Spring rains and warmer weather usually spell mosquitoes. To prove this to myself, I’ve been watching my backyard fountain slowly fill with recent rains, leaves and catkins from nearby oak trees. Last week I was rewarded(!?) with my first mosquito wigglers. “Wiggler” and “tumbler” are informal terms for the larval and pupal (immature) life stages of mosquitoes. Mosquito wigglers live in water, and as soon as temperatures get warm enough to drive their development, they quickly mature and emerge from pools and containers wherever they may be found.
After last summer’s record West Nile virus season, any news about mosquitoes is bad news to us in Texas, and especially the Dallas area. But the species emerging right now are not likely to be the disease-carriers of last summer. According to Scott Sawlis of the Dallas County Health Department, these are more likely to be Culex restuans, or one of the other early mosquito species that do better in cool weather. These cool weather species do not spread West Nile virus. Nevertheless, these mosquitoes still bite and are still unwelcome in our neighborhoods.
My backyard observation site gave me the chance to photograph and put together a short video about what to look for if you see a suspicious puddle of water around your yard. In my case, after following the wigglers for a few days, I drained my fountain. Should you find a suspected breeding hole, if possible drain it, or fill it in with sand, gravel or soil. This will immediately kill any mosquito larvae breeding there. If the source is too deep or impossible to drain, mosquito dunks or granules, available through most hardware stores and garden centers, will also kill mosquito larvae for up to 30 days.
We’d all rather get rid of mosquitoes before they become a problem. So get outdoors now and check your yard. This is a great time to mosquito proof your yard in preparation for the summer. For more information about where mosquitoes breed, and what to do about them see http://mosquitosafari.tamu.edu.