The pleasant spring and summer days are often the best time for people to enjoy the lakes and ponds in their communities. The fish are active, duck and ducklings are swimming, the plants are blooming, and the insects are buzzing. Wait, what?!
Some insects may be harmlessly buzzing, but the mosquitoes are likely biting. Lakes and ponds are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can be an issue for those who live or recreate near lakes and ponds. Not only will mosquitoes leave a bite that itches, but they can also cause water clarity and quality issues if uncontrolled.
It’s bad enough that their eggs hatch into larvae and turn into mosquitoes, the waste matter left behind by these hatching eggs can build up in ponds and contribute to more sludge and smelly odors as well as an increase in harmful substances such as nitrites and ammonia.
How to Control Mosquitoes
Getting rid of adult mosquitoes is pretty close to impossible. However, adult mosquitoes have a short lifespan, so the best way to reduce their population is to control the eggs and larvae before becoming adult pests. This is much easier and often more environmentally sound than trying to get rid of the adults. And there are many ways to do it without using chemicals that can harm the fish and other wildlife that inhabit lakes and ponds.
Why Are There So Many Mosquitoes Near Lakes & Ponds
Mosquitoes will be around lakes and ponds every year to some degree, it is a natural breeding ground for the buzzy little pests. They especially love stagnant, slow-moving water since fast running streams are not suitable for egg-laying. A pond that is isn’t well-cared for with little, or no aeration will have more mosquito issues than one that is highly aerated.
Increasing the water flow in lakes and ponds is a great natural method to keep the mosquito population to a minimum. Waterfalls, pumps, and fountains can all be used to aerate and move water, discouraging mosquitoes from laying their eggs. In addition, making sure the water quality is good will help deter mosquitoes.
Are Mosquitoes Harmful to Pond Fish and Wildlife?
Fish and wildlife such as frogs, bats, and birds feed on mosquitoes all season. Their larvae are a good source of nutrients, and many animals will happily help control the problem for you. In general, they are not harmful to fish and wildlife unless they affect the water quality of the lake or pond.
For instance, mosquitoes can carry bacteria, which can get into ponds and cause issues with the fish that live there. As their eggs hatch and decompose in the lake or pond, it can cause waste to build up and affect the water quality.
What Causes Mosquito Problems in Ponds
Fun fact: mosquitoes are picky about where they lay their eggs. It may seem like they will lay them anywhere, but this is not the case. Lakes and ponds are often not their preferred place to breed. When these bodies of water have mosquito eggs and larvae in them, it may be a sign of an underlying issue with the water quality. Here are some issues that can cause mosquito problems in ponds.
1) Lack of Aeration
Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in bodies of water that are stagnant or slow-moving. If a pond has no water features, pumps, or skimmers, mosquitoes will likely consider it the ideal place to lay their eggs. This goes for larger bodies of water with insufficient aeration if there are areas of water that are too far from the source of water movement.
2) Poor Water Quality
Excess nutrients, stagnant water, and substance imbalance can cause poor water quality and create conditions in which mosquito larvae thrive. Ensuring good water quality is not only good for the fish and wildlife in and around the water, but it also helps keep the mosquito population at bay. Testing the water a minimum of twice a year is best practice and gives you time to handle small problems before they become bigger ones.
3) No Natural Predators
Another reason why the mosquito population may increase is a decrease in the natural predators that usually keep them under control. Birds, bats, frogs, and dragonflies are all mosquito hunters, but sometimes environmental changes can reduce their populations or cause them to move to another area.
What about Chemical Insecticides/Larvicides?
Using chemicals such as insecticides and larvicides should be avoided as much as possible. They should never be used in ponds with fish. Insecticides are effective at killing mosquito larvae, but they also kill other insects such as dragonflies, water bugs, damselflies, and water striders. They do not recognize which bugs you may prefer to have around, such as dragonflies that eat adult mosquitoes.
These chemicals are also highly toxic to fish, including goldfish and koi, and most aquatic life as the chemicals easily penetrate the skin and quickly poison the fish. Frogs, newts, and other amphibians will quickly die off in lakes and ponds where chemical insecticides are added.
For this reason, we do not recommend using chemical treatments for mosquito control in almost all cases. And over time, larvae can build resistance to chemical insecticides, which doesn’t happen when natural methods are used. Chemicals are also dangerous to pets and people, so we suggest a range of natural methods to keep the mosquito population to a minimum.
How to Properly Control Mosquitoes in Florida
To help control mosquitoes around lakes and ponds, we suggest drastically reducing the environments they like to breed and live in. These preventive, proactive, and ecologically sustainable mosquito control methods can reduce the mosquitoes and keep fish, frogs, and other wildlife safe.
Improve Aeration and Water Flow
Although aeration and water flow doesn’t kill mosquitoes or their larvae, it can keep them from laying eggs in or around ponds or lakes. Water features such as fountains are some of the best aerators and also add to the appeal of the property. The water movement created by a fountain will help lower the chances of mosquitoes laying eggs because it is no longer a safe place for the eggs to develop.
There are many species of fish that feed on mosquito eggs and larvae. For instance, the Eastern Mosquitofish is a native Florida species and a relative of the guppy. They are tough, adaptable, and tolerant of many different water conditions. It is a small fish that lives on the surface of ponds and lakes and preys on mosquito larvae. In addition, the Eastern Mosquitofish has a high rate of reproduction that makes it an essential source of food for birds, larger fish, and other types of wildlife.
Install Bat Boxes
One bat can eat as many as 1,000 insects an hour, so imagine the amount of mosquitoes a huge bat colony could consume. For instance, one colony in Florida has been calculated to get rid of 50 tons of insects a year, including more than 15 tons of mosquitoes. When you take a minute to picture how many mosquitoes that would be, it is truly astounding. There are several bat species native to Florida for part or all of the year. They can easily be attracted by mounting bat boxes on outbuildings or poles in open areas.
Use Biological Larvicides
If the mosquito population around your lake or pond is out of control and the previous natural methods aren’t making any headway, there are biological larvicides that can be safely used. These larvicides consist of a commercial concentration of the bacteria Bacillus thringiensis israelensis (Bti). We recommend and use VectoBac, a naturally occurring, biodegradable biological product that has been certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). It is also registered for use by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The bacteria used in VectoBac can be found naturally in vegetation, soil, and aquatic habitats. It affects aquatic insect larvae but not the adult mosquitoes. In order to be effective, it should be applied on a regular schedule, anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on the conditions, throughout the spring and summer. This schedule helps combat new generations of mosquito larvae.
For professional natural mosquito control for commercial properties in Florida with lakes and ponds, contact Lake & Wetland today at (855) 888 – 5253 to contact us online for further information.