Your Field Guide to Battle Mosquitoes

Published on
close-up of mosquito on skin


Don’t be mosquito meat this summer.

Beat back the bloodsuckers by following this simple battle plan. Here’s a map to get started, followed by some key tips:

map of typical yard showing mosquito control measures

Control Mosquitoes Where You Live

  • Eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a teaspoon of water. Here are 12 locations to check at least weekly for standing water — tip and toss that water:
    1. Buckets, watering cans, bottle caps or any trash that can hold water
    2. Corrugated pipes for downspout drainage
    3. Bird baths and pet water bowls
    4. Potted plants with saucers
    5. Children’s toys
    6. Tarps on woodpiles and garden equipment
    7. Grill and patio furniture
    8. Wheelbarrows
    9. Containers under decks and porches
    10. Garbage cans, recycle bins and other barrels
    11. Tires
    12. Boats and boat covers

    Not everyone will check or know to check these locations, so please share this list with neighbors and your homeowner’s association.

  • Treat standing water with a larvicide if it cannot be eliminated. If you cannot get rid of the water, treat it with a mosquito-specific, environmentally-friendly product such as Mosquito Dunks®, which are available at hardware stores and garden centers. Follow label instructions when applying.
  • If mosquitoes are biting, consider treating your yard with an insecticide. When used according to label instructions, an insecticide can help control biting mosquitoes. Pay attention to areas where they hide, such as dense vegetation and ground cover.
  • Organize a neighborhood clean-up. Get rid of litter and debris, discard old tires and manage vegetation that mosquitoes may be using as hiding places.
  • There may be other places or containers in your yard where water collects that are not on this list, so be sure to check throughout your yard for standing water.


Protect Yourself and Your Family From Mosquito Bites

  • Wear an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), IR 3535, para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. Insect repellent is safe and effective for children and pregnant women, too. Always apply according to label instructions. If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and then repellent.
  • Dress to protect. Cover exposed skin by wearing loose-fitting, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. For extra protection, treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Never apply permethrin on skin and always follow label instructions.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your home. Keep doors and windows closed. Make sure screens are in good repair. Use air-conditioning when available.


Why Wage Battle Against Mosquitoes?

Besides the unpleasant and itchy result of bites, mosquitoes can transmit disease. West Nile virus is found in Culex mosquitoes in Northern Virginia every year. When people are infected with the virus, it can cause symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pain and rash. It is also potentially fatal.

Mosquito-borne diseases can be found in many parts of the world. Chikungunya virus, dengue virus, malaria and Zika virus are reported in returning travelers. Anyone traveling to areas where these diseases are transmitted are at risk of returning home infected. While all these diseases can potentially cause serious illness, pregnant women and women who might become pregnant should be careful not to get Zika because it can cause birth defects.

Aedes albopictus is the main nuisance mosquito in our area and it can potentially spread West Nile, Chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses. It lays its eggs and develop in small, artificial containers like corrugated downspout extensions, dishes under potted plants, tarps that catch water, buckets, etc. They do not lay eggs in large bodies of water like ditches, creeks, ponds or lakes.

One of our own staffers describes mosquito-related things in his 2019 rap video, “West Nile Story.”

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