Mosquito Alert!

When I first put together the water barrel fountain, I called the Santa Clara Vector Control District for help. At that time, they still had staff that came to your house and did a backyard inspection, and they gave me some good advice and left some mosquito fish. Now, I'm sorry to say, they no longer come though they have a lot of information on their website.

I then bought a 50 cent gold fish and added it to the water barrel, and while the mosquito fish seem to come and go (maybe they go to the bottom in winter), I can often see the gold fish cruising somewhere when I walk past the barrel. Still, I was surprised to find it really close to the surface a few days ago, Looked almost as if it wanted a breath of fresh air.

Very odd, I thought. And I didn't completely understand what was going on until I came to the sandy bird bath and saw small wriggly black creatures in there. I had assumed that because the birds stir up the water frequently, mosquito larvae would not be a problem. But I realized that many of the birds had flown back home, and others had found other pleasant places to bathe. And I suspected the fish might also have been eating the larvae that accumulated at the top of the barrel (or maybe not, but it's a cool photo, isn't it?).

So I went to the shed and got my shaker of Mosquito Bits. I actually don't even remember where I bought them, but do remember that the vector control guys told me not to use the donut-shaped mosquito dunks, which were not very effective. They endorsed the bits as effective and non-toxic to birds and other creatures.

It took just one shake, and about an hour, for the problem to be solved. I was greatly relieved. On the one hand, I like to offer bugs to the birds who visit my garden. But with West Nile disease and some other mosquito-based illnesses prevalent around here, this seemed the prudent way to go. And, also kind: Birds get West Nile before humans do.

So, dear friends, take stroll around your garden and check for mosquito breeding areas. It's good for you, and for the birds.


Christine said…
Ick! A good reminder. I would have thought the birds would take care of it, too but always a good idea to check it out!
You don't have problems with raccoons eating the fish?
Town Mouse said…
Christine, the barrel is too narrow and too deep. The racoons can't reach and are afraid to fall in, I think. They did make a horrible mess of the water plants for a while, but I think my neighbors called someone who disposed of the resident family.
It is a good reminder TM. Especially with this lovely spell of warm sunny weather. I've already found mosquito larvae in a wheelbarrow that had standing water in it, and took care of it of course.

We had mosquito fish in our pond at our last house. Just as I would think they hadn't survived winter, voila, they'd show up again. I think they just need the water to warm up a bit before they break their torpor. We also found that deep, straight-sided ponds the foiled raccoons too. Neighbors with more naturalistic gently sloping pond edges lost a lot of fish, but we never did.
Country Mouse said…
I have a bad habit of leaving plastic paint buckets lying about (for weed collection) and I have to go tipping them all out after the rains. And yes - it IS a very cool picture of the goldfish surfacing!
Gail said…
Thanks for the reminder...I'll start looking for breeding places. Mosquitoes are a huge problem in my garden~I've yet to be able to discover all the hidden water pools. We have tiger mosquitoes in the south and the horrid creatures can breed in the tiniest bit of water. gail
Randy Emmitt said…
Town Mouse,

I got bit today at the back side of the pond where the wind was still. Not to worry with a 60 ft pond your going to have mosquitoes. I did see Bullfrogs with ever step around the pond, a first for this year. The Spring peepers have quite the concert goig right now it is raining. Chorus Frogs were calling before it rained. And there were 3 painted turtles on a log today.
Kimberly said…
EEWWWW!!!! I don't like mosquitoes! I read somewhere that they are actually the deadliest animal on earth due to the disease they carry. I'm glad you solved your problem!
wiseacre said…
My pond is larvae free. Frozen solid still.
Do you know any bats--they love mosquitoes! And I think I've finally stumbled upon an advantage, gardening-wise, to living in a cold climate--we don't have mosquitoes yet!!!! :)
Town Mouse said…
Actually, we have mosquitoes only in spring, and not too many. It's just too dry for them. But when we have them, West Nile is very much a danger, so I like to prepare.
I thought it was early for mosquitoes, but I've seen the little wrigglers in the water trays of my bog plants. The plants are touchy as to chemicals, so I just drained out the infested water and replaced with new. I'm hoping that letting the tray go dry for a day or two should help control the bugs. Fortunately we don't have any other standing water, even with all our rain.