This winter was so dry, scientists said California’s chance of having a “normal water year” was down to nearly 30 percent. Then we experienced Miracle March 2018, and even more rain has continued off and on. Now there are plenty of places where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. That’s why it’s time to take action to prevent mosquitoes, so they can’t come back to bite us later.
Step One: Check Your Yard
Mosquitoes need water and with 23 different species of mosquitoes in Contra Costa County alone, there are many places where they can lay their eggs. When the weather warms, those eggs can develop into adult mosquitoes in as little as five days. Now is the time to check your yard for water that has collected in things like:
- Children’s Toys left outdoors
- Flower Pot Saucers
- Automobile Tires
- Bicycle Tires
Yes, even bicycle tires. Rain water can seep inside discarded tires that are left outside and mosquitoes are sneaky enough to fly into the tires’ narrow openings and lay eggs.
Step Two: Dump Out Standing Water
Once you find those cans, buckets, even bicycle tires that have unexpectedly collected water, dump that water out. For discarded bicycle tires in particular, water can be challenging to remove. It’s best to store bicycle tires in a garage or shed, to prevent the daunting task of trying to siphon out water.
Step Three: Identify Permanent Water Sources
Now that you’ve dumped out all of the containers that caught rainwater, the next step is to take a look at your yard and identify any permanent sources of water including:
- Swimming Pools
- Hot Tubs
- Decorative Ponds
- Large Fountains
- Horse Troughs
Most of these water features can be free of mosquitoes as long as they are chlorinated and filtered regularly–something that is often possible for a swimming pool or spa, but potentially less likely for other water features such as ponds, fountains or horse troughs. In cases of inoperable or unmaintained swimming pools or hot tubs, and other sedentary water features, the District provides free mosquitofish for use in residential water features.
Step Four: Pick up Mosquitofish from the District
Mosquitofish are a natural predator of young mosquitoes that are developing in water. Each hardy fish may eat hundreds of young mosquito larvae per day, and so they are an efficient natural way to fight mosquitoes and prevent them from growing into adult mosquitoes capable of biting and spreading disease.
The District provides mosquitofish to Contra Costa County residents free of charge. The program is so popular, we are already seeing a 30 percent increase in the number of residents who’ve come to pick up fish this April compared to last April, but don’t worry, we won’t run out. We raise the fish right here at the District.
Before you leave home, measure the surface dimensions of your water feature, so that you know how many of the surface-feeding fish to take home. Then, when you visit the District during regular business hours, all you need to bring is the measurement. We supply the fish, instructions and a coffee can to transport them home. Speaking of coffee cans, we can always use more. Drop empty coffee cans off at the District on weekdays.
The key is to take these four important steps now–look for items holding water, dump out standing water, identify permanent water sources and, if necessary, pick up mosquitofish–to prevent mosquitoes and the risk that they can hurt you and potentially make you sick later.