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Summer days in Texas are full of magic. The sunrise and sunset seem to last for hours and paint the most magnificent hues across the horizon. Skies are expansive and picturesque, clad in brilliant blue and dotted with incandescent white clouds that seem to hang just above your head. The days ring out with call to explore and play, a call tempered only by the heat, which has begun its steady march, and which will drive family and friends to spend their days in pools, lakes, rivers, and anywhere that offers the cooling relief of shade. But while these are exactly the places to enjoy a Texas summer, they come along with an all-too-familiar pest, mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are probably one of the most loathed summer pests, bringing with them irritation, itching, and the most disconcerting, a potential for disease transmission. They are definitely not something you want flying around your Father’s Day BBQ. Yet a gathering of friends and family in your yard or at a park, especially if there is any standing water or well-shaded areas, is exactly where you will encounter these pests. So before you plan the celebration of all things “Dad,” make sure your day won’t be cut short by these winged scourges.

Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

It’s pretty well known that mosquitoes breed in areas of standing water, but that isn’t the only place you will encounter these pests. Adult mosquitoes will often rest in tall grass, weeds, shrubs and brush, especially in shaded areas, during the hottest parts of the day. This means that the average neighborhood will have plenty of places for mosquitoes to build a population. So what are some of the areas of standing water you will find in your yard?

Common Mosquito Sources Around your Home:

  • Water that isn’t regularly emptied/changed in birdbaths, baby pools, untended pools, flowerpots, and pet water bowls
  • Standing water in gutters, fence posts with caps, wheelbarrows, buckets, tarps, tires, recycling bins, grill covers, and even stumps
  • Storm drains and french drains

When Are Mosquitoes Most Active?

In order to fully answer this question, there are two main few factors to consider.

First, there are 176 species of mosquitoes in the United States, 85 of which have been identified in Texas (according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension), and they don’t all have the same behavioral patterns. This means that although we generally associate mosquitoes with the evening and nighttime hours, they are active all day long.

Second, mosquitoes are active only when the weather is right. If temperatures drop and stay below 50°F, they will either hibernate or die off for the season. Once temperatures warm to a consistent 50°F, they become active, with temperatures of 80°F or higher bringing about the most prolific activity. As you can imagine, this means that Texas has a long, robust mosquito season.

Are Mosquitoes Dangerous?

We all know that being bitten by mosquitoes is unpleasant and invariably results in the telltale itchy welts, which can ruin an evening, but there is also a real risk associated with some mosquito bites. Though most mosquitoes are simply annoyances, some species can spread diseases that not only make you sick, but, in rare cases, can cause death. The transmissible diseases to watch out for in the continental United States are: West Nile virus, La Crosse encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and Zika (though Zika is extremely rare in the continental U.S.).

In addition, mosquito bites have the potential to cause a severe allergic reaction. The welts we all have after a bite are due to our bodies’ natural allergic reaction to the saliva deposited by the female mosquito when she bites us and draws our blood. The saliva is an anticoagulant, which allows her faster access to her food source, but which also causes our bodies to react and release histamines. For some people, the allergic reaction can cause symptoms beyond the standard welts and itching, and in rare cases, can lead to anaphylaxis.

Are Mosquitoes Dangerous for Pets?

Not only can mosquito bites be quite dangerous for us, they also have the potential to transmit harmful diseases to our pets. Though the reaction to a mosquito bite in dogs, for example, is often pretty mild, with symptoms similar to those in humans, there is the potential for the transmission of serious diseases such as: Heartworm, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. However, it is important to note that as dangerous as a mosquito bite can be, do not attempt to use an insect repellent on your pets unless it is specifically designed and approved for use on animals. Sprays designed for humans, especially those containing DEET, can be toxic for your pets.

How Do You Get Rid of Mosquitoes?

When it comes to getting rid of mosquitoes there are two main avenues to pursue, and both are needed to keep your Father’s Day and summer celebrations safe and pest free.

First, have a pest control technician treat your yard for mosquitoes. A technician will evaluate the yard for potential hot spots of activity and will treat the yard accordingly. Generally, a liquid spray/mist is used so as to coat all the areas mosquitoes will come in contact with, offering a high degree of pest control. In addition, where applicable, briquettes may be used in certain standing water areas to help control breeding grounds.

Second, take preventative measures, as discussed below, to help keep your yard from being a mosquito haven. No matter how much pesticide you use, if your yard is a significant harborage area, you won’t be able to fully escape the buzz and bite of these pests. Only with the combination of treatment and prevention can you keep your yard a no fly zone for mosquitoes.

How Do I Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Unfortunately, there is no full-proof way to fully escape getting any mosquito bites this summer as you adventure outdoors, but here are some tips to help keep your time at home and in your yard as bite-free as possible.

  • Eliminate any areas of standing water in your yard or on your home (areas of concern were discussed in the section above entitled “Common Mosquito Sources Around your Home”)
  • Fill in or adequately drain any swampy or low-lying areas in your yard
  • Remove or fill in any stumps in your yard
  • Regularly inspect and clean gutters
  • Maintain a well-trimmed yard: keep grass cut short, trees and shrubs trimmed, and remove all brush
  • Keep windows and doors closed or make sure all open doors and windows have fully intact screens

This year don’t let mosquitoes ruin your outdoor fun; take action now and let this summer be pest and worry free. Plus, what better gift for dad than knowing that his yard will be safe for family fun and all day BBQs all summer long?

Additional Resources:

“Job 1: Eliminating Conducive Conditions” – PCT Online
“Mosquito Info” – The American Mosquito Control Association
“Prevent Mosquito Bites” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention
“Mosquito Bites in Dogs” – Wag!

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