Few things are as disastrous to a nice evening relaxing outside your home or a weekend barbeque as a swarm of mosquitoes designating you as the open bar of the day. Irritating bites, multiple diseases mosquitoes carry, and just the aggravation of hearing the little buggers buzzing by your head is enough to force most people inside their homes, forgetting the beauty our island has to offer.
No one wants mosquitoes in Honolulu ruining their time outdoors, which is why we've prepared this handy guide to help minimize your exposure to mosquitoes around your property as much as possible.
Why Should I Be Worried About Mosquitoes Around My Honolulu Property?
As tiny as they are, mosquitos are by far the most dangerous animal in the world. Diseases they spread kill millions of people every year and infect many more. While not all species of mosquitoes carry diseases, the ones that do can be a serious danger to your health.
Among the diseases spread by mosquitoes are:
- West Nile virus
- Dengue fever
Recently it has been discovered that mosquitoes are starting to spread the Zika virus as well.
Mosquitoes are a very common insect found on every continent, with more than 3500 species cataloged so far. Male mosquitoes subside on nectar and honeydew, but females need the nutrients the blood provides to produce eggs. Only a few species of mosquitoes feed on blood, and out of those, only females bite people.
Most mosquitoes don't spread diseases when they feed, but the few that do inject saliva into the wound, which contains the vectors of the diseases they transfer. The saliva also contains a natural anesthetic and anticoagulant to prevent blood from thickening, which also prevents you from feeling the bite and instinctively crushing the insect.
Mosquitoes prey on humans and animals, using carbon dioxide, heat, and scent to locate their prey. When we exhale, we leave a pattern of carbon dioxide that mosquitoes can detect from up to 150 feet away. Once closer, they use their sight and heat sensors to locate and bite their prey.
Once a mosquito gets her to fill with blood, she lays eggs either directly in standing water or in an area she expects to fill with water in the near future. The eggs hatch and larvae emerge. The larvae live in water and feed on microorganisms in the water while growing into pupae. After four days to two weeks, mosquitoes emerge from pupal cases and start looking for suitable blood donors.
Hawaii didn't use to have mosquitoes until humans settled it, but now its residents suffer from seven different species.
Two of those types of mosquito only feed on plants, so we'll concentrate on the five species that present a danger to us humans:
- Asian Tiger Mosquitos are small, averaging 1/8 inch in size, with white bodies lined with black stripes. You can easily distinguish Asian tiger mosquitoes from the other species by a single silver stripe running down their backs.
- Yellow Fever Mosquitoes are between 2/8 and 4/8 inches long with a black body and white patterns. You can distinguish yellow fever mosquitos by lyre-shaped white markings on their thorax.
- Southern House Mosquitoes are 1/8 to 3/8 inches in size with a brown body and darker, almost black proboscis, thorax, and wings. In our subtropical climate, this species is active all through the day.
- Culex mosquitoes are between 1/4 and 3/8 inches long with grey, silver, or blue bodies and darker-colored proboscis and legs. Culex, or as they're commonly known, house mosquitoes, is the most widespread species in the United States and most active at dawn and dusk.
- Asian bush mosquitoes are medium-sized mosquitoes, averaging around 1/8 inch long. They are brown in color and can be identified by the black and white scales on the sides of their thoraxes and the black and white bands on their legs. They are a relatively recent import from Asia but are spreading fast thanks to their adaptability to more severe environments than most other mosquito species can't survive.
Mosquitoes in Hawaii's ecosystem serve multiple important purposes besides ruining barbeques and annoying us with their incessant buzzing. Male mosquitoes are the main pollinators for thousands of species of plants, and both sexes are an important part of the food chain. Mosquito larvae are one of the main food sources for a variety of fish, and birds and bats feed on adult insects.
But when it comes to the human/mosquitoes relationship, there is really not much good to say about the little buzzing bloodsuckers, so let's take a look at ways to keep mosquitoes away from your yard, how to get rid of mosquitoes, and if the DIY approach fails, where to find reliable to land you a hand showing them the door.
When Are Mosquitoes Most Active?
For a lot of places around the country, mosquitoes are a seasonal pest, giving homeowners a break for at least a few months out of a year. In beautiful Hawaii, the warm climate we come to enjoy also keeps mosquitoes a threat all twelve months of the year. Mosquitoes are the most active when the weather stays warmer than 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and that means we're not likely to get any breaks all year long here on the big island.
During the day, mosquitoes have to stay out of direct sunlight to avoid dehydration, so you're usually not seeing many of them out. However, were you to step into the shade or long grass, you'll be swarmed with double the normal amount. Most mosquito species that feed on humans are most active during dawn and dusk when the sun is not bright enough to threaten them, but with a little cloud cover on their side, they'll be able to annoy us all day long.
What Factors Attract Mosquitoes?
Like all other pests, mosquitoes are motivated by three primary needs: easily accessible and plentiful food for themselves and their offspring, a comfortable environment to spend time in, and an area protected from predators.
With us being their food source (at least for the adult females), as long as we are around, female mosquitoes have something to snack on, but without flowering plants in the vicinity, males will not have any nectar to eat and will not survive.
The second requirement is a place to lay eggs and have offspring develop without losing too many to the weather and predators. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in or around standing water, so as long as there is even a quarter-inch-deep puddle in the corner of your property, mosquitoes can survive and propagate.
The third requirement is outnumbering predator consumption by enough numbers to develop a new propagating generation. A single sparrow can eat more than 300 mosquitoes a day, and for certain species of fish (smallmouth bass, for example), mosquito larvae are a major food source.
Any turbulence on the water's surface will drown mosquito pupae and stop the infestation in its tracks. Cold temperatures, dropping below 50 degrees, will leave female mosquitoes too lethargic to lay eggs and soon kill off the juveniles and destroy the eggs themselves.
Six Tips For Preventing Mosquito Bites
Once mosquitoes establish inroads into your property, their numbers increase fast, and the chances of you enjoying your backyard drop in proportion to their growing numbers.
Let's take a look at what you can do to preventing mosquitoes in Honolulu from setting camp on your property:
- Remove any standing shallow water on your property. If your property has a pond, introduce fish into it or add a fountain water feature to keep the surface disturbed.
- Get rid of excess vegetation, tall grass, and overgrown shady areas mosquitoes can hide in during the day.
- Try not to spend time outdoors during dusk and dawn to avoid offering yourself as a meal to mosquitoes, especially if your blood type is O or you are pregnant.
- Wear long pants and sleeves after dark or in the shade, don't wear sweet-smelling perfumes while outside, and avoid darker colors in your clothing.
- Avoid outdoor exercise around dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are attracted to the high content of carbon dioxide in the air, the odor of perspiration, and high moisture levels, so exercising or exerting yourself in some other way will attract mosquitoes to you.
- Avoid consuming alcohol outdoors. Consuming alcohol raises your body temperature and attracts mosquitoes.
If you have been bitten by mosquitoes, avoid scratching the area since that will only introduce infection. Wash it with warm wpreveater and soap, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling, and take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication.
The Best Mosquito Control Solution In Honolulu
Preventing mosquitoes from overtaking your property is not an easy task and requires yearly treatment to remove areas they can breed and keep down access to mosquito food sources.
At Pest Tech Hawaii, our technicians have over 130 years of combined commercial and residential pest control experience. We are locally owned and operated and offer a full range of professional extermination and remediation services ready to meet the unique requirements of our island's environment.
Our experienced technicians will start with inspecting your property to determine where mosquito breeding grounds are and make sure you're not going to deal with another generation after treatment. Once that's remedied, they'll treat your property to get rid of mosquitoes on your property and help you develop a strategy to keep them from coming back.
If you're struggling with mosquitoes on your Honolulu property, give us a call to schedule a free inspection and to learn more about our residential pest control services in Honolulu.
As a Realtor with At Home Hawaii, I work with Pest Tech on a regular basis. The quotes are always competitive and the people we've been working with have been great. I highly recommend Pest Tech.