To understand mosquito prevention, it’s critical to understand environmental factors that can contribute to increased mosquito populations. Mosquitoes use standing water as a breeding ground. If water remains stagnant for more than a few days, mosquito larvae can develop, particularly in debris-filled water that acts as a food source to the larvae. Some mosquitoes can breed in containers as small as a soda bottle cap, so even a small amount of standing water can contribute to rising mosquito populations.
Armed with this knowledge, landscaping professionals can design features to help reduce the likelihood mosquito populations will reproduce in the area. Ponds, fountains or other water features may be attractive additions to a property but may take additional care and maintenance to help reduce the likelihood of mosquito populations multiplying there. Certain soil types or natural depressions in the terrain can also cause water to pool more easily, so landscaping professionals should plan accordingly when designing a project.
Contractors should conduct full property inspections for potential water pooling areas every time they visit a client’s space. Drainage areas can easily become blocked with tree limbs, leaves, rocks or other natural items, which in turn can create stagnant water in the area. In addition, to help protect workers from mosquitoes while on the job, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants and applying an insect repellent before spending time outdoors.
Even after they leave, landscape contractors can leave their clients with best practices to help prevent increases in mosquito populations on their properties. For instance, they should be sure window and door screens are intact with no gaps or other openings that could allow insects into the structure. If the property has standing water, contractors should work with their client to ensure the container is emptied every three to five days and the sides of the container are scraped clean to dislodge any eggs before it is refilled. Monthly mosquito control services that treat for both young and adult mosquitoes can help further reduce mosquito populations, so landscape contractors should encourage their clients to work with a licensed pest management partner to protect their property from these pests.
Mosquito control can prove challenging for clients, so landscape contractors should lend their valuable perspective in helping clients find long-term solutions. Through smart design and regular maintenance, property owners can be well-equipped to help fight against the pest.
Angela M. Tucker, Ph.D., B.C.E. is an expert in entomology and manager of technical services for Terminix, Memphis, Tennessee, a commercial pest management provider. She provides technical support for a variety of Terminix and ServiceMaster business units.