Feline Health Month

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Mosquitoes are not only one of the most annoying pests, but they are the intermediate host for heartworm disease in dogs and cats.

Beware of Mosquito signOne way to reduce the risk of heartworm disease for your pet is to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your backyard. Understanding the life cycle of the mosquito can help you reduce the mosquito population without using strong chemicals that can harm the environment and pets.

Mosquitoes have four stages in their life cycle: Egg, Larva, Pupa and Adult. The Egg, Larva, and Pupa stages are in stagnant water. The Adult stage is the only time the mosquito is out of the water and able to fly. Mosquitoes are diurnal, meaning they are active twice a day (at dawn and at dusk). They are attracted to heat and different scents. During the day they will rest in tall grasses.

The best way to reduce the mosquito population in your backyard is to remove standing water so that the mosquitoes cannot complete their life cycle. Do not leave out wheel barrels or buckets to fill up with rain water. Empty your pet’s water bowl every day. Clean out bird baths regularly. Remove debris and standing water from rain gutters. Anything that can hold water can be an area for mosquitoes to grow.

If you have spots in your yard with standing water after rain, or collect water in rain barrels, you can use Bacillus Thuringiensis israelensis (BTi) to kill the mosquito larvae. BTi is a naturally occurring soil bacterial organism that is toxic to mosquito larvae if eaten. It will also kill gnat and black fly larvae without killing fireflies or harming your pet if it drinks the water. BTi can be found in hardware stores or online in disc form that can be placed in standing water like rain barrels, or as granules that can be spread on the lawn.

Getting rid of their resting place will drive mosquitoes to stay in someone else's backyard. Mow your lawn weekly and keep weeds down so that mosquitoes have nowhere to rest during the day. Strong scented plants such as rosemary, basil, lemon balm, catnip, and marigolds are just a few plants that will repel mosquitoes from your yard. Essential oils from these plants, especially lemon balm and catnip, can be applied to your pet’s fur or your own skin to repel mosquitoes as well.

You should not rely on just these tips to truly get rid of all the mosquitoes. Your pets will still need to take their monthly heartworm preventative to keep them healthy, but by reducing the mosquito population, you can make everyone more comfortable in the backyard.

Have questions? Call us at (708) 331-4640. We would be happy to help!