It depends. If you’re concerned about getting sick with a mosquito-borne disease, ask yourself a few questions first.
- Are the mosquitoes in your area the same kind that carry diseases? For example, only two species (see photos) have been linked to Zika virus outbreaks. Here is a rough map of their ranges in the United States based on suitable temperatures. Another map shows their presence by county using data collected by scientists.
- Is your community already controlling mosquitoes with a formal program? Click on your state to find out. You might even call the vector control agency in your area and ask what they recommend for mosquito control at home.
- Is it the right time of year? Mosquitoes need warm temperatures and water to thrive.
- After spraying, what about the eggs and larvae that will emerge as adults in the next few weeks?
- Are there some actions you can take to change the environment, making it hard for mosquitoes to live and breed in your yard or neighborhood?
With new mosquito diseases like Chikungunya and the Zika virus, more companies are offering mosquito control services. Pesticide applications offer no guarantees. Many of the pesticides available for residential use may not last for long. Mosquitoes that fly into your yard a few days after the treatment may be unaffected. Automatic misting systems may carry additional risks.
The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus can only fly short distances. From the pool of water where they grew up, they typically fly less than a quarter of a mile. Below are some tips to reduce mosquito populations in and around your yard.
- Find and remove any puddles of water or standing water around your home to reduce breeding sites. Most mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Think about tires, birdbaths, Frisbees, and other containers.
- Maintain your swimming pool to prevent mosquito breeding, and report abandoned pools to your local health department.
- If you have a rainwater barrel, a rainwater harvesting system, or like to keep a pond or birdbath, consider methods to kill mosquito larvae, such as implementing a management program or using larvicides.
- Consider adding native fish to your pond. Ask a local mosquito expert what they recommend. You might try your local vector control district or University Extension.
- There are biological and chemical options to control mosquito larvae. These methods range from applying bacteria, insect growth regulators, insecticides, or oily substances to the water.
Ways to lower your risk
If you choose to use a pesticide product for mosquitoes in your area, read and follow the label directions closely. The following options may reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.
- Remove sensitive items from the application area, such as toys, pet dishes, etc.
- Cover items such as outdoor furniture, play structures, pet living or sleeping areas, vegetable gardens, and edible herbs.
- If the application will be near the house, close doors and windows, and turn off AC units.
- Don't spray when it's too windy or the product may drift away from the application site.
- Stay away from the treated area during application until the amount of time specified on the label, or until it is completely dry. Shaded areas may take longer to dry.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.