The Environmental Impact of Mosquito ControlReading time: 7 minutes
Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance – they pose a serious health hazard to humans, especially when poorly controlled in a town or city. Unfortunately, the same chemical extermination methods that eliminate mosquitoes and help prevent serious mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus and malaria can be detrimental to the surrounding environment.
Good mosquito control involves balancing and effectively reducing mosquito populations and protecting the local ecosystem. As a homeowner (or someone who spends time outside), you’re likely curious about the negative impact of some mosquito control methods. In this blog, we’re explaining why it’s important to consider the environmental impact of mosquito pest control and how you can protect your home, yard, and surrounding wildlife habitats with Buzz Boss.
How Chemical Mosquito Extermination Harms the Ecosystem
While most mosquito control methods have good intentions to eliminate mosquitoes that harm humans, some common pesticides can have a number of side effects on the environment. These side effects can cause harm to the area and potentially risk the health of animals and other plants on your property.
Soil and Water Contamination
Many traditional pesticides that are effective at controlling mosquitoes can harm nearby animal wildlife and even pets and humans. This happens in a few different ways:
- Aerosol sprays can be spread to non-target areas if applied when it’s windy.
- Pesticides applied right before or after a rain can contaminate stormwater runoff.
- Improper disposal of mosquito repellents may pollute surrounding soil and groundwater.
- Fumigant pesticides can leach into the soil and increase nitrous oxide production.
Harmful Effects to Local Wildlife
Chemical mosquito repellents can also harm local wildlife when applied or disposed of. Not only can animals like squirrels, birds, and other native creatures be acutely poisoned by pesticides, but these chemicals can build up in their bodies in small amounts over time. This could, in turn, negatively impact the larger animals who prey on them.
In most cases, pesticides don't exterminate mosquitoes completely. They eliminate most of them, so you can be more comfortable and less at risk when spending time outside.
However, the mosquitoes and larvae that are left after a chemical treatment may develop a resistance to frequently used pesticides. Over time, this leads to the need for stronger, more toxic solutions, which can cause the problem to become much worse and damage the environment even further.
Managing Mosquito’s with Biological Control Techniques
Biological mosquito control methods utilize several different strategies to reduce mosquito populations without causing harm to the surrounding environment. Trained exterminators understand the mosquito life cycle and how to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, like:
Surveillance and Disease Testing
Reasonable mosquito control starts with adequate surveillance and disease testing. Pest control experts will begin by monitoring a mosquito population throughout an entire lifecycle so they can test to determine the species of mosquitoes and any diseases they may be carrying.
Once technicians have this information, they can develop targeted control strategies tailored to the specific infestation they’re treating. They can also test mosquitoes regularly for resistance to identify any methods that are no longer working. This makes the range of integrated control strategies more effective at keeping mosquito populations below a tolerable level.
Good wastewater management is critical for controlling mosquito populations in communities. Cities that must address standing water at the municipal level can make it harder for homeowners to manage mosquitoes in their yards and around their homes.
Some good best practices to reduce the attractiveness of mosquito habitats include:
- Ensuring adequate storm drainage – Rainwater shouldn’t be able to collect in yards or on sidewalks and roadways that can attract mosquitoes to lay eggs.
- Getting rid of brush – Cities should keep areas clean from brush and dead leaves that can pile up and collect enough moisture for mosquitoes to breed.
- Positioning outdoor objects so they don't hold water – City officials and business owners in the area should work together to make sure awnings, pool covers, table umbrellas, furniture, and other outdoor objects can't collect water.
- Increasing natural predators – Neighborhoods with habitats attractive to the mosquito’s natural predators, like bats and birdhouses, can naturally decrease mosquitoes and prevent them from getting out of control.
Source reduction is one of the most effective ways to control mosquito populations outdoors. Instead of spraying pesticides that only work to kill adult mosquitoes and pose a risk to the environment, source reduction involves using tactics that reduce and eliminate infestations at the larval stage. These strategies include:
In 1977, it was discovered that a normally-occurring soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis was incredibly effective at killing mosquito larvae without harming beneficial species. This quickly became available in various application methods, including granules, liquids, and time-release products that you can “set and forget.”
The mosquito fish, or Gambusia affinis, has a large appetite for mosquito larvae and can be introduced into ponds, drainage canals, and freshwater pools to control surrounding mosquito populations. One female can eat hundreds of larvae daily, making them an incredibly effective option for standing water outside that can’t be removed.
Methoprene is an insect growth regulator that interferes with mosquitoes' or other insect's central nervous system and prevents them from reaching maturity. This solution can be applied to areas where bacterial larvicides and mosquito fish aren’t well suited.
Treatment is most effective when applied to multiple mosquito habitats throughout a municipality at one time. Not only is methoprene effective against mosquitoes, but it can also interrupt the life cycle of beetles or horn flies.
The Benefits of Non-Toxic Mosquito Control Methods
There are many benefits of using safer methods for removing mosquitoes, not just for you but for your neighbourhood, community, and other nearby ecosystems. Some of these advantages include:
- Fewer allergic reactions and adverse side effects.
- Protection of beneficial pollinators and natural pest predators.
- Reduced risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
- Long-term efficacy without building resistance in local populations.
Communities that use non-toxic, biologically safe pest control methods can create a reputation for environmental responsibility and improve residents' quality of life. When homeowners participate, too, more people can enjoy a mosquito-free outdoors without the hassle and annoyance of having to reapply repellents.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eco-Friendly Mosquito Control
What time of year is the worst for mosquitos in Western Canada?
According to the Government of Canada, mosquito season is generally between May and September. It’s a good idea to begin treating mosquitoes in April, well before they arrive. You can also continue into the middle of October to ensure that mosquito populations are as low as possible heading into the winter.
How long does it take mosquitoes to hatch?
Mosquitoes only need 10 days to grow from an egg to a biting adult. This incredibly fast reproduction makes it harder to control mosquito populations since the number of mosquitoes laying eggs and hatching eggs increases exponentially each day.
Is eco-friendly mosquito control effective?
It’s a common misconception that environmentally-safe mosquito repellents are less effective than their chemical counterparts. However, this isn’t exactly true.
Eco-friendly pest control methods often involve more than one strategy, meaning applying a repellent is just one part of the overall treatment plan. Natural pest control methods are incredibly safe and effective when all these elements work together.
Is it better to kill mosquitoes as adults or larvae?
Mosquito control is more effective at the larval stage before insects become biting and disease-carrying adults.
Larvae are the most vulnerable to various reduction and extermination methods since an egg casing doesn’t protect them, nor can they fly away. Once they become pupae, they are harder to eliminate since this is when mosquitoes aren’t eating, and traditional pesticides are the least effective.
This is what makes IPM strategies so effective. Surveillance programs can indicate when an infestation has reached the larval stage, and reduction methods can quickly be deployed to eradicate large numbers of larvae before they can reach adulthood.
Prevent Mosquitos and Protect the Environment with Buzz Boss
The safest and most effective way to get rid of mosquitoes on your property is with the help of a qualified pest control professional. Working with a pest control specialist lets you confidently treat your property for mosquito infestations and know your home or business will be protected.
Buzz Boss uses only environmentally sound products to effectively treat pests and give you peace of mind that your property and family are safe.
Contact us today to schedule mosquito control you can count on!