Damaged basements and destroyed property were not the only things created from the recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding. Breeding grounds for mosquitoes also have popped up because of the standing water that remains.
The amount of water these pests need to reproduce is very little, said Mark Sheperdigian, a board-certified entomologist and vice president of Technical Services for Troy-based Rose Pest Solutions, the nation’s oldest pest control company with locations throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
“Mosquitoes can breed in the folds of a wadded up tarp on a woodpile that fills with water,” Sheperdigian said. “A single garbage can lid left upside down, a birdbath left unclean would grow mosquitoes.”
There is hope to salvage Labor Day activities if you take action now.
“It takes 10 days for mosquitoes to breed,” he said. “Whenever you have rain like we had, in 10 days a bunch more mosquitoes will appear, if the water is left to stand.”
So the first step is to ensure there is nothing in your yard containing water.
“Check your rain gutters and things like that,” Sheperdigian said. “You don’t have to get rid of your birdbaths, but they do need to be cleaned weekly.”
Despite your best efforts, chances are there are mosquitoes growing somewhere else that will make it to your yard, and it is important to protect yourself, Sheperdigian said.
“There are 60 species of mosquitoes in Michigan, but only a dozen or so show up as pests,” he said. “Some are just nuisances, while others can carry diseases, like the West Nile virus that was recently discovered in Oakland County.”
Sheperdigian recommends wearing protective clothing like long sleeves and pants. If it’s too warm for that kind of clothing, use repellent.
“DEET is the most effective and most common repellent,” he said, but added that there are a lot of variations that work differently on different people. “Try them and see what works best for you.”
A fan is another effective way to preventing mosquitoes from landing on, and biting, people, he said.
“It makes it difficult for mosquitoes to find you,” Sheperdigian said.
Sheperdigian said you can skip the expensive bug zappers and mosquito traps. Zappers zap the wrong bugs, and the mosquito traps — which can run from a couple to several hundreds of dollars — may trap mosquitoes, but don’t seem to reduce the number of them landing and biting.
“Studies show that they may trap 10,000 mosquitoes but the number of mosquitoes biting you aren’t reduced,” he said. “What good is that? It’s not economical.”
Anything ultrasonic doesn’t work as well, nor do “mosquito” plants, he said, as they don’t prevent mosquitoes from biting you.
Sheperdigian also voiced his skepticism about citronella as well, adding that while it can work, users need an awful lot of it to get usable results.”
“The bottom line is to do what you can to prevent mosquitoes in the first place,” Sheperdigian said. “Dump any standing water, cover up, turn on a fan outdoors and use repellent when needed.”