Mosquitos are generally thought of as just a mere nuisance around ponds and lakes, but they are also carriers of disease. So much so, in fact, that they are largely considered the world’s deadliest animal, killing approximately a million people every year. With the recent appearance of West Nile Virus in Colorado there are a lot of questions about how to best protect yourself and your lake or pond. While there are chemical applications to combat mosquito overpopulation, they tend to have negative effects on other parts of the ecosystem. These should only be used as a last resort when local mosquitos are suspected of carrying disease and other mitigation techniques are ineffective. Here we will explore how natural predation, land and lake management, and natural attractants can be more effective solutions to making your pond a safer place to be where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.
There are many natural predators of mosquitoes; including native birds, insects, fish, reptiles, plants and mammals that may be inhabiting your pond or lake. However, there are other options of predators that you can add or attract to your pond ecosystem that will help reduce mosquito populations. Fish stocking, in addition to enhancing your pond’s recreational opportunities and ecological health, can effectively reduce mosquito populations through the consumption of mosquito larvae. Many fish are natural predators of mosquitoes. In fact the Gambusia, or Mosquitofish, can eat between 100-500 mosquito larvae each day, keeping population growth at bay. In addition, bats are among the best predators of mosquitoes. A single bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour. To attract bats to your property, simply place bat houses around your pond and, if placed correctly, these houses will typically be occupied within one year.
In order to reduce the breeding habitat for mosquitoes it is important to understand how mosquitos repopulate. Mosquito eggs are laid anywhere the mother can find stagnant water. The mosquito larvae begin to hatch at 48 hours and, depending on temperature, can reach maturity anywhere from four days to a month after hatching. It is important to identify and eliminate any sources of stagnant water, such as buckets, old tires or clogged gutters. Adding an aeration system, waterfall or fountain  to your pond or lake will keep water flowing and prevent mosquitoes from nesting at surface level, as well as improve the aesthetics. To prevent nesting, it is also a smart idea to clear excessive brush and debris that provide moisture and shade to adult mosquitos.
Lastly, insect traps and natural mosquito attractants can be very effective, especially when used on a regular basis. If you must resort to chemical applications, insecticides such as Micro-Lift and Mosquito Dunks are safe alternatives that will not harm the plants or fish in your pond. Keep in mind that a mosquito’s life cycle is only about 4 weeks, and they can start breeding after just 4 days. Because of this, no matter what mitigation techniques you choose, to sustainably reduce mosquito populations for the long term requires active management and diverse strategies.
Alaspa, Bryan. “10 Interesting Facts about Mosquitoes.” Ask Mr. Little, Ask Mr. Little, 26 Sept. 2017, www.westernexterminator.com/blog/10-interesting-facts-mosquitoes/.
Ladd, Brent, and Jane Frankenberger. “Management of Ponds, Wetlands, and Other Water Reservoirs to Minimize Mosquitoes.” Water Quality, Purdue Extension Water Quality Team, 6 Mar. 2018, engineering.purdue.edu/SafeWater/Ponds/WQ-41-W.pdf.
“Two Confirmed Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Colorado.” KUSA, KUSA, 7 Aug. 2018, www.9news.com/article/news/health/two-confirmed-human-cases-of-west-nile-virus-in-colorado/73-581187243.
“Warm Weather Mosquito Control.” LiveAquaria, LiveAquaria, www.liveaquaria.com/article/143/?aid=143.