latch onto your skin. This is generally effective where clothing can cover, but often leaves certain areas of the body exposed and vulnerable, including ankles, wrists, neck, face and ears.
Plus, who wants to look like this this summer?
Chemical Insect Repellents:
Chemical barriers are the most common and well-known method to control bug bites and mosquitoes. According to the Government of Canada, regulated ingredients approved for use in insect repellents are a combination of both artificial and natural chemicals, including:
- Mixture of essential oils
Although considered generally safe, it's important to always read through the recommendations on the use of these products for children, pets and pregnant women.
Alternative Insect Repellents:
Other methods of repelling mosquitoes include certain plants, candles, bug zappers and a whole other plethora of methods. There is limited evidence that these methods are effective, and chemical and physical repellents are still considered the most effective.
The Art & Science of Mosquito Control Applications
To avoid the repetitiveness of chemical insect repellents and the inconvenience of physical insect repellents, blanket mosquito control applications can control mosquitoes by repelling and eliminating the bug on the spot!
At Yard Dawgs, we use a 100% natural mist solution that targets areas of concern on your residential property. Our approach consists of three steps to eliminate up to 85% of mosquitos for up to 4 weeks:
Effective mosquito control requires a multi-faceted approach, where solely a mosquito control application will not be enough to take a stand against the mosquitoes (remember how resilient they are over their millions of years of evolution!). This means that during the first visit, our technicians will take a look at your property to identify areas where mosquitoes may be hiding and breeding. These include:
- Overturned frisbees and toys
- Untended bird baths and ponds
- Overwatered lawns or pooling of water (often found on sloped lawns)
- Leaking hoses
It is crucial for homeowners to limit the amount of water on their lawn, as this is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and will work against any mosquito control applications.
Yard Dawgs uses a 100% natural mist solution that is applied around your targeted areas of concern on your property, including thick bushes and leafy trees to create a coating that mosquitoes cannot land on. This coating lasts for 3-4 weeks and works by sticking to the bodies of mosquitoes and prevents them from landing on shrubbery.
Male mosquitoes depend on the nutrients in plants and shrubbery to survive. The natural mist decreases their ability to source nutrients, impairing the male mosquitoes’ capacity to fertilize the female’s eggs, ultimately decreasing the amount of mosquitoes on your property.
The natural mist solution is safe for pets, children and bees! Consistent with recommendations for standard fertilizer and herbicide, we do recommend that immediately and up to 12 hours following application, pets and children are supervised on your lawn to ensure that they do not ingest treated plants or shrubbery.
Yard Dawgs wants to make sure you get your lawn back this summer, meaning you can enjoy the entire season without pesky mosquitoes. We will return to your property every 3-4 weeks for application to ensure your existing mosquitoes are controlled and you have a barrier which repels them for the next few weeks.
Need Mosquito Control for a Special Event?
We all know the frustration on a perfect, warm summer evening that is ruined by swarming, biting mosquitoes. To combat this, Yard Dawgs offers a special event spray that will cover you for the one day where you want to avoid mosquitoes from joining the party. This is ideal for weddings, BBQs, birthday parties and outdoor charity events.
Is Mosquito Control for me?
Mosquito control is something everyone can benefit from and can increase the value of your property as you can spend longer, summer days outside and enjoying your lawn. It also helps protect you and your family against the biting, nuisance insects that have a low, but very present, risk of spreading disease. Furthermore, using a natural product helps control mosquitoes in an environmentally friendly way, meaning you can feel good about your choice for the health of you, your family and the planet!