CLCA Recommendations to Help Protect You and Your Family From Mosquitoes

By Barbara Landrith, Outreach Specialist

Experts say that mosquitoes spreading the potentially deadly West Nile Virus only need 1/4 inch of stagnate water to breed and they hatch in only 7-10 days. The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) is pleased to offer some simple recommendations for your yard, to help keep mosquitoes from breeding in the first place. These tips will help protect you and your family from this annoying and harmful pest.

  • Check and remove all standing water from items such as wheelbarrows, garden lights, tires, unused plant containers, toys, garden equipment, pool covers, tarps, pipes, drains, boats, canoes, recycling bins, trash cans, birdbaths and more. Many items can be covered or turned upside down to prevent the accumulation of water. Cover chain link fence posts with metal or plastic pipes and change the water in your birdbath every other day.
  • Some playground equipment accumulates water. Be sure to examine swings, slides, forts and other structures for standing water. Drill drainage holes in tire swings and look for ways to keep water from accumulating.
  • Do not over water and be sure to remove or fix any areas of excess standing water. Check all rain gutters, drain spouts, and drainage pipes. Keep gutters clear of debris. They can become breeding grounds when full of water and debris. If needed, adjust your irrigation to avoid standing water and also fix any outdoor leaks from faucets, air conditioners, hoses, irrigation pipes or valves.
  • Clean slimy growth at the edge of ponds or water features and remove clumps of plants or debris, which might cause stagnate water in streams. Be sure to keep pumps running daily for water features to keep the water fresh. If applicable consider mosquito fish or other fish which eat mosquito larvae for your pond or water feature. Mosquito dunks or donuts can also be used. Some of these are harmful to fish, birds and bees, so be sure to read the label carefully.
  • Pools and spas that are well maintained are generally not a problem, because pool chemicals and filters generally kill any larvae. However, be sure to use dunks in any deserted pools or spas. With our state’s depressed housing market, there are more and more neglected pools. If you know of a neglected pool, be sure to check with your city or county to see if they have a program to maintain neglected pools.
  • Trim and thin shrubs, bushy plants and remove weeds, especially those around water. Also eliminate water from dead tree stumps and hollow areas of live trees. These areas can be filled with sand.
  • Keep shed roofs maintained and watch for standing water around the foundation or on the roof.
  • Make sure door and window screens are in good working order and that both shut completely when closed to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Birds are especially susceptible to the West Nile Virus.
  • Should you find a dead bird in your yard, some health departments would like you to bring it in so they can test it. Always avoid barehanded contact with any dead animal. You can safely dispose or transfer the bird to a plastic bag using a shovel or gloves. Be sure to double or triple bag and if possible use a plastic bag that seals. Continue to use gloves to transport to the health department or trash and then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Please contact your local health department for procedures in your area.

    Barbara Landrith Outreach Specialist

    California Landscape Contractors Association

    By Barbara Landrith, Outreach Specialist