If there are any places around your home and garden where water can collect you may be raising mosquitoes. You should get rid of old tires, tin cans, bottles, jars, buckets and other containers, or you should keep them empty of water. Keep rain barrels covered and screened. Repair leaky pipes, outside faucets, and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently to avoid damp soil. Also change and scrub vases, bird baths or watering pans for pets and livestock at least twice a week.

Mosquitoes are an annoying and serious problem in home and garden . If you have work to do outdoors or just enjoy your backyard in the evening they can make work very unenjoyable and spoil your good time.

They are capable of transmitting diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and dengue to man, encephalitis to man and horses and heart worm to dogs and cats. And, now the West Nile virus. So not only are they annoying but these diseases are serious and should not be taken lightly.

We are all too familiar with a mosquito’s appearance but just in case you don’t know what they look like the following is a description. They have long slender bodies, narrow wings with a fringe of scales on the edges of the wings and along the veins, and long, thin legs. The females have firm mouthparts well adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. The males cannot suck blood but both sexes feed on nectar of various plants.

Their life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs may be laid singly or in rafts, deposited in water, on the sides of containers where water will cover, or on damp soil where they can hatch when flooded by rainwater or high tides. I think this is what happened between Key Marco and Goodland last week due to the enormous area of standing water in the mangrove die off area whenever it rains. Mosquito control reported this area to have very high mosquito numbers. When it rains this water has no where to go and thus becomes a giant puddle to not only produce mosquitoes but to further kill more mangroves. No fish can get into the area to feed on larvae.

All of the mosquito species require water for breeding. Mosquito larvae are not adapted to life in moving waters. They occur instead in quiet water. Mosquitoes do not breed in the heavy undergrowth of weeds or shrubs. Although these places offer excellent refuge for adults, they do not provide a suitable habitat for mosquito larvae.

The eggs elongated, about 1/40 inch long, are laid in batches of 50 to 200 and one female may lay several batches. In warm water, the eggs of most species hatch in two or three days. Some eggs require a drying period, remaining dormant for months. They both hatch soon after coming in contact with water which is why we always have an outbreak soon after a good rainstorm.

Some species feed on cattle, horses or other domestic animals while others prefer man. A few species feed only on cold blooded animals and some live entirely on nectar or plant juices. Some are active at night and others only during the day time.

Mosquito control is the responsibility of both the individual and the local Mosquito Control District.

Individuals should follow the above listed advice to eliminate standing water from around their homes and gardens . Keep your screens in good, tight fitting repair. And use repellents like DEET, oil of citronella or Avon’s Skin-so-Soft.

Some years the mosquitoes are worse than others. Do all you can in your own yard and surrounding area to eliminate breeding grounds to help keep the populations down.

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