Want a Swat-Free Summer?

As reported by a study from the Office of the Texas State Climatologist at Texas A&M University, “Texans should expect warmer weather, more wildfires, and urban flooding, and increased impact from hurricanes through 2036.” This warmer, wetter weather is sure to bring us many problems, one of which is a dramatic increase in mosquitoes. Our fellow Texans can relate to the annual mosquito season battles in the summertime, and the idea of these issues becoming any worse is enough to make someone hysterical. However, using our services here at Mosquito Joe we can eliminate these issues for you before summer even arrives, with no contracts!

We offer a range of service options here at Mosquito Joe to treat these populations – the most popular being our barrier treatment. The barrier service covers your entire yard (or the backyard only if that is your preference) out to a foliage barrier/fence and is done on a three-week cycle.

boy pouring bucket of waterTo control mosquito populations before they arrive, our technicians spend time during this service walking your property to treat and eliminate any standing water on your land. This water can be held on the property itself in your gutters, objects in the yard, or holding in drains. Water is where mosquitoes breed by the millions, within a month- one teaspoon of water can hold up to 300 mosquito eggs. Finding the sources of mosquito issues (potential or current) is imperative to controlling the population. The second part of our barrier service involves treating the foliage on the property – trees, bushes, flowerbeds, or any leafy, cool places that a mosquito might hide. While mosquito populations thrive in warm, wet weather, they tend to spend more time in shady areas and are very bad flyers – requiring foliage to rest on in order to make it across the yard. For this reason, we treat the foliage (top AND bottom of the leaves) with our synthetic product, eliminating mosquitoes as they hide or make their way towards you. Our technicians treat any flowering plants, vegetable gardens, or fruit trees with our organic garlic product. Unlike our synthetic product, the all-natural garlic works by driving mosquitoes away due to their sensitive sense of smell. The products we use are similar to nail polish in the way they work – the products take about thirty minutes to dry down on the foliage in the yard, and during this time we like to have all people and dogs inside. After the thirty minutes are up, everyone is free to be outside, turn on sprinklers, get in the pool, etc! The products won’t wash away and instead, they break down over the 3 weeks.

Fighting the mosquito population in someone’s yard is an uphill battle since mosquitoes are able tomosquito on the human skin breed so quickly. In our first service, we set the expectation of a 75% reduction in mosquitoes, 85% after a second service, getting you at our ultimate goal of a 95% reduction in your mosquito population after your third service! The products we use have an outdoor life of three weeks and tend to break down in the heat and sunlight, so Mosquito Joe comes out to treat every three weeks to maintain the barrier in your yard. We can guarantee our service for our customers who stick with our service every three weeks and we work with no contracts, so you can choose to pause/end service when you would like! Our customers are never tied into service with us. Mosquito Joe also offers two entirely all-natural options for customers that are interested and these last two and three weeks depending on which you choose. We also install and maintain misting systems, which you can read more about in our past blog! If you have issues with other pests: chiggers, ants, fleas, and ticks – you can also call Mosquito Joe for a hand with these issues as well!

outside family dinnerAs most Texans can attest, summertime is no fun when you can’t even enjoy being outdoors. Mosquitoes may have ruined the fun for you and your family in the past, but this summer we encourage you to take the time to protect your yard from these mosquitoes before summer begins! While mosquitoes do not have a ‘hibernation’ season in Texas due to consistently warm weather, mosquitoes tend to make their big leap in March and April, or May (if you’re lucky!). Get a free quote with us here at Mosquito Joe and start your service before then and make your outside fun again!

 

Back

How to Prevent Mosquitoes at Home

It’s January so why on earth are we writing about this? Well in Texas mosquitoes don’t exactly hibernate like they do in other areas of the United States. Temperatures need to stay under 55 degrees for 5 days in a row, or we need to have 3 deep freezes in a row, for hibernation to occur. As you may have guessed, that happens rarely in this part of the world, and when it does it is almost always immediately followed by a rise in temperatures that takes them right back out of hibernation.

It’s often a mistake to think, “oh the temperatures have dropped; I don’t need to worry.” Think of the folks in Alaska – they deal with incredibly low temperatures every year and have one of the worst mosquito problems in the summer. Even if we have unexpected low temperatures, it doesn’t mean anything in terms of our population the following spring (or in our case a week later typically.)

mosquito on skinWhat drives the population in your yard is the potential for egg-laying areas. If you have few moist or wet zones, mosquitoes will be much less likely to lay eggs. Granted it won’t stop mosquitoes from coming in to visit you from a neighbor, for that you need Mosquito Joe to help. But getting rid of those egg-laying zones on your property will have a HUGE impact on the population at home. So, what do you need to do?

We always tell our customers to, “think like a mosquito.” It’s no good walking around your yard without this in mind – it’s a bit like childproofing yourraking leaves home without thinking like a child. A mosquito wants to lay her eggs in stagnant water, or in damp soil that is protected from the sun. She is smart enough to know if a dry area has a tendency to hold moisture, even if the ground is bone dry when she is hunting for a place to lay eggs. You have to think this way as well when you walk the yard.

Here is what you need to look for:

  • Piles of fallen leaves or pine needles: It’s a pain and we all hate to do it but raking the yard and keeping the ground clear of all the leaf litter is green leafimportant. The ground covered in leaves stays damp and is protected from the sun. It’s an ideal place for mosquitoes to lay eggs, so rake, rake and rake some more!

 
 

  • Gutters: keep them clear of leaves and debris. It soon turns to sludge and blocks your gutters, puddlecreating stagnant pools of water. Even if you have gutter covers don’t be fooled into thinking your gutters won’t cause issues! The same leaves can decompose on top of the covers, causing the sludge to fall through into the gutter and producing the same effect. Running a hose through your gutters once you’ve cleaned them up is the best way to ensure there are no blockages.

 

  • Pot saucers, plant pots, wheelbarrows, toys, etc. You will be amazedred tricycle at how much water a kid’s toy can hold, and any small saucer has the potential to create quite the population for you. 1 teaspoon of water makes for 300 eggs! Remove all the water and then remove the object as well: store your saucers and pots upside down, preferably in a shed or indoor location.

 

     

    • Store wheelbarrows on their sides and be aware that you are looking for a teaspoon or more– so fence posts without caps, a frisbee, dog bowls, wheel barrelumbrella stands – the list is endless and you will be surprised at the amount of water you find. If you are not spending much time outdoors this time of year, store these items inside away from mosquito visits.

 

  • Tarps and other covers are also pretty sneaky when it comes to collecting rainwater. Pool covers can be a nightmare too – mosquitoes won’t visit chlorinated water, but the water on the top ofpool ladder the cover is a different story.

 
 
 
 
 

  • Drill holes at the bottom of your trash cans and tire swings etc. If water gets in them, you’ll want to find a way to get it to flow back out. It’s a simple job that can make a world of difference.

 

  • Finally, consider your drainage both above ground and below. If you have a French drain that backs up, remember that you will likely have stagnant water under the ground that you can’t see. The more you control and manage any drainage issues in the yard the better off you will be.

Mosquito Joe will remove and treat all your standing water at each visit. We do this because the majority of mosquito issues stem from these areas. You can help yourself a lot by taking the time to manage all these areas and by keeping on top of falling leaves, etc. The more you do this month the happier you will be, come summer!

Back

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Me So Much?

mosquito on handNine times out of ten, when we get a call from a potential client, the person on the other end of the line gets bitten far more than their spouse. Occasionally we have a customer call to hold service for the winter, just to have their other half call back and start service back again. In fact, we have a few customers who have asked us to ignore their spouse if they call to hold service because “he/she doesn’t get bitten like I do.” So why is this the case?

Female mosquitoes bite us because they need the blood meal in order to lay their eggs. But why do they have a preference, or do they really have one? As we’ve talked about in previous blogs, mosquitoes find us based on several factors. Initially, they seek our CO2 plumes through their olfactory receptors. As they get closer to us, they rely on scent and vision and seek out colors and odors. When they are really close, they use body heat to find the right spot to bite.
 

CO2:mosquito on skin

One of the drivers to getting bitten more is being easier to find and that has a lot to do with your CO2 output. The higher your metabolic rate, the higher your CO2 output is. Pregnant women, folks who are fit or work out a lot, and conversely people who have been drinking alcohol or who are overweight and expending more energy to move, all breathe out more CO2 making them easier to find.
 

young woman runningScent:

Mosquitoes have a specialized receptor that enables then to smell lactic acid. While some folks tend to have more lactic acid than others, the more you sweat the more lactic acid you release. Mosquitoes are also drawn to other scents and body odors that result from what you eat or what you have been doing. 99% of us start sweating the moment we step outside in Texas. The smell of sweat is attractive to a mosquito – so don’t forget the deodorant! Perfumes and colognes are also a draw, so if you plan on spending time outdoors the focus should be on minimizing odors. If you are super sweaty and you opt to add a hefty dose of perfume or cologne to cover it up, you have just created quite the olfactory soup for the mosquito. Stick with as little odor as possible.
 

Colors:

Some research though not definitive yet has shown that dark colors are more of a draw for a mosquito. Remember, mosquitoes don’t see well so for them contrast is important. If you wear a black shirt and sit on a white bench you have just made yourself really easy to find.
 

Blood type & genetics:mosquito bite

One thing we cannot control is our blood type, but it is worth mentioning although research has yet to determine why this is. Mosquitoes appear to be more attracted to O type blood than others. In fact, mosquitoes landed on type O people 83% of the time, compared with 46.5% of A-type (Journal of Medical Entomology) in one study. You may also find that a relative is more attractive to mosquitoes, and thus you are as well thanks to genetics. Skin bacteria and microbes are also thought to play a role, which may also fall into the category of genetics. The “busier” your skin is the more attractive.

There is a lot we don’t know yet about what mosquitoes perceive as attractive, or what scents help them find us. You can help yourself by wearing light clothing and minimizing odors when you are outside as well as choosing your tie of day wisely. Mosquitoes are sun phobic creatures, so avoiding dawn and dusk and heading outside when the sun is high may be ridiculous in Texas, but it will help you avoid those bites. Of course, you can also just call us, and then you can head out whenever you want.

Back

How Mosquito Repellents Work

How mosquitoes find us:

Before we can understand how mosquito repellants work, we need to understand how mosquitoes find us in the first place.  Unfortunately for us, mosquitoes have evolved 3 ways of seeking out a meal. Each of these methods, used in tandem, enables them to fly in for the bite.

  1. 33 – 99 feet: At this distance mosquitoes rely on their sense of smell, specifically the CO2 plumes we, or other animals, emit.  Experiments have shown that the female mosquito only pays attention to the next cue once the first is present and they are closer to the source.
  2. 15 – 33 feet: The mosquito has homed in on the scent and at this distance is now searching for visual clues to spot you.  They are seeking the source of the CO2, not for a shape or body. 
  3. 1 – 3 feet:  The mosquitoes now rely on thermal sensory input to locate heat and moisture sources.  This prevents them from wasting time on objects such as a rock or vegetation.  

Mosquito repellents are designed to block the mosquito’s sense of smell in stage one.  This is important as it means that someone standing next to you, without repellent, will be attracting mosquitoes.  Of course, once the insect is within 33 feet of you, it now will not distinguish between you and your un-protected friend, meaning you are equally as likely to be bitten as they are.  We often hear people tell us that mosquito repellents don’t work. This is not necessarily true and is more a factor of those around you, as well as how well the repellent has “stuck”.  For example, if you are out in the yard with your spouse, and they just happen to sweat a lot, the repellent may have run off them. Hence, they are the magnet bringing them in to bite you.

What repellents do:

So how do repellents work?  DEET was developed by the military over 50 years ago but it was only more recently that studies have been done to understand exactly what it does.  Mosquitoes smell with their antennae, which are covered in olfactory nerves. The nerves are essentially equipped with odor receptors, that bind to odor molecules and trigger neural activity.  Simply put, DEET binds to these receptors leaving the mosquito confused and unable to smell you. The DEET over-activates the receptors rendering their ability to smell useless. 

According to many studies, the only repellent that comes close to the ability of DEET is lemon eucalyptus oil with the caveat that natural products break down faster and thus must be applied more regularly.  It should not be applied in its pure form and is also not recommended for children under the age of 3. Do not confuse it with the essential oil of lemon eucalyptus either (easy to do). Lemon eucalyptus oil has a different mode of action, simply creating a powerful smell to override that of CO2.  

The market is saturated with alleged mosquito repellents.  Wearables have become popular, although scientific studies show they are not capable of repelling mosquitoes.  Many people prefer to stay away from DEET and make natural repellents. We wrote a blog about DIY repellants recently and you can check out more here. However, they have not been proven to be effective in the fight against mosquito bites.  Folks also like to burn citronella candles and burn tiki torches, but these again will only confuse and delay you being found. 

It’s not enough to wear repellent in your own yard.  The most effective way to avoid or reduce the bites in your own yard is to remove all stagnant water sources from it.  Remember, one small capful of water is enough for 300 eggs. The more water you remove the better you will be. Of course, calling us to manage that water and treat your yard is the best way we know to make your outside fun.  Then you can ditch the repellant and just enjoy.

Back

What is a Mosquito Misting System

Controlling mosquitos in your property is based very much in science.  However, choosing from the many mosquito control options and applying them can be somewhat of an art.  Mosquito Barrier Treatments are custom applications, performed by a licensed pest control technician, that conform to the intricacies of each individual property.  They take into consideration the mosquito pressure from outside of the property, breeding areas within the property, and vegetation and landscaping in and around the property; all with consideration of the areas of human activity where the mosquitoes need to be controlled. 

Some properties seem to be better suited for Mosquito Misting Systems.  It is estimated that about 5% of the properties in the NW Houston and S Brazos Valley area may actually get better mosquito control from one of these systems.  Many of these properties have smaller back yards with little or no barrier to adjacent properties by either vegetation or privacy fencing.  A good example is a golf course property, where there is nothing between the vast expanse of the course and the home.  

Like the Mosquito Barrier Treatments, installing a Mosquito Misting System is an art.  There has to be consideration for future vegetation growth, prevailing winds, times and areas of human activity, and locations of areas of high mosquito pressure.  These systems are a much more permanent option so carful design is a must.  Once the system is installed there have to be decisions on misting times and durations, to provide the greatest impact to the mosquito population with as little pesticide use as possible.  It is recommended that a licensed pest control technician design, install, maintain, and fill your mosquito misting system.  

What is a Mosquito Misting System?

 Simply it is a device that stores a product used to control mosquitoes.  It has a pump that is controlled by a timer.  At preset times of the day, a diluted solution of the pesticide is pumped through small tubing to areas within a property and dispersed through misting nozzles creating a very fine mist. This mist lands on areas where mosquitoes live, killing adult mosquitoes.  These systems can also be designed and installed to control spiders around the eaves of your home.  

I have a Mosquito Misting System and I’m still getting bit.  Why?

 Mosquito Misting Systems have to be maintained.  Clogged nozzles and dirty filters can cause your system to not work at peak performance.  A regular maintenance schedule is a must.  Also, if you’ve added landscaping or your landscaping has matured since the system was installed, it may need an upgrade.  Sometimes this can be as simple as adding tubing and nozzles to areas that are lacking in coverage.  Occasionally, a property can benefit from using a different product in the tank. Mosquito Joe can provide maintenance and expand your system, even if we didn’t install it. 

There are times when some larger properties will benefit from regular Barrier Treatments that can treat areas outside of where the misting system is.  This combination treatment can certainly take care of those pesky mosquitoes and allows us to control your biggest source; standing water.

Should I have a Mosquito Misting System installed or have Mosquito Barrier Treatments?

The only way to know is to have a Licensed Pest Control company evaluate your property.  Mosquito Joe provides Mosquito Barrier Treatments and installs and maintains Mosquito Misting Systems and can evaluate any property as well as give the pros and cons of both.

Which option is more expensive?

That’s a tough question.  There are so many variables involved that there is not one answer that fits every property.  

A misting system has a greater up-front cost.  Typical systems for smaller properties average from $2200 to $2800 to install.  Fills and maintenance make up the ongoing cost and generally occur every couple of months depending on the number of nozzles, number of mist cycles a day, and the length of each mist cycle.  Mosquito Barrier Treatments are a service and require no up-front costs.  Treatments are applied every 3 weeks (2 weeks for botanical and all-natural services) by a pest control technician, and include larvicide application in standing water, organic applications to flowering plants and vegetable gardens, and a barrier spray to all foliage.  Mosquito Joe will always provide a free quote for either and can help you decide what is the best option for your property.

 

Back