Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A rainy week could soon mean a swarm of mosquitoes in your yard

An Aedes aegypti mosquito takes a blood meal from her human host. (WYDaily/Courtesy Flickr, Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Director, Center. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, University of Notre Dame)
An Aedes aegypti mosquito takes a blood meal from her human host. (WYDaily/Courtesy Flickr, Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Director, Center. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, University of Notre Dame)

Greater Williamsburg has been besieged by rain over the past week, and that may bring more than puddles to your yard — it could very well bring unwanted pests like mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still, standing water, according to Robert Rummels, owner of Mosquito Joe of West Richmond and the Peninsula.

And with a week’s worth of rain, mosquitoes will have plenty of places to choose from.

“You’re going to have standing water all over your yard, so we encourage homeowners to be vigilant,” Rummels said. “Even a bottle cap’s amount of water can equal hundreds of mosquitoes.”

Female mosquitoes will lay between 300 and 500 eggs at a time, and they take between a week or two to hatch, he said.

A rain shower may be good for the lawn, but homeowners caught sleeping may soon wake up to a yard buzzing with pests.

“A week later you may be inundated and you’ll wonder what happened,” Rummels said, adding warm weather speeds up the mosquitoes’ gestation period.

The mosquitoes that inhabit Virginia carry diseases such as West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever, Zika, Dengue fever, Malaria, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Rummels said.

Rummels suggests homeowners remember the “four T’s” when caring for their lawn: tip, turn, toss and treat.

Tip and turn over anything that has collected rainwater — by emptying the vessel, any eggs will dry out and cease developing.

Children’s toys like Tonka trucks and Frisbees, baby pools, wheelbarrows and flowerpots left scattered across the yard can hold standing water long after a storm passes. Even the water in birdbaths should be replaced on a weekly basis, Rummels said.

Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle. After hatching from an egg as larva, they quickly become a pupa before emerging into an adult. By remembering to tip and turn, Rummels said residents can put a dent in local mosquito populations.

“The thing that’s cool is that the egg, the larva and the pupa can only live and survive in standing water,” he said. “If our homeowners were to eliminate or get rid of any standing water, that would limit 75 percent of the overall life cycle.”

The third T, toss, will help prevent the spread of not only mosquitoes, but other pests like ticks and fleas.

Each of the three bloodsuckers like to live in shady, moist and cool areas close to the ground.

“Grass clippings, compost piles, general yard debris, last fall’s leaves that are decomposing that you haven’t raked up yet [are] prime real estate for all three,” Rummels said.

Fortunately, such habitats can be removed from most yards, and pests will be tossed out as well when homeowners take action.

“You’re not going to eliminate them, but they’re probably going to leave your yard and go into your neighbor’s,” he said. “If the neighbor does a nice job tidying up after themselves, and if everybody on the cul-de-sac did that, you’d have a nearly bug-free cul-de-sac.”

Finally, if nothing else has worked, Rummels said it’s time to give a pest control specialist a call so they can resort to the final T: treat.

After all, everyone should be able to enjoy some fresh air this summer without having to endlessly swat mosquitoes away.

“Everybody has a different threshold, but if you’re outside and doing the Macarena and there’s no music playing, it’s time to treat,” he said.

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