Why are these mosquitoes still thriving indoors — in the winter? – The Washington Post

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This article was published more than 3 years ago
Q: Don’t laugh. We have a mosquito problem inside our house, even in winter! For more than two years, they have been coming in bunches through the house, such that we have had to hang mosquito netting over our bed and walk around the house with a fly swatter to kill the swarm. We sealed the doors and windows and tried putting Mosquito Bits in the sump and down various drains, to no avail. The first exterminator we called showed up, laughed and left, thankfully without charging us. The second did find a standing water source we didn’t know about: the drip pan behind the basement beer fridge. We treated that, too, and on his recommendation put Bio Drain treatments down the drains. We thought that solved it, but alas, they are back. Any ideas?
A: Mosquitoes can fly into a house any time a door opens, and they can hitch a ride on a pet’s fur — even if there is no standing water indoors. But to reproduce, they need water. And to get the swarms you are describing, it seems as if they must be breeding somewhere in your house. You’ve already done the basics: sealing gaps and trying to eliminate sources of standing water. So you might just need to tweak a few steps to finally win the battle.
This musical stuffed moose has gone silent. Can it be fixed?
First, you might be able to improve on your efforts to eliminate standing water sources inside your house. Aedes aegypti, a kind of mosquito found in Virginia and most of the states to the south and west, is adept at breeding indoors because it actually prefers to lay its eggs on the walls of containers, rather than in ponds or other natural water sources, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The CDC has a lot of advice about how to get rid of Aedes aegypti because it’s the mosquito that carries the Zika virus and many other diseases, which is why it’s also known as the yellow fever mosquito, the dengue mosquito and the West Nile mosquito.) The eggs stick to the sides of the containers and remain viable for up to eight months, even if the water is poured out, so regularly emptying vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, dehydrator pans and that refrigerator drip pan might not be enough. You may need to scrub them out, and repeat that every week because that’s about the time it takes for an egg to hatch into a larva, pupate and become a flying and biting adult.
Where there is standing water that you can’t drain, such as P-traps or that sump you mention, it can be helpful to add something that kills any mosquito larvae that hatch. But read the labels: You might need to repeat the treatment more often than you’ve done in the past. Mosquito Bits, which consists of corn cob granules impregnated with the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, does all of its killing within 24 hours; the manufacturer recommends reapplying it every seven to 14 days. InVade Bio Drain also contains a bacterium, along with citrus oil, although it’s not clear whether the bacterium is the same. The product’s safety sheet identifies it only as “nonpathogenic bacillus bacteria.” Bio Drain is a gel designed to cling to the sides of containers and pipes, but it clearly doesn’t cling for long. The instructions say to reapply it every other day for the first week and then one to two times a week for ongoing maintenance.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, it might help to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats outdoors. Discarded tires, buckets, tree holes, birdbaths, trash cans, rain barrels and tarps bunched up in a way that allows water to collect all give mosquitoes places to lay their eggs. Eliminating breeding habitats outdoors won’t directly eliminate breeding indoors, but it will reduce the chance that a new swarm will follow you inside through an open door, which might explain why a problem you thought you’d licked came back. If you have a birdbath that you don’t want to get rid of, scrub it out each week and put in fresh water. If you have a rain barrel, which needs to have an opening to collect water, consider adding a product such as Mosquito Dunks, made by the same company that produces Mosquito Bits, using the same bacteria, but formed into doughnut shapes that take longer to dissolve.
Finally, you might try calling yet another pest-control expert. One laughed and did nothing to help, but the other was a good sleuth. Who knows what a third set of professional eyes might spot?
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