So you registered for a mosquito fogging buffer zone, now what? How do you protect yourself and your family from annoying and possibly dangerous mosquitoes? With all the rain we have had this Spring and now the hot weather, mosquito numbers are likely going to skyrocket. Luckily (or not), mosquitoes tend to stay close to where they hatched (1 to 2 miles).
There are a number of things you can do to preempt a mosquito invasion from ruining your summer. The first and most effective (more so than fogging with Malathion) starts with standing water. Any standing water you have in your yard can be a breeding zone for mosquito eggs. Your eavestroughs, old tires, a bird bath, a watering can, a cup, a flower pot, a tin can, a turned leaf, a puddle, a puddle on your BBQ cover, plastic wading pools. You name it, a mosquito can lay eggs in it. I wasn’t even concerned about the eavestroughs, then I got up on a ladder and was astonished how much water was sitting up there.
Of course some mosquitoes like different kinds of water, be prudent and dump them all! If you have a pond, add fish to eat the eggs and larvae, and if you have a swimming pool, add the correct amount of Chlorine to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching. Change your bird bath water weekly and overturn any containers you aren’t using so they don’t collect water. Have rain barrels? Make sure they have a fine mesh cover so mosquitoes can’t get in there and lay eggs. In general, make sure to disturb any standing water once a week.
It is also a great idea to trim the vegetation around your home, as long grass, weeds and shrubs provide homes for adult mosquitoes. Make sure your doors and windows are properly closing and screened.
The City of Winnipeg’s former Entmologist Taz Stewart says homeowners can treat standing water (such as that in ditches) with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI), which is a biological pest control agent. Check out Sierra Club’s great fact sheet on BT. As with Sierra Club, we don’t recommend using pesticides as prevention is a much more effective method of control.
Other ways to protect yourself are simple: wear long sleeves and pants in light colours. Avoid extended time outdoors during high mosquito activity (early morning and later evening when temperatures are cool).
We also recommend staying away from poisonous insect repellants with DEET and other chemicals that can be harmful. There are many DIY bug spray/balm recipes online, and the most effective contain Neem Oil, Lemongrass, Citronella and other essential oils. Camping at the Winnipeg Folk Festival? Join us for a FREE workshop to make bug spray! Not camping at Folk Fest? Watch for more DIY opportunities coming up!
Of course, if you are going somewhere where Malaria is a concern, the risks associated with using DEET would take a back seat to Malaria. Luckily Malaria is rarely seen in Canada, let alone in Winnipeg or Manitoba. West Nile Virus is a bit more of a concern in Manitoba. Although most mosquitoes do not carry West Nile, there is a small chance someone could contract the disease from a mosquito bite (Culex Tarsalis mosquitoes carry the disease and are found in smaller numbers than nuisance mosquitoes such as Ochlerotatus dorsalis, Ochlerotatus fitchii and Aedes vexans.) Of course diseases like Malaria and West Nile Virus will likely become more frequent due to the effects of Climate Change.
The City of Winnipeg will only fog if city wide average trap count is over 25 for two consecutive days, and one trap has a count over 100. Check out this interactive map of the trap count numbers across Winnipeg. Haven’t signed up for your mosquito fogging buffer zone yet? Find out more here.
Park areas often have many more mosquitoes than city areas, but a lot of these tips still apply when you are at the cabin or camping.
Enjoy summer all you can! Don’t let the mosquitoes win.