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System Design For Balancing Mosquitoes

 
Posts: 129
Location: Elgin, IL
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The mosquito population here in my part of Illinois certainly isn't ridiculous like some other places, but more often then not they simply feel out of balance.

In your opinion, what are some fundamental, core designs on creating landscapes that address the issue of mosquitoes? Typically, a conversation about natural mosquito control revolves around mosquito dunks, herbal repellents, and mosquito netting, but I'd like to talk about the core issues that can cause mosquito imbalance.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1099
Location: Victoria BC
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Well, in the spirit of the classic 'you haven't got a surplus of slugs, but a shortage of ducks'... You haven't got a mosquito imbalance, but a predator shortage!

I think in my case it's a dragonfly/spider shortage caused by my embarrassment of lizards. (https://permies.com/t/47305/predators/European-Wall-Lizard-friend-foe#377413)
I'm hoping to address this by increasing habitat for bats and swallows. I'm also contemplating some modifications to our concrete reservoir to improve it's value as dragonfly nymph habitat.

When you say 'fundamental, core designs on creating landscapes that address the issue of mosquitoes', the obvious answer IMO is to minimize breeding sites, by eliminating still/stagnant water or attempting to boost the population of aquatic predators like fish or tadpoles. Of course these will also eat the dragonfly nymphs, so. Eliminating exposed water entirely strikes me as rather drastic and impractical.

My favorite short-term mosquito deterrent is a fan pointed at me; they are poor flyers and a 5KM/H breeze is too much for them to overcome.
 
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Eliminating exposed water entirely strikes me as rather drastic and impractical.



I'm struck by how often advice to suburbanites on mosquito control focuses on spraying and elimination of all standing water. Whereas in our world, we want standing water in our gardens especially because it is desired by birds (who will eat insects) and by beneficial insects (who will eat more insects).

This came into sharp focus for me last year when I started growing water chestnuts. Obviously I needed standing water without chemicals to grow them in. But you know what? I had happy frogs in every one of my water chestnut tubs, and I never saw a mosquito wiggler.

This year I am experimenting with a small water feature in my garden just for the birds and bugs. It has tadpoles in it right now (that I introduced when I saw mosquito wrigglers) and the wrigglers are gone. There's a pot of scouring rushes (horsetail) in the middle that fall and dip into the water. I'm hoping all the stems/water interface will give me some extra dragonfly breeding space. We will see!
 
Alex Veidel
Posts: 129
Location: Elgin, IL
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I totally agree about the water. I'm not about to run around a make sure there's no standing water sitting around after a rain. That's not "how I roll" and I don't have control over anything except my own yard (for example: there's a pond next door and neighbors often have ditches with stagnant water built up after heavy rain). After all, it's not the hard work but the maintenance afterwards that'll kill ya
 
pollinator
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I interviewed Dr. Elaine Ingham about a month ago and found out something about controlling mosquitos that I'd never come across or heard before. She was telling me that you can spray compost tea.

The entire explanation is in the video.
Dr. Elaine Ingham on controlling mosquitos with compost tea

Has anyone tried this?
 
Alex Veidel
Posts: 129
Location: Elgin, IL
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Whoa, really? I'm gonna have to check that out.....I'm already an avid compost tea brewer
 
Posts: 99
Location: zone 6a, north america
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Sheri, thanks for sharing those videos.
that Bush Library one was really interesting.

did she happen to say roughly the amount of tea per volume of water by chance?
 
gardener
Posts: 950
Location: Ohio, USA
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Alex,

That's my problem too in Northern Ohio. I'm told, especially this year because of all the rain and cold. Predator population is about null here. No frogs, toads, lizards, chickens, dragon flies, praying mantises, damsel flies, or little fish. There are some birds that fly by, but they are diurnal and mosquitoes are crepuscular (mostly). Maybe there's a bat or two, but nothing note worthy. Lots of standing water and shade though (which they love).

My method of attack was to make a fish pond. Since the mosquitoes already are breeding - I'm not going to out compete the climate - I decided that I wanted to make a huge, beautiful, useful mosquito trap. I was too late to order dragon fly nymphs or eggs online. I want to do that next year though. I also want to buy some praying mantis and damsel fly eggs too, if I can. I'm on the hunt for tadpoles right now. Pond circulation helps eliminate mosquitoes too - they don't like it. I put fish in the water, but the temperature is too high for carp feeders. I've lost a bunch and now have to go to plan B. The clean water has attracted the attention of just about every bit of wildlife in the city. Which, I don't mind being I'm trying to encourage more life. It has unfortunately led to the nipping of 1/2 the leaves on any fruit tree, but again-that's a lack of predator issue that will be corrected with a doggy door and fence.

I'm not saying I found a tried and true method, I'm just going off IPM theory.

Truth is, if you ever go to Yellowstone National Park, which one would assume to be one of the most balanced ecosystems in the country, you'll note the huge number of mosquitoes. Perhaps there was a control program in the past? Still, you'd think the ecosystem would have recovered. Too many tourists? Then there should be more mosquito predators to compensate. So, I'm not sure what the "natural" and "healthy" population of mosquitoes is supposed to look like. I do know though, that I don't like them and I want the tip the system in my favor, if at all possible.
 
Posts: 696
Location: Porter, Indiana
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Amit Enventres wrote:Truth is, if you ever go to Yellowstone National Park, which one would assume to be one of the most balanced ecosystems in the country, you'll note the huge number of mosquitoes. Perhaps there was a control program in the past? Still, you'd think the ecosystem would have recovered. Too many tourists? Then there should be more mosquito predators to compensate. So, I'm not sure what the "natural" and "healthy" population of mosquitoes is supposed to look like. I do know though, that I don't like them and I want the tip the system in my favor, if at all possible.



That was my experience too, the worst mosquitoes I ever had the misfortune of dealing with were with were in Denali national park far from where the tourists regularly go and an area with minimal human disturbance.

Perhaps we should accept that it is "natural" for an animal that can lay 3,000-10,000 eggs per female, and can reach maturity in a week, to have ridiculous population booms when the conditions are right. Out a my orchard, I've taken to just wearing long sleeve shirts and a mosquito veil.
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 156
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siu-yu man wrote:Sheri, thanks for sharing those videos.
that Bush Library one was really interesting.

did she happen to say roughly the amount of tea per volume of water by chance?



No, she didn't say.

 
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
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Just wanted to share my experience.

I have ever-slow-flowing creek on my plot, that's where I think mosquitoes bread, and I can't help that. But I noticed they seem to emerge from tall grass (which was ranging from knee to waist level without mowing.)
After I started trimming the grass to 3 inches, it became much better. They still bother me in the dusk, and it's better not to approach the creek at that time (and of course I did not mow the very creek bank,) but at least they are not eating me alive when I am 100 feet away.
Reduced the number of ticks, too.

I liked the idea of introducing more predators (there are already a lot of swallows, and a few bats,) but still, in a balanced ecosystem involving humans and mosquitoes we are supposed to be the source of food, I am afraid.
 
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