Night of the Bloodsuckers (Part 1)

Mosquitoes are real party poopers. Just when you are relaxing with a cool drink after a hard day at work, the bloodsuckers arrive and ruin everything. There are over 300 species of mosquitoes in Australia and they occur wherever there is enough standing water for their larvae to survive. Sometimes that’s not a lot of water either. For example, mosquitoes can breed in saucers and trays under pot plants if they remain full of water.

Many gardeners have installed rainwater tanks to supplement their watering needs. All that water is a magnet to mosquitoes. Keep them out by covering all entry points in tanks with fine mesh. If mosquitoes slip through and lay eggs, drop a teaspoon of domestic kerosene on top of the water to prevent mosquito larvae from breathing (seek further advice from your State Health Department).

Some mosquito species are more than just annoying, they can carry serious human diseases such as Dengue Fever, encephalitis and Ross River virus, and heartworm disease in dogs. Fortunately malaria is no longer endemic in Australia, but we do have the Anopheles mosquitoes which are capable of carrying and transmitting malaria.

Mosquito

Female mosquitoes suck blood to gain protein for egg development. Sorry folks, they don’t do it just to drive us crazy. Male mosquitoes feed on sugary fluids such as nectar. Some people are not affected by mosquito bites, but for other people mosquito bites mean red itchy lumps causing sleepless nights. When a mosquito stabs her needle-like mouthparts into your skin she injects saliva containing anticoagulants to stop the blood from clotting while she is sucking it up. It is through their saliva that some mosquito species transmit diseases into people.

It is unlikely you will ever completely eradicate mosquitoes from your garden, but there are some things you can do to reduce their numbers significantly. The first thing you should do is remove all mosquito breeding sites. If you like to use pot plant trays, empty them regularly or put sand or small pebbles in them. If you have a pond, stock it with native fish that eat mosquito larvae – not the exotic ‘mosquito fish’ Gambusia sp. which is a declared pest in some states. If you have bird baths change the water in them every day or two.

Mosquito larva

Find out what your local council is doing (some local governments spend a great deal of time and money on mosquito control). Get some local advice from them on what you can do in your specific situation. Working in tandem with your neighbours could reduce mosquito numbers even further.

Mosquitoes are just pests aren’t they? Find out in Night of the Bloodsuckers (Part 2).

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2 Replies to “Night of the Bloodsuckers (Part 1)”

  1. An informative post! We have a big problem with Mosquitoes in Houston Texas. I can deal with our hot humid summers but I hate the mosquitoes. We do all the things you are doing. We have found another way to keep them away that doesn’t involve pesticides. We use concentrated pure garlic oil, processed for this expressed purpose, and mix it with water in a backpack sprayer and spray under our house and on all the shrubs in the garden. The brand we like best and recommend to our customers is http://www.mosquitobarrier.com/
    Your garden smells like a good Italian meal for a couple of hours. It keeps mosquitoes away for up to a week unless we have a hard rain.

    • Many insects are sensitive to pure garlic oil. Take care that you aren’t hitting beneficial insects when applying the spray in the garden. Great tip though!