Ask the Entomologist: Mosquitoes and Spring Cleaning

It may still be wintry where you are, but it’s never too soon to think about Spring Cleaning! Before you clean your closets and make that annual trek to donate your clothes, think about what you need to do in your outdoor living space to prepare for Spring.

Dr. Craig Stoops, LCDR MSC USN (ret.), Mosquito Authority’s expert in entomology, answers a few questions about stopping mosquitoes before they start.

It snows where I live, and the temperatures hover around freezing for weeks at a stretch. How can there possibly be mosquitoes lurking in my yard?

Different mosquito species spend the colder months in different life stages. An important species, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, spends the cold months as eggs. Those eggs were laid in the late fall in containers holding standing water, and were glued just above the water line. Species like the Northern House Mosquito seek shelter in the late fall and will spend the winter in tree holes, caves, and in man-made structures like culverts or sewers. Some species that spend the winter as adults will take to the wing on warmer days and fly around your yard. They probably won’t be a nuisance, but sometimes even these wintertime mosquitoes may seek to bite you.

If I get rid of eggs and standing water, does that mean I will not have any mosquitoes this Spring and Summer?

Getting rid of mosquito eggs and larvae by “Tipping and Tossing” containers that have standing water is important throughout the mosquito season. However, if you have natural or man-made containers filled with water available in the spring, mosquitoes will move in from outside your yard and use those containers as breeding habitats. It is important to remain vigilant and remove any containers and debris from your yard to lower the habitats available to mosquitoes.

I live in the south where it’s warm all winter and the mosquitoes are still hanging around. Does it really make a difference if I do Spring cleaning in my yard?

Yes. It is important to keep your yard free of containers that hold water and provide habitat for mosquito breeding throughout the year. In Spring in the southern U.S., the days get longer which triggers more mosquitoes to hatch. This is when you may notice and increase in their populations. If you do a thorough cleaning of your yard in the spring, you won’t provide as many habitats for the mosquitoes to build up larger and larger populations as the days get warmer and environmental conditions become more conducive for mosquitoes to thrive.

Dr. Craig Stoops LCDR MSC USN (ret.) is a retired U.S. Navy Medical Entomologist who has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States and around the world. Craig wields a B.S. in Biology from Shippensburg University, and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Entomology from Clemson University. He is Board Certified by the Entomological Society of America in Medical and Veterinary Entomology.

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