Protect the Bees- Control the Mosquitos

Right around the corner are campfires, cocktails on the deck, and grilling hot dogs and burgers while enjoying those warm Summer days. With the Summer enjoyment often brings out the mosquito's too.

Chemical free mosquito control- Bee friendly mosquito control

The Mosquito

Mosquitos or as they are know scientifically, the Culicidae, live 2 weeks to 6 months and require standing water in order to reproduce. This means any water sitting around in a bucket, a tree, a tire, bee waterer or similar, poses a perfect breeding ground for more of those pesky mosquitos.

Mosquitos are part of a diverse eco-system and provide a food source for many other animals and insects. However, they are also known for their ability to transmit diseases such as;

Anopheles mosquitoes are the only species known to carry malaria. They also transmit filariasis (also called elephantiasis) and encephalitis. Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile virus. And Aedes mosquitoes, of which the voracious Asian tiger is a member, carry yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis.- National Geographic

Traditional Mosquito Control

Growing up, we lived in the middle of an area that encompassed around 75% of the land being peat moss swamp with swamps and lakes speckled around a 20 mile X 20 Mile area. Needless to say, when you went outside in July in the evening, the mosquitos would almost pick you up and fly you away to their layer. Well, maybe not literally, but I do remember the only way we could enjoy outdoors after 7PM was to either bathe in bug spray or our Dad would be out with the fogger blasting the edges of grass and woods with what made our yard look like the trailer to Michael Jackson's Thriller.

The fogger was effective, however the vaporized pesticide I'm sure left very little other creatures alive as well, including any bees. Pesticides are a major concern for any bee colony or beekeeper. The most commonly used pesticide/ insecticide in home gardens, farms, school yards, parks and urban landscapes – are a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids.

As the Xerces Society explains, these chemicals are used to kill sap-sucking and leaf-chewing insects; they are systemic, meaning they are absorbed by the plant tissues and expressed in all parts, including nectar and pollen. Bees, butterflies, and other flower-hopping insects are harmed by the residues; even at low doses, honey bees’ ability to navigate, fly and forage is affected. What is most worrisome is the, “prolific inclusion of these insecticides in home garden products,” notes the Xerces Society. “Home garden products containing neonicotinoids can legally be applied in far greater concentrations in gardens than they can be on farms – sometimes at concentrations as much as 120 times as great which increases the risk to pollinators.”

Avoiding neonicotinoids all together and adopting a more organic or proactive approach to controlling pests and insects will better help keep an intact eco system while also protecting insects that are not doing any damage and likely helping your crops, yards, or similar.

Bee Safe Mosquito Control-

As with all pest management control, ALWAYS refer to the manufacturers doses and application requirements. In many cases, failure to adhere to the labels doses and application instructions is a violation of Federal and State laws. If you have any questions always contact the manufacturer for instructions.

Preventing Mosquitos From Breeding

The best thing you can do is to eliminate areas where mosquitos breed, like standing water. It doesn't take much water for there to be an excellent breeding ground for hundreds if not thousands of mosquito larva. It only takes around 8 days for an egg to emerge into an adult mosquito from water to flight. So making sure there is no standing water for 5-8 days will play an important role in reducing local mosquito population. Common places that mosquitos hatch from around the house:

  • Pools or Ponds around the house- Note treated pools are not an environment mosquitos can survive

  • Dirty or improperly slopped gutters

  • Rain water collection barrels

  • Bird Baths

  • Buckets, tires, pots or similar around the yard or farm

One way to keep those ponds and rain barrels without contributing to the mosquito population is to use these Mosquito Dunks. The active ingredient in mosquito dunks as (quoting an entomologist with the New Mexico State U extension) "Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis kills aquatic flies (mosquitos) larvae but not other insects" (or anything else, apparently). Simply placing the dunks in ponds, rain barrels or similar (using the manufactures suggested dose and applications of course) will prevent mosquito larvae from surviving.

Pesticide Knowledge

As we are looking to manage pests we need to always keep in mind its overall effect within the local eco system. I like to use Beyond Pesticides as a good resource when I have any questions or need help with solutions to pests in my garden. We often have our hosts for our host a hives product call and ask us if they have any questions and we are often referring them to beyond pesticides as a good resource or to use the products above for controlling mosquitos or similar.