Alert: Mitigate Mosquitos

Seven Ways to Discourage Mosquito Breeding in Your Garden

 

September 19, 2019 (Updated February 15, 2020). By Oscar Ortega and Joe Duran: Mosquitos adore the heat of late summer in LA, but their garden party starts as soon as water reconstitutes their dried eggs, and they are more than happy to bring that party inside when it suits them.
 
While mosquito parties once meant merely inconvenience and itchiness, mosquitos new to LA present new health dangers to us. Invasive mosquito bites now carry the potential to bring serious diseases, including the Zica and West Nile Viruses, St. Louis encephalitis, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Canine Heartworm.
 
Prevention is essential. Once mosquito eggs exist, they can persevere through less ideal conditions. The eggs of the new-to-LA Aedes Mosquito, for example, can sit dormant in dry conditions for at least a year. Once water is reintroduced the eggs are “reconstituted” and hatch.
 
 

 
 
There are seven ways we can all pitch in to make our gardens less appealing to the worst mosquitos. Most involve consistent monitoring and maintenance.
 

1. Maintain

You and your maintenance team can do quite a bit to make your garden a less hospitable vacation spot and hatchery. There are a few easy starting points:

  1. Limit watering: Most people water too much, even for turf lawns and high-water plants. Dialing it back improves garden health even as it prevents the standing water that inspires mosquito breeding.
  2. Clear waterways: Litter can easily clog waterways. Regular inspection of dry rivers, rain gardens, gutters, etc. ensures water isn’t trapped or standing. This will also enhance slope stability and prevent other stormwater-related issues.
  3. Clean/Empty saucers: Even an ounce of water in a container garden saucer can attract mosquitos. Watch these collection points, empty, scrub and dry them.
  4. Close rain barrel taps:  Once your barrel is empty, scrub it out, actively dry it, close the barrel tap, and inspect the screen’s integrity. An “empty” rain barrel may still have enough moisture to call to mosquitos! An open tap or tiny gap in the screen will allow mosquitos to enter and lay eggs in the bottom of the barrel. The eggs will patiently wait for the water they need to grow.

 
If you are completing these tasks yourself, here is a useful tool for remembering key steps:
 

 

2. Renovate

Beyond maintenance, there are also a few renovations that can make your garden less likely to attract mosquitos. They include:

  1. Smart Irrigation: Because it delivers water directly to plant roots, smart irrigation reduces the opportunity for standing water. It is also the best way to support native foliage.
  2. Native Plants: While no known plant wards off mosquitos, native plants need less water and do well on subsurface drip irrigation.
  3. Permeable Hardscapes: Walks, drives and patios of permeable materials allow water to seep into the ground. This may help reduce standing water, particularly after stormwater events.

 

3. Report

Know our Vector Control District. If there are areas in your community beyond your garden that appear to be mosquito breeding grounds, please take the time to report them.