How to Control Mosquitoes on the Farm

by Caitlyn Andrews July 16, 2019

mosquito control for barns and farms

Mosquito season is here. We've had a wet spring and mosquitoes are thriving. And these pests are more than annoying.

They're a threat to farms everywhere. They carry disease. They annoy animals. They even affect your livestock operation's bottom line.

In this article, you'll learn about mosquitoes, the harm they cause, and ways to control them on your farm.

Harm caused by mosquitoes to livestock, horses, & small animals

Mosquitoes are notorious for carrying diseases that harm horses. But mosquitoes can harm other livestock, too.

Livestock

Blood loss and irritation caused by mosquitoes can have a direct impact on your farm's productivity.

Mosquitoes can cause weight loss and a decrease in milk production in cattle and goats. With swine, mosquitoes can cause skin lesions and allergic reactions. Sheep and other livestock can suffer from weight loss. Poultry can also be affected by mosquitoes with decreased egg production or even death.

decrease in milk production

Mosquitoes can have a negative impact on milk production for dairy farms.

Equine

Horses are known to contract diseases from mosquitoes that include Western, Eastern, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, as well as West Nile.

Many equine mosquito-born diseases can be prevented with vaccinations. However, many of these diseases are also lethal. Being proactive about mosquito control and vaccines will go a long way in protecting your horse from these deadly diseases.

Small animals

Rabbits can contract a fatal disease from mosquitoes called Myxomatosis. Myxomatosis is spread when a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected wild rabbit, then infects a domestic rabbit. It can also be spread via fleas or other contagious rabbits.

Dogs can contract a variety of parasites and viral or bacterial infections from mosquitoes. The most common being heart worm. Like horses, dogs can also get West Nile Virus.

Cats can also get heart worm and West Nile from mosquitoes. Barn cats and outdoor cats are more susceptible to mosquito-borne illnesses, so it's important to make sure they're on a preventative routine.

Quick facts about mosquitoes

Here are some "bite-sized" facts about mosquitoes:

  • The majority of mosquito species are vegetarian.
  • Only female mosquitoes take a blood meal. She does this when it's time to produce eggs. The male feeds on plant nectar.
  • Female mosquitoes lay eggs in or on the water. They can lay about 100 eggs at a time.
  • Larvae will only emerge from eggs once the water level rises enough to cover them.
  • Mosquito eggs can survive drying out for up to 8 months.
  • The entire life cycle of a mosquito (egg - larvae - pupa - adult) takes about 8 to 10 days.
  • Mosquitoes find their targets by sight, detecting infra-red radiation, and chemical signals.

mosquito control farms

Only female mosquitoes want your blood. Males eat plants.

How to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds

The best way to reduce the number of mosquitoes is to eliminate their breeding grounds. If you have standing water on your property then you have a potential mosquito nursery. Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in a spot where standing water sits for 3 - 10 days.

Use the tips below to eliminate potential spawning grounds:

  1. Eliminate standing water: Empty or remove containers that hold water - tires, birdbaths, lids, clogged gutters, planter trays, feed pans, water troughs, etc. Drain and refill water buckets and troughs frequently with fresh water. Put lids on water storage barrels. Repair road ruts and potholes that fill with water.cow water trough vegetation

    Empty and clean water troughs to avoid mosquito-friendly vegetation growth.

  2. Set traps: There are a variety of traps on the market to suit the needs of different properties. Traps typically involve an attractant to lure and either capture or kill female mosquitoes. If you purchase your traps, then check the label to ensure you're setting enough traps for the size of your property. It's possible to create your own DIY mosquito traps. A simple Google search will reveal multiple methods and guides for making a mosquito trap.
    Pro tip: Never place traps where people or animals gather. The traps attract mosquitoes and you could draw them to a blood meal host instead of the trap.
  3. Use chemical control: Larvicides, foggers, and other chemical control options can be used to reduce mosquito populations. It's important to do your research. While these can be effective, some agents are toxic to crops or animals. Discuss your options with your VPSI sales rep or other expert where you purchase your pest control products.

Want to try a new trap? VPSI carries Spartan Mosquito Eradicators. These traps eradicate 95% of mosquitoes for up to 90 days. No electricity, fogs, or sprays. Just add water, shake, and place. Call us at 800-624-2061 to order.

Tips for getting rid of mosquitoes near a body of water

If you have a body of water on your property like a pond or swamp then you can't just remove the water. You certainly can't tip it over like a bucket.

You'll need to take additional measures to ensure that your property isn't mosquito-friendly. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to spawn. Installing aeration pumps or a fountain can disrupt the water and make it difficult for mosquitoes to reproduce.

Reduce the amount of vegetation such as lily pads, cattails, and piles of leaves, in and around the water. This will lower the amount of hiding places that naturally protect mosquitoes from their predators.

Use nature to fight mosquitoes

Nature provides a variety of biological mosquito control options for farmers.

Mosquitoes are a nuisance to people, but a delicacy to some other creatures. By introducing species that eat mosquitoes or creating a welcome environment for them, you can greatly reduce the mosquitoes on your property naturally.

Bats are an excellent way to combat mosquitoes. They pose little threat to people or livestock. Insects are the ones that should be concerned when bats are on the property. Though they do eat mosquitoes, bats also feast on other bugs so they shouldn't be relied on as a sole method of mosquito control. If you've seen bats flying around your property, try adding bat houses (boxes) to make them feel more at home. You can purchase bat houses or make your own.

This article walks you through the steps of building your own bat house.

dragonfly farm pond

Dragonflies prey on mosquitoes and can help reduce pests near ponds.

Dragonflies also love to eat mosquitoes and will attack them as both nymphs and adults. If you have a pond or other body of water, you can release dragonfly nymphs into the water and let them feast on the mosquitoes. Like bats, mosquitoes are not their only food source.

Fish can be one of the most effective weapons nature gives us against mosquitoes. Certain fish like koi, goldfish, guppies, minnows, golden orfe, and mosquito fish are known to eat mosquito larvae in ponds. Before choosing the type of fish for your property, check with the local fish and game department for recommendations and local regulations. If you choose to introduce more than one fish species then do your research to make sure they are compatible together.

Quick tips for mosquito control around the barn

Here are a few additional tips to help you with mosquito control in and around the barn:

  • Get the air moving: Stagnant air is inviting for mosquitoes. It traps moisture and scents that attract them. Use fans in barns and stables to discourage mosquitoes from sticking around.
  • Time your turn out: People often turn out livestock, particularly horses, in the evening to avoid the heat and flies. Dawn and dusk are the most active times for mosquitoes. Avoid night turn out if possible.
  • Keep animals off wet pasture: When the soil is soft from the rain, livestock leave deep hoof prints in the mud. These imprints fill with water and create ideal mosquito breeding grounds. Let the ground harden before turning out livestock and horses if at all possible.

horse spring mud

Horses and livestock leave imprints in mud that can fill up with water and mosquito eggs.

Conclusion

You can reduce the amount of mosquitoes on your farm, but it takes some effort.

Follow the tips above and remember the following:

  • Eliminate standing water, clear vegetation, and use pumps or fountains
  • Set traps, sprays, larvicides, foggers, or other chemical control options
  • Create inviting habitats for fish, insects, and bats that eat mosquitoes

If you need help finding the right mosquito control products for your farm, then call us at 800-624-2061.



Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews

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