War on Mosquitoes
By Minnie Hatz
Hardly anyone likes mosquitoes. I probably like them less than many as they really produce a nasty long lasting welt on me. If I forget the repellent on a warm still evening, I’ll have reminders for a week or more. With insects and their multiplication factors it is hard to combat them with natural predators but I try to protect those things that eat mosquitoes. This year I have had a lot of the large dragonflies darting around the yard. It turns out that they are on a quest for mosquitoes. Keep those dragonflies flying! Swallows are another darting mosquito predator.
This charming nestful of swallows hatched under a porch roof. Yes, it was messy! But they are mosquito predators and so were left to hatch, fledge and go out and eat more mosquitoes.
Some other strategies that work are more passive. I use mosquito dunks in ponds to keep down the larvae This seems really effective as it get them before they are out flying about. Citronella seems to work as well. Of course with citronella and various other vegetation solutions, we are repelling mosquitoes not killing them. Your yard may be brightly lit by citronella scented oil torches and you will be happily mosquito free. Those mosquitoes may be eating up your neighbor though.
When the West Nile virus made its appearance here, just repelling mosquitoes was important. I found dead birds in my yard and know people who were hospitalized with West Nile disease. It is not one to take chances with.
The bug lights of some years ago were found to be less effective as they indiscriminately attracted night flying insects.
Carbon dioxide mosquito traps seem like a solution although they are more expensive, from $300 to $1500 according to a University of Florida web site.
Other factors that the University of Florida article mentions are species of mosquitoes and the range of the various species. Florida has 74 species. They conclude that trying to trap the species that is annoying you right now with a CO2 trap is like trying to catch the grains of sand on a beach. Hmmm. That is a significant expenditure for something that may not really resolve your problem.
I suppose the swallows, dragonflies, bats and other things that prey on mosquitoes are the best bet. If they are not catching mosquitoes with their acrobatic flying stunts, they are certainly entertaining to watch. As I watch them swoop and dart at targets that are invisible to me, I wonder how they possible catch anything and how they avoid collision with each other, tree branches and other things in the air. Do you remember running around in the dusk trying to catch lighting bugs? That was only running around, not flying through the air. I look forward to frost in a few more weeks but in the meantime, swallows, dragonflies and other mosquito eaters, welcome!
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