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Backyard mosquito control refers to reducing the number of mosquitoes in the yard, and preventing the insects from biting people. Mosquito bites are not only uncomfortable, they can potentially spread diseases such as malaria and some types of encephalitis. Effective backyard mosquito control often requires eliminating breeding places for these annoying pests as well as using chemical or natural poisons and repellents or electric repellent devices.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. An important step to backyard mosquito control is to remove all the places mosquitoes might lay their eggs. Even very small pools of water are enough to support larvae growth. Backyard debris such as empty beverage containers or old tires can harbor mosquito eggs. Blocked rain gutters and flowerpot saucers can also accumulate standing water.
Chemical repellents and pesticides can be used in ponds or decorative fountains, and birdbaths should be drained weekly. Natural products containing bacteria that attack mosquito larvae are also available. Another option is to stock ponds with mosquito fish, a variety of top-feeding minnow that feeds on mosquito eggs and larvae.
A wide variety of synthetic and natural sprays, gels, and other types of mosquito repellent are available. Some of these are sprayed into the air or applied to fabrics while others are used in candles or applied directly to the skin. Mosquito repellents, such as diethyltoluamide and permethrin, are effective for preventing bites. Natural products containing citronella, cedar oil, or garlic may also be used. Mosquito repellents used in candles also discourage mosquitoes with their smoke.
Insecticide sprays might be needed for backyard mosquito control. Larger systems involve sets of misters along a fence or eave. The misters are attached to a large drum of insecticide, usually pyrethin, and they spray at regular intervals. While these are effective at killing mosquitoes, they also kill other beneficial insects that feed on mosquitoes. The safety of pyrethin and other insecticides for people and animals is not well known.
Electrical devices used in backyard mosquito control include bug lights and carbon dioxide emission systems. A bug zapper is a fixture hung in outdoor areas where people congregate. An ultraviolet light attracts mosquitoes, where they get electrocuted by a metal mesh surrounding the bulb. Carbon dioxide emission systems can run on either propane or electricity. Mosquitoes look for warm, exhaled carbon dioxide to locate hosts. Some carbon dioxide emitters draw the mosquitoes away from people, while others vacuum them when they approach.