Monday, April 22, 2013

Mosquito Control

One of the first things I was amazed by when I came to Hawaii ( no, I didn't discover the Tahitian canoeists until later) was the low mosquito population. Coming from New Jersey, I expected to see scads of the nasty buggers. Especially in southern Jersey, one gets eaten alive during the warm months, with the worst time being spring before the state has treated the bogs and ponds. And although some places here had a few, some more than others, nowhere came even close to what I was used to. That all being said, we hate the little biting buggers and take steps to control them.

Totally eliminating mosquitos in my area is probably impossible. That's because there are spots that tend to hold water in around here that allow them to breed in remote locations in the woods. We have small lava tubes just below the surface of the ground where water tends to pool. I lifted the top off of an open one once and found hundreds of very active mosquito larvae in the water. Water cupped in a tree crotch, water at the base of bromilliads, water in cupped lava formations all can be breeding grounds. 

I've been fairly successful in reducing their numbers around the house. I noticed that they tend to hang around semi-shady areas, so that's where I concentrate my battles. I make water traps so that I can destroy the larvae before they molt into adults. Small basins, or anything that 
will hold water, make good traps. An inch or two of water does fine. I have around a dozen of these basins set around. I empty them each week, eliminating a good chunk of potential mosquitos. Then they are refilled with fresh water. 

Along these same lines, I made two decorative little fish ponds amid the landscaping. Each is a home to guppies. Since I never, ever see mosquito larvae in the ponds, I'd say that the guppies are  100% effective. 

I make sure there is no pooled water about. No tin cans, tires, buckets, cups, etc that could hold water.  No tarps stored outdoors. No wheelbarrow just sitting out there when not in use. That sort of thing. 

Rain gutters......I was surprised when I looked. Dozens of larvae! The pitch is not enough to prevent water from pooling in spots. The gutters really need to be reset, but it's a job that I can't get to right now. So I use a hose the flush them out once a week. 

Dunks. You can buy them at the store. I use them in the catchment tanks. Even though I have covers on the tanks, they don't keep mosquitos out. (That's why I dont care if I flush the gutters into the cotchment tank.)  Dunks work great in killing the larvae. 

Livestock tanks, like the catchment tanks, become a haven for mosquitos. I could use dunks, but guppies works just fine. A lot cheaper and self maintaining. 

The field catchment tank that I use for the garden has mosquito fish in it. True to their name, they hunt mosquito larvae and eat them. 

Occasionally some of the little biting buggers get into the house. The best way we've found to kill them is one of those bug zappers that looks like a tennis racket. It's rather satisfying to hear them explode. 

I've never tried one of those mosquito machines, the kind that has a lure, fan, uses a propane tank. I've heard from people that tried them that they work so-so. Since I have the majority of our mosquitos under control, I don't see the need to spend lots of money buying a machine, paying for lure and maintenance, buying propane. 

A trick I learned back on the mainland...... Well, I don't use it here because I don't need to, but it worked back in Jersey. I noticed that mosquitos were really attracted to our dogs. I could put one into a wire dog crate and use it as mosquito bait. At the end of the crate opposite the door I'd set up a box fan so that the air blew away from the crate. I made a billowy cover out of old ,women's stockings for the box fan, so that when it was turned on the cover filled out like a four cornered sock. So..... I'd put a dog in the crate, cover the top and sides with a sheet, turn on the fan. The dog slept in comfort on a hot night and the fan caught hundreds and hundreds of adult mosquitos. I think there is a commercial version of this idea advertised on the Internet. I'll see if I can find it and post a photo. 

11 comments:

  1. Somehow I can't see how pantyhose turns into a windsock, but the little buggahs just pile up and die, or do you need to dip them in something? I'd think they would be like little protein jimmies on the chicken feed.

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  2. Mosquito jimmies! That's a good one! Back then I bought chicken food by the 50 lb bag at the feed store. It never crossed my mind to feed them anything else.

    The pantyhose windsock was held to the dog crate with bent paper clips. So in the morning I would unclip the sock, bunch it up so that any live mosquito didn't escape (many were dead), then place it in the freezer. By the time I wanted to set up the trap again, the mosquitos were dead. I'd just shake out the sock and reattach it to the dog crate.

    In hindsight this was a lot of effort. Andi don't think it reduced the population all that well because I was trapping mosquitos only from one spot on my back porch. But it made me feel good at the time. Plus it taught me that I needed to be far more aggressive in my mosquito control efforts if I wanted to make a respectable difference.

    Today I have a fat old black cat the is a real mosquito magnet. My husband will sometimes take to mosquito zapper and gleefully kill the dozen mosquitos hovering above the cat. Like he says,it feels sooooooo good to hear the little buggahs explode.

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  3. I found the commercial version of my mosquito trap. They have a website -- www.skeeterbag.com
    Their product is far more elegant than my homemade idea, but it's essentially the same. And I use to place a sheet over the dog crate top and sides, making the set up more like a wind tunnel, sucking the mosquitos into the trap.

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  4. That's a great thing to do. If we can't kill them all at once, you can still apply some techniques to keep them out of your house. Eliminating all the possible places for them to live in is a good start, but I think it will take time before they all disappear in the gutter especially in rainy season. Anyway it's great to know that at least in some places or countries, mosquitoes are less of a problem like in Hawaii. - Maurise Gelman @ MosquitoSquad.com

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  5. Hi, I liked this blog very much..we also manufacture and supply Mosquito Bat in India.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

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  6. I think mosquito traps the best choose to control them, for example propane trap or ultra violet.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't tried a propane mosquito trap. They don't fit into my plan for low input/low impact homesteading. And besides, they only do a so-so job. My mini ponds do a far better job of eliminating the next generation. I've now added several more mini ponds stocked with fish. Thus my property is close to being mosquito free. Whenever I discover a new patch of mosquito activity, I simply make another self sustaining mini pond.

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  7. This is helpful, nonetheless it can be crucial so that you can check out the following website:
    top-5-best-mosquito-killers

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    Replies
    1. Buchanan, your hyperlink leads to a site that promotes the sale of electronic "mosquito zappers" which, in my experience, are not very effective, if at all. They attract and kill very few mosquitoes, leaving dozens or hundreds untouched. Personally I could never recommend any of those devices. They simply and truthfully are not effective mosquito control.

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