Summer Mosquito Prevention in the Bay Area

by James Florence


Standing water provides an ideal environment for mosquito larvae to mature. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ©1976

During the first half of 2019, we received a great deal of rain in the San Francisco Bay Area. What’s more, the rainy season went on longer than expected, with storms hitting as late as mid-May. Despite bringing relief to a long-standing drought, all this extra rainfall has certain consequences, one of which may be a particularly bad mosquito season. Since mosquitoes can breed in as little as a tablespoon of standing water, the moister-than-average conditions could mean a spike in mosquito populations this summer.

To curb mosquito propagation, as well as protect yourself and your family from this summertime scourge, take the following measures:
  • Eliminate all standing water on your property. Empty buckets, garbage cans, gutters, flower pots, bottles, saucers, toys and other items that may have collected water during the recent storms. This is the single most effective action you can take to keep mosquitoes under control on your property.
  • Add mosquito dunks to rain barrels and other areas of standing water that you’re reluctant to drain. Mosquito dunks contain Bti, a natural mosquito larvicide that kills mosquito larvae but is harmless to birds, fish, wildlife and pets.
  • If you own a pond, introduce some mosquitofish, whose diet includes mosquito larvae.
  • Replace bulbs in outdoor lighting fixtures with “bug lights,” which emit a light wavelength that’s less attractive to mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Plant lemongrass outside your home—it contains citronella, a well-known mosquito repellent.
  • Install CO2 mosquito traps, which attract mosquitoes from as far away as 100 feet in order to kill them. Keep in mind that CO2 mosquito traps are best used on properties of one or more acres.
  • Make sure your home’s doors and windows are covered with screens to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Protect infants by draping cribs and strollers with mosquito netting products.
  • Apply mosquito repellent before going outside. The best repellents use DEET or picaridin as the active ingredient.
  • Avoid going outside at times when mosquitoes are most active—namely dawn and two hours after sunset.

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