Coloradans appreciate getting outdoors, but summer brings pests like mosquitoes and ticks. These insects are annoying at best, but they can also spread disease. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notes that cases of West Nile Virus have occurred as early as May.
Design and maintenance professionals can help their clients limit exposure to these pests by designing landscapes that minimize breeding opportunities for pests, and regularly clearing clients’ properties of insect hot spots.
[Related: 5 landscape trends for 2019: NALP]
Eliminate areas where water can pool. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water, so any source of standing water is an opportunity for a mosquito habitat. Still pools or fountains, bird baths or uncovered rain barrels are all elements that could turn into mosquito habitats.
An often overlooked source of standing water is rain gutters, according to David Price, technical manager and associate certified entomologist at pest control provider Mosquito Joe.
“Keep gutters clean and free of debris so water doesn’t accumulate in the gutters,” Price said. “I think that’s one that most homeowners typically miss, and would be a good suggestion for folks who work outdoors and can see that,” he noted.
Regularly inspect irrigation systems for leaks. With the rise of smart controllers, some clients may have a set-it-and-forget-it mentality when it comes to their irrigation system. Flow meters and leak detectors can help identify areas where water could be pooling, especially in far-flung areas of a property that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic.
Keep grass and shrubs trimmed. Mosquitoes rest on the underside of leaves and ticks wait in high grass until they can attach to a passing human or animal, Price noted. It’s especially important to regularly mow and trim landscaping for clients whose properties abut forested areas or open space, he added.
“Keeping that grass cut down, that will stop the tick population from moving into the yard,” he said.
Educate clients on their role. It takes 10 to 14 days for a mosquito population to develop, so in between visits from their maintenance provider, homeowners need to be proactive about pest control. Remind clients to inspect rain barrel covers and tip over any planters or containers that collect water.
Apply barrier sprays and mists. If homeowners have properties where they can’t fully control the mosquito population, regular spraying and misting system may help create a pest-free area in their outdoor living areas.
Barrier sprays target common areas for mosquitoes and ticks with repellants that can keep bugs at bay for several weeks.
Repellant misters are similar to sprinkler systems, Price said, “except that the fan, as it disperses, is not as wide. It’s more of a mist, like what you would find in a nursery where they’re misting that water to cover the plants’ foliage.”
Mister heads are strategically placed to hit the underside of foliage where mosquitoes like to rest. “It’s going to be designed to where is the foliage and directed to the underside of that foliage, and that’s where the heads are going to be placed,” Price said.
Systems cost around $3,000 or $4,000 to install, he noted, so homeowners with large properties may decide to limit the misting system to areas where they entertain or relax outside instead of the whole yard.