Backyard Hunt – alley

Backyard Hunt

Explore the places that mosquitoes live and breed outside your backyard. Click on hiddenhot spots to learn more.

Use the scroll bar, arrow keys or swipe touch screen to move left and right. Explore scene with mouse or touch to target breeding and resting sites, then select target for information. Return to backyard at left or right. Text version

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Drainage Ditches -Drainage ditches like this may hold water for only parts of the year. Such small ditches sometimes lack fish and the other aquatic predators that will feed on mosquito larvae. If such sites begin to produce mosquitoes, talk with your local authorities about ways to improve drainage, add fish or treat such sites with an approved insecticide. Visit our mosquito control page for more information on appropriate treatments.

Tires -Tires are the perfect breeding site for mosquitoes. No matter how a tire lies on the ground or is stored outdoors, it will collect water. Add a little grass, soil or leaves and you have the perfect mosquito home. For play areas, cut holes in the bottom of tire swings to allow water to drain. Unneeded tires should be recycled and disposed of properly, away from your home or property. Tire dumps pose a real health threat and should be reported to authorities.

Puddles -Some mosquitoes, known as floodwater mosquitoes, breed quickly in low-lying areas following a flood or period of rain. Water need only stand for as little as 3 to 4 days for some species to complete their life cycle. Sometimes little can be done to prevent this kind of mosquito. Fortunately, floodwater mosquitoes are not a major source of human disease and problems usually decline within a couple of weeks after rains cease.

Garbage Cans -Garbage cans are a common source of mosquitoes in urban areas. If garbage cans are left open, or when their lids are left on the ground, water can  accumulate. Water mixed with garbage or a few leaves creates a perfect mosquito breeding spot. Make sure your garbage cans have lids on and that they are tight fitting.

Creeks -Natural, year-round creeks are not always big sources of mosquitoes. This is because pest mosquito larvae do not survive as well in creeks and streams that contain fish. However during the dry months of late summer, when fish die off as streams dry up, mosquitoes can become a problem. Contact your local health department or mosquito district if you suspect mosquito breeding is a problem in a nearby waterway.

Hoof Prints and Tire Tracks -Any depression that holds water for more than a few days can breed mosquitoes. Live stock hoof prints that hold manure-contaminated water, or even tire tracks, make excellent mosquito breeding holes after a rain. It’s best to avoid or treat these areas when mosquitoes become abundant. For treatment tips visit our mosquito control section.

Birds -Birds play important roles in the life cycles of many mosquitoes and the viruses they transmit. Birds eat many insects; but because they are active mostly during the day, few birds are really good at controlling mosquitoes. Mosquitoes make up a very small part of the purple martin’s diet, for example. Blue jays, grackles, crows and hawks are very sensitive to West Nile virus, and may die in high numbers when this disease occurs. Seeing several of these types of birds sick or dead, for no apparent reason, may signal a West Nile virus bird epidemic in your area. When this occurs, health department officials may be interested in collecting birds—but usually only if you know they have died within the past 24 hours. It’s best to check with your local health department to see whether they are collecting birds for analysis.

Sewers -Underground sewer lines, especially those that don’t drain completely, are another hidden place where mosquitoes can breed. In urban areas adult mosquitoes may spend the winter months in the relatively warm protection of the sewer system (These health department employees are sampling adult mosquitoes from an underground storm sewer). Well-maintained sewers, however, are not likely to be a major source of mosquito breeding.

Horses -Horses can get West Nile virus, just like people. In fact, horses are even more susceptible to this disease than humans. If you are a horse owner, you should take steps to prevent your horses from becoming infected. Check with your veterinarian for the latest information on vaccines and other ways to prevent infection.

Click here to discover mosquito breeding and resting sites in your backyard.