...by Charles Apperson and Mike Waldvogel, Extension Entomology
The recent bout of heavy but very needed rain will likely trigger a significant increase in mosquito activity in about 10-14 days. In residential areas in particular, now is the time for homeowners to take the initiative to reduce the likelihood of serious mosquito problems around your property before they become reality. Before resorting to insecticide applications, consider a few other critical tasks:
Standing water is the critical item because mosquitoes will not be able breed without it. Permanent bodies of water can pose a more formidable impediment but most of our problems in residential areas are the result of MMOs or "Man-Made Objects" (yes... we guys will take the blame).
Natural low-lying areas will begin to dry slowly but make sure you're not contributing to the problem with clogged drainage ditches, tire ruts, etc.
Other water-collecting items such as empty buckets, tires, dishes under outdoor potted plants, the tarps over boats, equipment, etc. need to be emptied, inverted, discarded or whatever is workable to remove the water.
Have birdbaths? They make great observation posts for watching mosquito larvae in the water. There's no need to add chemicals. Do yourself and the birds a favor and flush out the birdbath. Same thing applies to pet water bowls outdoors (livestock water troughs out in pastures are another issue since they're not always as easily flushed out or routinely maintained).
Excuse time is over - get out the ladder and climb up there and unclog those rain gutters. The decaying leaf material and other debris actually attract mosquitoes. If you're planning home improvements, consider gutter guards to divert the debris. Also, make sure that your downspouts direct the water away from the house and not simply create a big puddle along the side of the house. If you have those concrete or plastic splash blocks, make sure they're directing water *away* from the foundation.
Finally, if you're using rain barrels to collect that precious rain runoff, make sure you have them screened, which helps keep out the junk and the mosquitoes as well. And while you're at it, get your neighbors to do the same. Mosquito control "takes a village" but it only takes one village idiot to make life miserable for the rest of the neighborhood.
Check out our mosquito information at: http://insects.ncsu.edu/Urban/mosquito.htm