Water gardens make a great addition to any backyard by offering a relaxing place to sit back and bond with nature. However, many people are worried about building their own water garden because of their concern it could become a breeding ground for mosquitos, who in addition to being a stinging nuisance, can carry and transmit diseases like the West Nile virus. Fortunately, once you understand a little more about mosquitos there are a number of ways you can control them so you can safely enjoy your own water garden.
A little background on mosquitos
- Mosquitos lay their eggs in water, but the water must be still and even better, stagnant. This is because newly hatched mosquitos, need to rest on the water surface before they can fly away. So, if the water is moving, females won't lay their eggs there.
- As little as a tablespoon of still water is all a colony of mosquitos need to lay eggs and reproduce.
- Although it may not seem like it,there are actually numerous natural insect and animal predators that live on mosquito larvae and will control mosquito populations.
Controlling mosquitos in and around your water feature
- Since mosquitos need very little water, it's important you eliminate any of their potential breeding grounds. Discarded pots, old tires,bird baths or even a tarp with a depression in it can all hold more than enough water for mosquitos to thrive in so your first step is to make they are emptied.
- Install a small pump to recirculate and ensure the water in your water feature is moving. It doesn't take much surface movement to discourage females from laying their eggs in your pond. If you don't want to go to the expense of install a pump, you can even use a hose to move the surface water and spray around the edges once a week since it takes seven days for mosquito larvae to hatch.
- Add some fish to your pond. Many types of fish such as goldfish, guppies and pup fish (killifish.) will eat mosquito larvae.
- Dragon fly larvae (also called nymphs) eat mosquito larvae as a staple of their diet, so adding some to your pond will virtually eliminate the mosquitos. Even better, dragon fly nymphs stay in the larvae stage of their life for up to two years and will continue to eat mosquito larvae all that time. Dragon fly larvae are sometimes available at bait stores or you can gather some yourself by dragging a small mesh insect net through still water pools in nearby streams.
- Toads are another way to naturally control mosquitos if you can attract them to your garden. A single toad will consume hundreds of mosquitos in one night and their tadpoles will feed on mosquito larvae as well.
- Adding Bti (a bacteria that occurs naturally in soil and is harmless to fish, birds, mammals, and insects other than mosquitos and black flies) to your pond will kill mosquito larvae after they eat it. Bti is available under various brand names including Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks.
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Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer whose work has appeared on numerous web sites, as well as in newspapers and books in both the US and Canada. He has been quoted as an expert on home related topics in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal.