Mosquitoes in the back yard are not only annoying during a barbeque but mosquito transmitted diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, and ross river fever, can be a danger to your families health. There are a number of ways to deal with the outbreak, but a two pronged approach of prevention and cure will give the best results.
Life Cycle of a Mosquito:
As the mosquito develops it goes through four distinct stages: Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. These stages can be easily recognised by sight.
Egg: The mosquito lays its eggs one at a time, they can be individual or joined together to form rafts. They both float on the surface of the water. Most eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hours, with water being a necessary part of their habitat.
Larva: As the eggs hatch larvae emerge and live in the water, coming to the surface regularly to breathe. Over the next 10 days the larvae will shed their skins four times, each time growing larger. The larvae regularly feed on microorganisms and other organic matter in the water. As the larvae moult the fourth time the larvae will change in to pupae.
Pupa: During the pupal stage no feeding takes place, but the pupae will move around in the water by flicking their tails to avoid predators. The transformation into an adult occurs during this stage, much like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Once ready, the skin of the pupae splits open and the mosquito emerges.
Adult: The new adult will rest on the surface of the water until it dries and the body parts harden. Feeding on blood and mating do not begin for a few days.
Mosquito habitat around the home and garden
As discussed in the life cycle section water is a key part of the life cycle of a mosquito, which means that any sources of standing water will be a popular breeding site.
Some breeding sites in your yard may be:
- Dog water bowls
- Water tanks
- Pot plant water dishes
- Bird baths
- Garden drains
- Water features
During the day adult mosquitoes like to frequent areas that are cool, sheltered, and dark. Places such as sheds, shaded garden beds, and around pot plants.
Two pronged approach to eliminating mosquitoes from your yard
Remove all breeding sites
- Check your yard for all standing water, mosquitoes can breed in less than a cup of water. Old car tyres are often missed as they may have some water inside.
- Change your dogs water every two days, use the water on your garden
- For garden drains which hold water between rain events, a small amount of vegetable oil or kerosene will create a film on the water preventing the larvae from breathing.
- Fill pot plant dishes with sand, the water will still be present for your plants but not able to sustain mosquito larvae
- Unless your water feature has turbulent water, place some goldfish or other native species in to eat any larvae that hatch.
Killing your adult mosquito population
In areas where you find a bulk population of adult mosquitoes a quick dose of fly spray or other insecticide will make short work of them.
Still got mosquitoes?
Often after you have removed all breeding sites and have killed off the bulk of the adult population it is not uncommon to still have mosquitoes. Just because you have been diligent in removing all breeding sites it does not mean that your neighbours have, or alternatively you have a natural water source such as a creek or a dam nearby.
Build a DIY Catcher
Darthorso over at Instructables.com has put up instructions on how to build your own mosquito trap.
11 Plants that repel mosquitoes
Common plants that you may already have that release odours that mosquitoes hate
- Lemon balm
Commercial repellant options*
Coghlan’s Mosquito Coil – 10 Coils
Murphy’s Mosquito Candle – All Natural Insect Repellent Candle – RSPO Palm wax infused with Citronella, Lemongrass & Rosemary
ThermaCELL MR-GJ Mosquito Operated Personal Pest Control Appliance