low risk mosquito solutions

Asked April 22, 2016, 2:23 PM EDT

We have a toddler who has very bad reactions to mosquito bites. Couple this with my concern for the spreading Zika virus (linked to long-term neurological issues) and we are faced with what to do to reduce mosquito exposure. We have in the past used Mosquito Squad to spray but I am concerned about exposure to potential carcinogens or other impacts of the chemicals (asthma/allergies etc.) are there any known low risk treatments we can use on our yard? Is their product safe? We live in a low lying area that has many wetlands so although we can reduce breeding in our yard there are many pools of shallow water where mosquito larva can be found. Thank you so much for your time. One other note, my father died of lymphoma so I do feel that we may have a genetic predisposition to such environmental factors.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Mosquitoes can be an area wide issue and there are many mosquito species in MD. Among them is the Asian tiger mosquito. They are small, black with white striping on the legs and are out flying (and biting) during the day. If the mosquitoes come out primarily at night, then it is most likely a native mosquito which breeds in bodies of water such as wetlands that is the problem. But no matter what the species is the control tactics are very similar.

Reducing populations involves eliminating any water that is present in containers and other areas on your property. For additional information see our mosquito page, http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/mosquitoes.

Any water you can't regularly drain or change should be treated with mosquito dunks which contain Bt, a biological insecticide. Mosquitoes like to rest on plants that tend to hold moisture on their leaves, so increase air circulation in an area by pruning shrubs and cutting down tall weeds.

We don't recommend spraying or fogging with an insecticide for multiple reasons. The main reason is that the recommended insecticides can kill non-target species, including many beneficial insects and pollinators. Plus sprays often miss the target and do nothing to control the larvae. It is more effective to target the larva than spray the adults. Plus multiple sprays are necessary which is time consuming and expensive.

It is prudent to protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, pants, and a hat (you can even find clothes treated with insecticides that repel insect pests). Repellents containing Deet work. Make sure to follow label instructions and consult with your pediatrician before applying to children. See our publication on preventing mosquito bites:
http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/non_HGIC_FS/FS811.pdf mh