Australia expects a long and hot summer. Recent forest fires have been devastating for communities and wildlife. Drought is also affecting many regions.
Understandably, people want to leave water for birds and thirsty animals.
Health authorities generally warn against the collection and storage of water in the backyards as a measure to protect against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases caused, for example, by dengue and Ross River viruses.
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But it is possible to leave water for wildlife, and save water for your garden, without providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes, if you take some precautions.
For some mosquitoes, any water will serve
Mosquitoes often look for wetlands and ponds to lay their eggs. But sometimes, anything that contains water (a bucket, a bird bath, a drain or a rainwater tank) will work.
When the immature stages of the mosquitoes leave those eggs, they get into the water for a week or so before flying away in search of blood.
While many mosquitoes are found in wetlands and scrubland areas, Aedes notoscriptus Y Culex quinquefasciatus They are the most commonly found mosquitoes in our backyards and have been shown to transmit pathogens that cause mosquito-borne diseases.
In central and northern Queensland, mosquitoes like Aedes aegypti It can bring more serious health threats, such as dengue, to some cities.
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Mosquitoes can also affect our quality of life through bites, as well as the hassle of simply buzzing over our bedrooms and backyards.
So how can you prevent mozzies from making a house in your backyard?
Empty the water containers once a week.
Mosquitoes need access to standing water for about a week. Reduce the amount of water-filled containers available or how long that water is available to mosquitoes.
Emptying a container full of water once a week will prevent immature mosquitoes from completing their development and emerging as adults.
If you leave water for pets or wildlife, use smaller containers that allow easy emptying once a week. You can pour the remaining water into the garden, since the mosquito larvae will not survive if they are “trapped” in the ground.
For larger or heavier items, such as bird baths, rinsing them once a week with the hose will eliminate most twists and stop mosquitoes that complete their life cycle.
Make sure the garden water does not spill
Be careful with pots with automatic irrigation. These often have a water tank at their base and, although it may seem like a smart idea, they can become small mozzie hotels!
A simple trick to keep water available for plants, but not for mosquitoes, is to fill plant saucers in pots with sand. The sand catches and stores some moisture, but there is no water for mosquitoes.
If you are collecting water from showers, baths or washing machines (commonly known as gray water), use it immediately in the garden, do not store it outside in buckets or other containers.
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Gutters, ponds, tanks and pools
Make sure gutters and roof drains are free of leaves and other debris that trap water and provide opportunities for mosquitoes.
Make sure that rainwater tanks (and other large water storage containers) are adequately protected to prevent mosquito access.
A well maintained pool will not be a source of mosquitoes. But if it is becoming “green”, due to negligence and not by intention, it can become a problem. Mosquitoes do not like the chlorine or salt treatments that are typically used for swimming pools, but when there is an accumulation of leaves and other debris, as well as algae, the mosquitoes will move.
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For backyard ponds, the introduction of native fish can help keep mosquito numbers low.
But if you want your pond to be a home for frogs, avoid fish, as tadpoles can eat. Instead, try to encourage other wild animals that can help keep mosquito numbers down by creating habitats for spiders and other predatory insects, reptiles, frogs, birds and bats.
Avoiding excessive use of insecticides around the backyard will also help encourage and protect that wildlife.
Mozzies can still come
Not much can be done regarding mosquitoes that fly from the back fences of local scrubland or wetland areas.
Mosquitoes are generally more active at dusk and dawn, so keep that in mind when planning outdoor time. But when mosquito populations are at their peak, they will be active almost all day.
Applying an insect repellent can be a safe and effective way to stop those bites.
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Covering yourself with long pants, long-sleeved shirt and shoes will provide a physical barrier for mosquitoes. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may even consider treating your clothes with insecticide to add a little more protection.
Make sure that mosquito nets are installed and in good condition in windows and doors. Outdoor mosquitoes can be bad; You don’t want them inside too.