Pest mosquitoes love standing water and warm weather

Managing standing water near your home and business can help control mosquitoes that transmit disease. Keeping your lawn cut can reduce tick populations.

With Michigan’s warmer weather, comes the insects. Some of those insects really bug us and become quite a pest to humans and animals alike. Biting insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks require a blood meal to provide the proteins necessary for reproduction. A few species of mosquitos and ticks can also be carriers or vectors for disease.

In the spring, there is usually an abundance of rain and standing water, while the weather is warming, providing a great number of places for mosquitoes to reproduce. Some species of mosquitoes require large areas of floodwaters for adequate growth. Others can get by with the brackish standing water of a storm drain, an old tire or a forgotten bait container. The container mosquito, is most likely to harbor diseases. Additionally, it’s expected that climate change will also effect vector-borne diseases by changing season and location distribution of the carrier insects.

Some of these changes include earlier spring starts and longer summers. This means that insect vectors can reproduce sooner and hang around longer. Hanging around longer in the season means a greater chance for human exposure. Some mosquito-borne diseases to worry about are West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis and Eastern equine encephalitis. The only cases of Zika found in Michigan residents were from those who traveled elsewhere and brought it back with them.

Tick-borne diseases of concern in Michigan are Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis - the black legged (Deer) tick carries both. The best management technique for controlling these insects, is environmental controls.

Michigan has five major classes of pest mosquitoes separated by their larval habitat. Eliminating areas of standing water, container water and the like are the easiest approaches to controlling mosquitoes. Where water cannot be drained, treatments can be used. The most common is the use Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) especially by municipalities for use in their storm drains. Seek out places of standing water and remove them or treat them for mosquito control.

For ticks, keep your lawn cut, clear the edges of tall weeds and wood debris, and check yourself and your pets every time you head back indoors. Wear a repellent when you go outdoors.

For more information about water quality and aquatic invasive species, contact Beth Clawson, Michigan State University Extension educator. To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants, contact MSU Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through the “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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