The Dangers of Spraying Your Yard for Mosquitoes
What to think about when considering mosquito control options for your home...
As the summer draws near and you begin looking forward to spending more time outdoors, you may be wondering how best to protect you and your family from the increasing threat of mosquitoes. With human populations on the rise and instances of mosquito-borne illnesses right along with it, the interest in mosquito protection has never been greater. In just 2018, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) documented 2,544 case of West Nile Virus alone, 137 of which resulted in death. In 2015 and 2016, transmission of Zika virus became alarmingly frequent in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, eventually extending into portions of Texas and Florida. So the threat from mosquitoes is real, and we should each be interested in doing our part to minimize the risk of exposure.
But what really is the best way to do our part? Should we take it up ourselves to spray our own yard for mosquitoes? Should we hire a professional mosquito company? Should we get a mosquito misting system, or a mosquito trapping system, or a mosquito magnet, or something else altogether? For most of us, we feel like we should probably do something, but with all the different mosquito control options out there, determining what that something should be may not be so readily apparent. Each of the mentioned mosquito treatment options is designed to do something similar: reduce populations of adult mosquitoes in a targeted environment. And to that purpose, each of them can prove to be successful. The question becomes, however, to what extent will any reduction of mosquitoes actually make a noticeable difference, and will those mosquito treatment efforts really bring down the risk of exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses?
Is mosquito spraying dangerous?
It can be, but it shouldn't be. Any type of pesticide application, even those made with all-natural or organic products, brings with it certain inherent risks. In most instances, those risks are mitigated (often even eliminated) when used by a properly trained and equipped professional familiar with the product being used. Mosquito sprays are commonly done using backpack or handheld mosquito misters or foggers, which often cause a higher concentration of pesticide to become airborne than with surface or ground sprays for ants or other insects. The nature of these applications creates some additional risk of exposure through drift, where the pesticide gets carried by wind currents into non-target areas or towards non-target organisms. So mosquito spraying is serious business, and should be taken seriously. You should only consider spraying your own yard for mosquitoes if you've got the necessary training, equipment, and information to be able to make safe and proper mosquito applications.
Before spraying for mosquitoes...
Explore other non-spray options for reducing mosquito populations around your yard. By doing the following 3 things, your mosquito populations are almost certain to be reduced even without incorporating any mosquito sprays:
- Eliminate any standing water. When it comes to mosquitoes, standing water on your property is your biggest enemy. Mosquitoes need water to breed, and without it they will be forced into other areas away from your yard. Anything with the capacity to retain 2 inches of water or more should be removed or eliminated, if possible.
- Eliminate mosquito harborage areas. Mosquitoes typically congregate in areas of dense foliage or other shady areas. Eliminate as much unnecessary foliage as possible to make your yard undesirable for mosquitoes.
- Treat remaining areas with a mosquito larvicide. Any areas or items with the capacity to retain 2 inches of water or more that cannot be eliminated can be treated with a mosquito larvicide that will prevent the water collecting in those areas from being suitable for mosquito breeding.
Is it better to hire a professional mosquito company to spray?
Generally speaking, it is almost always SAFER for you, your family, your neighbors, your pets, and for other non-target organisms to hire a professional mosquito control company to spray your yard than to attempt to do your own spraying. Professional companies have the proper application and safety equipment to make effective, safe applications and are able to offer professional recommendations that may be unique to your particular yard. Our Mosquito Exterminator Search Tool can help you find a licensed mosquito professional in your area. If you do choose to do your own mosquito spraying, always follow the product label instructions.