July Animal - Mosquitoes
University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Educator Dennis Ferraro is also the resident herpetologist at the School of Natural Resources. Dennis writes timely articles on animals that you might see on your acreage in Nebraska, ranging from mammals to insects. This month features one of Dennis' favorite topics - snakes. To the right, Dennis is helping a snake (not a garter snake) shed its skin.
The hot, humid weather conditions that we will experience after the recent rains are excellent for mosquito production. Besides being annoying, these small insects can transmit diseases. They will appear in force about 10 days after a rain. The female must bite and get a blood meal to lay eggs successfully. Males do not bite and only feed on plant nectar. The female mosquito will deposit about 200 eggs on stagnant water found in old tires, non-draining gutters, birdbaths, flowerpots, roadside ditches, or anywhere there is standing water. Always try to eliminate as many of these egg-laying sites as possible.
If you have a pond or other bodies of standing water, you can prevent mosquito development several ways. One is to use a bacterial product, Bacillus thuringiensis (i.e. ‘Mosquito Dunks’) that is placed in the water and affects the larval form of the insect. In addition, several growth regulator products are available commercially that prevent the mosquito larva from becoming an adult. Both of these items work very well in ponds and are safe for fish, other animals, and people. A native predator fish such as the Plains Top minnow may control mosquito larvae in a large pond, but first consult the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for information and feasibility regarding your situation.
To protect you and your family from these pests, use personal repellents when outdoors. DEET is the most common effective chemical ingredient. Always use as directed on the label. Try to avoid outdoor activities during evening hours, especially after a rain. Also, wearing light colored, tight-knit clothing is helpful.
For additional information on mosquito control, biology, and diseases they may transmit, see the NebGuide Residential Mosquito Control.