Vector control is any method to limit or eradicate insects, birds, mammals and other creatures which transmit disease pathogens. The most frequent type of vector control is mosquito control.
Mosquito Life Stages
Mosquitoes have 4 stages in their life cycle. All of these stages except the adult stage require water to develop.
- Once deposited and exposed to water, mosquito eggs hatch into larvae in as few as 2-3 days.
- Larvae, or "wigglers," appear as small, slender creatures which dart about in the water. This stage can last from 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on the food sources and water temperature.
- Larvae then develop into pupae. Pupae, or "tumblers," look very much like small dark cocoons but are very mobile in the water.
- After a short time, usually about 2 days, the adult mosquito emerges from the pupae. After drying its wings, the adult is ready to fly off in search of food.
The life cycle of some mosquitoes can be completed in 10 days. Only the female mosquito bites and feeds on humans and animals. The female needs the protein from the blood to produce the eggs. One female can produce 100-200 eggs per blood meal.
Mosquito Breeding Sites
Different types of mosquitoes prefer to deposit their eggs in different habitats. Some species prefer woodland depressions or grassy shorelines. Others prefer to deposit their eggs in and around neighborhoods. These are called "container breeders." They deposit their eggs in any type of container that will hold water. One water-filled can or bottle can be the hatching site for several thousand mosquitoes.
Stop Raising Mosquitoes in Your Yard
Listed below are some helpful tips on how to reduce potential breeding sites in your yard.
- Install or repair and use window and door screens.Do not leave doors propped open.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
- For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
- Fill tree holes with sand or mortar so that water does not collect in them. These holes are a favorite breeding spot for the mosquito that carries LaCross encephalitis.
- Fill in holes or depressions in your yard where water tends to collect.
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and keep drains and gutters unclogged so that water does not collect in these areas.
- Keep weeds, vines, hedges and grass trimmed since mosquitoes use these shady areas as resting places during hot daylight hours.
- Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Hire a pest control expert to treat your yard and outdoor areas with long-lasting insecticide or larvicide to control mosquitoes up to several weeks.
Here's What You Can Do Inside Your Home
- Keep window and door screens in good repair.
- Use air conditioning when possible.
- Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like vases and flowerpot saucers.
- Kill mosquitoes inside your home. Use an indoor flying insect fogger* or indoor insect spray* to kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest. These products work immediately, but may need to be reapplied. Always follow label directions. Only using insecticide will not keep your home free of mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid places like under the sink, in closets, under furniture, or in the laundry room.
- Use an indoor fogger* or indoor insect spray* to reach and treat areas were mosquitos rest inside the home.
- Do-it-yourself products*:
Brand Name Examples**
How Long It Works
Indoor flying insect spray
Home Pest Insect Killer, Raid, Ortho, HotShot, Ecologic
Indoor flying insect fogger
Hot Shot, Raid, Real Kill, Spectracide
Up to 6 weeks
**Insecticide brand names are provided for your information only. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Alabama Department of Public Health cannot recommend or endorse any name brand products.
Prevention is the Key
Take an active role in reducing your exposure to mosquitoes. Reduce your chances of being bitten by wearing protective clothing and repellants.
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- ADPH Vector Control Guidance Before Mosquito Season
- CDC Guide: What You Need to Know About Using Larvicides
- CDC Guide: What You Need to Know About Using Adulticides
- Help Control Mosquitoes that Spread Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Viruses (7.4 MB) | en Español (6.8 MB)
- Prevent Mosquito Production in Your Septic Tank
- Video: Inside Huntsville Episode 52 Vector Control with host Brenda Martin and guest Cheryl Clay, Public Health Senior Environmentalist with Vector Control of the City of Huntsville
- CDC Resource: Estimated Geographic Range of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in the US
Page last updated: September 16, 2019