How to Handle a Mosquito Infestation
Of all the pests we encounter in and around the home, no insect is more prevalent or threatening than the mosquito. Mosquitoes check all the boxes of a dangerous home pest: they can spread disease, they multiply quickly, and they cause varying levels of discomfort and pain from multiple bites.
It’s important to know that you do not need to suffer through mosquito season with a small citronella candle and swatting away bugs during every barbecue. This guide will cover all you need to know about where mosquitoes live and breed, what attracts them, and how to get rid of mosquitoes for good.
We’ll also explain when it’s best to call a professional exterminator to handle your mosquito infestation quickly and thoroughly. Whether you prefer the DIY approach or need the guidance of a trained expert, it is possible to handle mosquito infestation with knowledge and strategy.
Your Quick Mosquito Guide
What comes to mind when you think about the most dangerous animal in the world? Most people wouldn’t think of the mosquito. The CDC rates this disease-carrying insect as the largest threat to humans, mainly due to each mosquito’s ability to carry disease to hundreds of people in its lifetime. Here are a few other helpful tips about mosquitoes to keep in mind:
- Only female mosquitoes bite and feed on blood.
- Males mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, despite their large and intimidating appearance
- Mosquito saliva keeps your blood from clotting so they can have a larger meal
- These chemicals in the saliva are also what causes their bites to itch
- Mosquito season ranges between summer and early fall, depending on your region
- Mosquitoes multiply quickly, laying up to 3,000 eggs in just a couple weeks
- There are three main types of mosquitoes found in the US, though there are over 3,500 throughout the world and over 1,500 in North America
- These species are more prevalent across the southern border, rising all the up to the middle of the country
- Mosquitoes are less prevalent in the north but are occasionally found in all states in the continental US
The Dangers of Mosquito Bites
From itchiness to life-threatening illnesses, it’s important to be aware of the common and more rare dangers of these insects. The larger the infestation, the bigger chance you have to encounter a mosquito carrying one of today’s common diseases.
Reactions to Bites
On a very basic level, mosquito bites cause discomfort and pain. Depending on your body’s reaction, a mosquito bite can range from a small red-and-white lump to a large painful welt. Those with more extreme immune-system reactions may also experience:
- Swelling and rash around the bite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Body ache
When any of these more extreme reactions occur, it’s important to reach out to a doctor to rule out an infection.
West Nile Virus
According to the CDC, West Nile Virus is the most common cause of mosquito-borne disease. The illness is transferred by an infected mosquito to a human or an animal, but only 1 in 5 people develop symptoms. The more extreme form of the illness also only occurs in between 1 and 150 people.
In 2019, there were reports of West Nile viruses in nearly all 50 states other than Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. So far, 958 cases were reported in humans for the year.
Though the vast majority of people do not develop any symptoms, West Nile Virus can cause:
- Neck stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Vision loss
Recovery, especially in more severe cases, can take weeks or even months. One in 10 cases of the more severe reaction leads to death.
This notorious outbreak in 2015 led to a new awareness of the dangers of mosquitoes. The disease is particularly dangerous in pregnant women or those looking to become pregnant, since it can lead to cases of microcephaly in babies. Here are a few important facts to know about Zika:
- Zika is spread through mosquito bites and between partners as a sexually-transmitted disease
- Mild symptoms include fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, and pink eye
- A small number of infants have been reported with birth defects due to in-utero Zika
- The virus can lead to a larger number of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome
- The virus was first identified in 1947
- It has been found throughout the globe, including North, Central, and South America
Mosquitoes can transfer a long list of additional viruses and illnesses, but they are less common in the United States. A small number of cases are reported in the US each year. These include:
- Chikungunya Virus
- Dengue Virus
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus
- Japanese Encephalitis Virus
- La Crosse Encephalitis
- St. Louis Encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
What Attracts Mosquitoes to Your Home?
The abundance of mosquitoes throughout the US means that it is easier to try and ward off nesting in your yard than eliminating infestations that have already taken root.
Mosquitoes are attracted to areas where it is safe to breed and where they will have access to humans and animals for food. Below are some of the most common things that attract mosquitoes to both your area and certain people more than others.
Warmer Body Temperatures
If you’re someone with a naturally higher body temperature, you may find that mosquitoes find you faster than your colder-bodied friends. Mosquitoes have heat sensors to alert them of a meal nearby. Mosquitoes also prefer the moisture and certain smells created by your sweat, so they are more likely to land on you if you are perspiring.
CO2 From Our Breath
Mosquitoes are also tipped off on the proximity of humans by the CO2 in your breath. These strong smellers have sensors that can detect your breath from up to 150 feet away.
The most common factor that attracts hungry mosquitoes looking to multiply is an area of standing water. Shallow water is more ideal for laying eggs and building a temporary home, so you do not need a larger water source in your backyard to have this problem. Small containers or pooling water from frequent rain are common ways that these bugs congregate and lay eggs.
Mosquitoes also seek out shelter even without a large amount of standing water, typically in yard debris where they can protect themselves from the elements. This often includes common areas of natural comport, grass clippings, piles of firewood, weeds, uncut grass, and stacks of branches.
How Do Mosquitoes Reproduce?
Mosquitoes prefer warmer temperatures for reproduction, especially in humid areas. They typically breed and lay eggs anywhere between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so mating season can extend from mid-spring to late fall.
The eggs, larvae, and pupae—young mosquitoes—often need a shallow body of water to survive. Females will lay eggs in the pool of water, which hatch within 24 to 48 hours. Only after about 10-14 days, when the pupae have fully matured into adult mosquitoes, can they extend their dried wings and fly away from the body of water.
Female mosquitoes may not build large traditional nests like wasps or ants, but they can lay up to 500 eggs after traveling great distances. This is one reason there is a higher chance of the bugs for carrying disease between two bodies of standing water. After it reaches maturity, each mosquito can then live up to several weeks to a month.
How to Prevent Mosquitoes and Mosquito Bites
When you deter mosquitoes from eating and reproducing, you can deter them from gathering. We recommend taking a three-pronged approach to mosquito prevention:
- Stopping bites
- Securing your home
- Protecting your outdoor space
Preventing Mosquito Bites
We all have that friend who seems to get bitten more than others. Though biologists cannot pinpoint all the reasons mosquitoes take a preference to one host over another, there are some commonalities between those that are frequently bitten. To prevent mosquito bites:
- Apply mosquito repellent before spending time outdoors in mosquito-prone areas. For more severe cases, be sure to use products with the ingredient DEET.
- Natural repellents, such as peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils, can also be diluted to deter some mosquitoes as well.
- Avoid an overabundance of outdoor drinking since alcohol intake has been known to increase mosquito bites
- Whenever possible, only sit outside when you can stay relatively cool and avoid sweating.
- Choose longer sleeves and pants when at great risk of bites, picking lighter colors over darker ones.
- Avoid sitting in humid areas of standing water
- Install a mosquito-repelling candle, light, or Mosquito Alarm—a device that projects an undetectable frequency to deter bugs
Prevent Mosquitoes in Your Yard
While some regions are simply more prone to mosquitoes than others, there are several ways to discourage and infestation in your outdoor space.
Investigate Standing Water
Begin by moving through your space to hunt down any unseen signs of standing water. These areas may not appear obvious at first sight, since they commonly occur throughout your home, even when everything is working correctly. For example, try to cut down on the water in your:
- Birdbaths and feeders
- Tree holes and gathered roots
- Yard debris that can collect water
- Ditches in walkways and landscaping features
If you have naturally standing water such as ponds or pools, be sure to treat your water regularly to ensure that it is fresh and free of bacteria.
Encourage Natural Predators
The more natural predators of mosquitoes in your yard, the more balanced your ecosystem. Plant flowers and trees that encourage:
- Frogs, fish, and tadpoles
Install Outdoor Repellants
Mosquito repellants come in many forms—from a chemical-based spray to naturally scented candles and cones that scare mosquitoes away. You can also purchase dissolvable pods to kill eggs and larvae in nearby standing water.
Prevent Mosquitoes in Your Home
When mosquitoes make their way indoor to your home, it is definitely time to tackle the issue head-on. This is often a sign that your outdoor issue has grown so severe that mosquitoes are following you indoors.
- Broken screen doors and windows are the most common culprits for mosquitoes coming into the home. Be sure to keep your screen intact and closed at all times during mosquito season.
- Check the bases of your doors and the tops of your windows for additional entryways into your home.
- Remove any standing water in the areas on the outdoor perimeter of your home so mosquitoes do not congregate in these areas and follow you inside.
- If you live in a high-risk area for mosquitoes, use a net around your bed or across windows for additional protection.
Common Mosquito Killers
In addition to prevention, you can also rid your home and property of your current mosquito problem with some simple DIY solutions. This is particularly important if you are frequently getting biten or if you have company arriving for an outdoor gathering.
These devices attract mosquitoes by mimicking human breath by omitting CO2. Once inside, the mosquitoes are trapped and killed with water, dehydration, electricity, or an adhesive.
Insect killers often include a long list of bugs, including mosquitoes. There are both natural and chemical-based products on the market for your yard and safe for the indoors. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before handling the spectracides yourself, especially around pets and children.
When to Call a Professional for Your Mosquito Problem
Some yards are more prone to mosquito problems than others, especially during a particularly hot and humid year. Terminix provides quick and personalized protection from mosquito infestations to keep all customers safe and provide year-round peace of mind.
In four steps, the Terminix team will inspect in and around your property, kill any existing mosquitoes, protect against the return of an infestation, and maintain a mosquito-free zone for as long as you maintain your plan.
By working with a professional, you can:
- Avoid working with dangerous chemicals
- Remove mosquitoes from your home quickly
- Build a long-term plan for keep mosquitoes away
- Receive expert advice on how to reorganize your property to decrease the mosquito population
- Remove mosquitoes before a large event at your home
Not only does proper mosquito removal decrease your chances of disease, but it always creates a more comfortable gathering space both in and outside your home for years ahead.