ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) Mosquito Control Program urges residents to take simple measures to reduce mosquito populations on their property this summer. Aside from being nuisances, mosquitoes can also carry a number of diseases harmful to humans and animals.
“Protect you and your family from mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating potential mosquito breeding grounds on your property,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This time of year is hot, humid, and wet in Maryland, which is ideal for mosquitoes. It is important to survey your home and rid your property of standing water where mosquitoes could potentially lay eggs.”
Maryland’s most common nuisance mosquito is the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). This invasive species is active during the day, especially at dawn and dusk, and can be particularly aggressive. Adult female Asian tiger mosquitoes bite humans and animals as they need blood to produce eggs. While biting hosts, mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, among others.
Asian tiger mosquitoes are known to fly only a few blocks from their breeding grounds and prefer to live near homes and neighboring woods. Female Asian tiger mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs in their lifetime. They breed in standing water rather than marshlands. Common household items found in yards can quickly become breeding grounds for these mosquitoes. After eggs are laid and hatched, mosquito larvae live in water for five to 10 days. That is why all Marylanders must survey their property and drain or remove anything where water can pool or stand.
Here are some tips to mosquito-proof your home this season:
- Check all window screens in your home or business to be sure they are intact and do not contain holes. Repair any damaged screens.
- Remove corrugated drain pipe from downspouts and consider replacing it with smooth PVC piping. Each corrugation is a potential mosquito breeding ground. If removal isn’t possible, use screening to cover openings.
- Properly store children’s toys, especially plastic toys that have small areas where water can gather.
- Store containers, including buckets, pales, water bottles, storage totes, and recycling containers, where they cannot collect rainwater. Keep trash cans and rain barrels covered.
- Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
- Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used for playground equipment.
- Store plastic wading pools inside or turn them upside down when not in use.
- Turn over or remove clay pots and plastic containers.
- Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to drain the water.
- Pump out bilges in boats. Turn canoes and small boats upside down for storage.
- Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
- Remove pet food and water dishes that are not being used.
- Flush livestock water troughs twice a week.
- Flush water in the bottom of plant holders twice a week.
- Fix dripping outside water faucets.
- Turn wheelbarrows upside down when stored outside.
- Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvement projects to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems.
Additionally, the department has produced a series of video PSAs on eliminating mosquito breeding zones. For more helpful tips and information, please visit MDA’s Mosquito Control Program webpage. For information on mosquito-borne diseases and West Nile virus, please visit the Maryland Department of Health’s website.
–Megan Guilfoyle, Maryland Department of Agriculture