While the recent rains were a welcome sight in our area bringing a small amount of relief to our drought, they also have the potential to bring outbreaks of nuisance mosquitoes, especially the non-native yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that was found in Santa Barbara last year. “Mosquitoes need stagnant water for their development,” says Dr. Brian Cabrera, General Manager of the Mosquito and Vector Management District of Santa Barbara County. “Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on the water. Mosquito larvae hatch out of the eggs, grow and complete their development in the water and in a few days emerge from the water as adult mosquitoes,” he explains; “Reducing mosquito problems can be pretty straightforward and the math is very simple: No stagnant water = No mosquitoes.”
In order to “Fight the Bite”, residents are urged to check inside and outside where they live for stagnant water sources where mosquitoes can develop. It doesn’t take much for this to happen – Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can complete their development in the amount of water that fills a bottle cap.
Some of the common items and locations that hold stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed include buckets, clogged gutters, neglected bird baths, rain barrels, abandoned tires, saucers under potted plants, neglected pools, and even litter on the ground, such as discarded cups and plastic wrappers. Plants, especially bromeliads, or tree holes also can hold enough water for mosquitoes to develop in. “If it can hold water, it can be a potential breeding site,” says Dr. Cabrera.
A tell-tale sign of mosquito-infested water is the presence of dark, worm-like “wigglers”. These are actually the mosquito larvae which later develop into the pesky adult mosquitoes that nobody likes. Dumping and draining the water is enough to destroy the mosquito larvae – and this means they won’t grow up to bite you.