For some parts of New Zealand, spending time outdoors can be difficult in the summer months for one main reason: Mosquitoes. These blood sucking insects can turn an enjoyable evening in your backyard into a dash to the back door to get inside and away from their hypodermic mouth parts. Here is some information about mosquitoes and some simple ways to prevent or reduce mosquitoes around your property.
Mosquitoes are insects, and there are over 3,000 species of them worldwide. Only 16 species are active in New Zealand; 12 native and 4 introduced. Most of the 12 native species feed on birds, but a few and three of the introduced species bite humans.
Mosquitoes are small, have six legs, and one pair of wings. They often appear grey or brown, but colour can vary. Their most defining feature is their proboscis (hypodermic-like mouth). It is made up of six needle-like mouthparts that make it easier for the mosquito to pierce skin and find blood vessels in order to suck blood.
Only female mosquitoes suck blood. Male and female mosquitoes both eat nectar, but females need blood in order to produce eggs. After feeding, a female mosquito will take up to several days to digest the blood meal before looking for an area of standing water where she can lay her eggs. They can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. These will hatch into larvae that stay in the water until they become adults. In warm weather conditions, this takes about two weeks.
Why Are Mosquitoes on My Property?
There are several reasons why you might find mosquitoes on your property. Mosquitoes can travel several miles from their breeding site, which means that in a mosquito prone area and during mosquito season, there are likely to be some mosquitoes around.
Mosquitoes will be found where there are areas of standing water. Female mosquitoes require standing water to lay eggs, so if you remove places where standing water collects you will have fewer mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes also prefer areas that have high humidity. Warm, moist conditions are a mosquito’s ideal environment. That makes northern parts of New Zealand more suitable for mosquitoes in the Spring, Summer, and into the Autumn.
Mosquitoes also prefer places with plenty of foliage where they can hide and rest during the hottest parts of the day. If your property has overgrown shrubbery or bushes, un-mowed grass, or a lot of trees, you are more likely to have a mosquito problem.
Are Mosquitoes Dangerous?
The short answer is yes, they are…….in many parts of the world. Malaria is the illness spread by mosquitoes that causes the most deaths each year. However, in New Zealand, they are not known to have transmitted human diseases from a local source.
How to Reduce Mosquitoes Around Your Property?
Remove Standing Water - This is the most effective DIY method for reducing mosquitoes around your property. Take a walk around your property and look for buckets, children’s toys, loose pool covers, shallow areas in your driveway or lawn, clogged rain gutters, pet dishes, or other areas where water collects in your landscaping, and other places with standing water. Remove or eliminate as many as you can.
Eliminate Excess Moisture – It is also helpful to get rid of garden damp areas with as they will encourage mosquitoes (as well as other pests), and they could turn into areas of standing water if the drainage is not improved. Pay careful attention to shaded places that do not dry out in the sun.
Cut Back Foliage - Cutting back the foliage around your house has a couple of benefits when it comes to reducing mosquitoes around your property: it allows the sun to reach more areas of your garden, which helps reduce humidity and you reduce foliage where adult mosquitoes can rest during the day. Trim bushes and shrubbery, especially close to your house or in the areas where you spend most of your time outdoors. Make sure to keep your lawn grass trimmed as well.
Use Insect Repellent - Use an insect repellent on exposed skin, or if you are not comfortable spraying it on your skin, you can spray it on your clothes instead.
Set Out Fans – When sitting outside a fan or two in the area can help because mosquitoes are not strong fliers and strong air currents will disturb their flight and deter them from the area.
Surface Insecticide and Space Repellent - Follow a three-step mosquito control program. Spray NO Bugs Super on surfaces around the areas where mosquitoes are causing problems, i.e. decks, walls, indoors and outdoors. And indoors use the NO Mosquitoes Repeller, Insect Guard Mosquito Repeller or Insect Guard Fly Control System.