University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Mosquito Control in Your Landscape

Mosquitoes are so prolific here in the summer that they're often jokingly referred to as "Florida's other state bird." These pests can ruin your outdoor activities immediately.

A mosquito's bite is not only itchy and sometimes painful, but can also transmit diseases in both humans and animals. Common diseases carried by mosquitoes in Florida include St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile virus, and eastern equine encephalitis, as well as the parasite dog heartworm.

Reduce Breeding Opportunities

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and this summer's plentiful rain has provided ideal conditions for breeding. Even small amounts of water can be used as breeding grounds.

By reducing standing water around your home, you can prevent mosquitoes from further infesting your landscape. Unfortunately, gardens are full of water-holding containers, so these need to be closely monitored.

Common breeding sites include clogged gutters, old tires, over-irrigated lawns, potted plant pans, pet dishes, birdbaths, and ponds. Dump water out of containers where it doesn't belong, and change the water in birdbaths weekly and in outdoor pet bowls daily.

There is even a mosquito thats breed specifically in bromeliads; they fly (and bite) during the day. Bromeliads and other water holding plants should be flushed regularly with clean water.

Larger ponds, water gardens, and bromeliads can be treated with products containing Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) without harming plants or wildlife. You can even purchase goldfish or gambusia, also known as "mosquitofish," which feed on mosquito larvae. Or consider installing a fountain or waterfall—moving water discourages mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Protect Yourself

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn so plan your outdoor activities accordingly. If you must be outside at these times, consider wearing long sleeves and pants.

The most effective repellents are ones that contain the ingredient DEET. In general, products containing 15 to 40% DEET work best for adults, while products containing no more than 8 to 10% DEET are recommended for children.

And in case you were wondering, University of Florida studies have shown that bug zappers and UV lights are not effective in controlling mosquitoes.


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