Mosquitoes are known on all of the Hawaiian Islands for the nasty, itchy bites that put a damper on spending time outdoors with friends and family. All year-round, we run into mosquitoes in our own yards. Males do not bite; only the females do. In order to feed their eggs, female mosquitoes consume their bodyweight in blood each time they bite. Males survive off of the nectar from flowers, which makes them beneficial to the environment. Mosquitoes use still water that’s around your property to breed. Even a small bottle cap can harbor hundreds of eggs. Storm drains, flower pots, and birdbaths can all collect excess water. Their disturbance isn’t a problem unique to Hawaiians. Mosquitoes breed across the country, ruining picnics and bonfires for thousands of people every year.
What attracts mosquitoes to my yard?
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, even as small as water gathered in a plastic soda bottle cap. Rain water can gather around your property within tires, downspouts, bird baths, children’s play equipment, buckets, clogged gutters, and flowerpots. Even if you dump water from all of the areas listed above, a next door neighbor who isn’t as proactive can cause mosquitoes to wander into your yard.
What diseases do mosquitoes spread?
Mosquitoes are the carriers of a number of fatal diseases, resulting in death all over the world. Some of the deadly diseases include St. Louis Encephalitis, West Nile virus, and Zika virus. It is the female mosquitoes that bite, spreading disease to its host. They feed on human and animal blood. Male mosquitoes feed mostly on the nectar of the flowers. Female mosquitoes need protein for the eggs and only a blood meal can help them to produce that protein. Interesting fact is when females are not laying eggs, they are also happy on a flower diet!
West Nile virus spreads from an infected bird to a mosquito that feeds upon it. The newly infected mosquito then feeds on another bird, spreading the virus as the cycle continues. Hosts such as dogs, horses, chickens, and humans contract the virus from infected mosquitoes, but do not spread the virus. This is why they are considered “dead end hosts.”
- St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) – First identified in St. Louis in 1933. Only a small portion of those infected by SLE exhibit symptoms and become ill. Severe cases progress from meningitis and encephalitis to coma and possible death.
- West Nile Virus – 80% of people do not feel any symptoms. Severe and rare cases cause brain inflammation or meningitis, and sometimes death.
- Zika Virus – The first confirmed case of Zika virus was around 2015. Common symptoms last several days to a week, including fever, rash, headache, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and joint pain.
Luckily, mosquito-borne diseases are not an immediate threat to residents of Hawaii. However, you can still suffer from itchy mosquito bites year-round.
What is DEET?
DEET is a repellent that was created in 1946 by the United States Army to protect soldiers in areas where pests that transmit illnesses. In 1957, DEET was approved for use by the general public. It’s generally used in products that are applied directly to the skin or on clothing to repel mosquitoes and ticks in the form of lotions, sprays, roll-ons, and bracelets.
Always remember, DEET does not kill ticks or mosquitoes.
DEET repels these pests that approach you by creating an invisible barrier around the areas where the product has been applied, causing you to be undetectable to mosquitoes and ticks. Products that contain DEET display the amount of the ingredient by percentage. It’s important to note that higher percentages do not indicate a higher strength of DEET. The amount of DEET within a product dictates how long it will last once applied. For example, a product with 25% DEET will last several hours. However a product containing 4% DEET will last a much shorter length of time. When applying DEET, it’s important that you follow the instructions to remain safe. Although studies have proven that DEET is safe and effective, it isn’t always the best option for everyone. It’s important that you thoroughly research the options yourself or speak with your doctor to make an informed decision.
How can I stop mosquitoes from getting into my yard?
As a homeowner, preventing mosquitoes from living on your property should be top of mind. Unlike much of the United States, our climate in Hawaii encourages mosquitoes to remain active year-round. The main thing that is drawing mosquitoes to your yard is standing water. They’re drawn to this habitat because that’s where they lay their eggs. Even water collected in as small as a bottle cap can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
The number one thing you can do to keep mosquitoes away is to remove the stagnant water around your property. This includes filling in low-lying areas, cleaning your gutters and flipping over wheelbarrows and kiddie pools when not in use. Water can also collect in places such as bird baths, open buckets or bins, kids’ toys, or empty flower pots. Sometimes eliminating standing water is not possible. If you live near a body of water such as a lake, stream, or pond, mosquito activity is nearly guaranteed. Without professional mosquito control, breeding can continue indefinitely.
To keep mosquitoes at bay, you can also repair torn screens in windows and doors. This will help keep the pests from getting inside. Mosquitoes don’t breed indoors, but it’s easy for them to accidentally fly in and bite you if given a chance. Another way to protect against mosquitoes is to wear mosquito repellent when outside. Store bought products that contain DEET work well to repel both mosquitoes and ticks. Always make sure you follow the instructions provided on the product for maximum effectiveness.
How can I keep mosquitoes away naturally?
The following ingredients are listed by the EPA to naturally repel mosquitoes and ticks:
- Citronella Oil – Repels several biting insects including mosquitoes. Masks the scents on your body that may attract insects.
- Nepeta Cataria – Also known as Catmint or Catnip Oil. This product is made to repel black flies, mosquitoes and other biting insects.
- Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – Naturally derived ingredient from eucalyptus plants. Used to repel mosquitoes, biting flies, and gnats.
- DEET – Used to repel mosquitoes and ticks. Creates a scent barrier on your skin that insects find unattractive.
- IR 3535 – Repels mosquitoes, deer ticks, body lice, and biting flies.
It’s important to note that the EPA does not require botanically based repellents to be registered. This leaves a lot of “natural” or “organic” products on the market with limited data to confirm their “green” claims. However, lemon eucalyptus oil has undergone careful examination for effectiveness and remains approved by the EPA as highly effective and of minimal risk.
If you want to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your yard, call Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions! We provide the best quality professional mosquito control services for residents of Oahu. Call us or fill out the contact form on this page to get started!