Flood Water Mosquitoes or Why Are There Suddenly So Many Mosquitoes?

Why do I have so many mosquitoes a week after it rains? This is a familiar question for anyone, anywhere in the summer. The answer is floodwater mosquitoes.


These guys, the floodwater mosquitoes, are present in just about every environment from snow melt (not a problem here in Texas) to desert areas that are prone to monsoon type rains. What is unique about this type of mosquito is that they do not lay their eggs in water; but in dry or damp areas prone to flooding. There are many species of floodwater mosquitoes, and each finds the particular place they like best, from hoof prints to grassy areas along side roads. The eggs they lay can survive on dry ground for up to seven years.

The flood water mosquitoes egg laying habits and ability to fly long distances added with Austin’s multiple years of drought have made this summer a perfect year for floodwater mosquitoes. These nasty guys can show up 20 miles from where they are hatched, and lay 200 eggs in their lifetime. Because the eggs can survive drying for long periods, there can be 0.7-1.3 million eggs per acre. After a summer rain, adult mosquitoes can emerge within six days. This means a week after heavy summer rain in Austin, particularly after a few years of drought, there can be millions of new mosquitoes flying around.

Luckily for us, most floodwater mosquitoes don’t live very long, an average of about 2 weeks. For two to three weeks after a heavy storm, there will be many more (millions more) mosquitoes. You can counteract this summer scourge. Floodwater mosquitoes feed primarily at dawn and dusk, so avoid being outdoors at that time. Dress in light colored clothes and use repellents when you are outdoors. Treating your yard for mosquitoes will also be effective, but perhaps less so than for other types of mosquitoes, simply due to the large numbers that simultaneously emerge. And remember, in a couple of weeks they will be gone…until a week after the next heavy rain.



Chikungunya has been in the news a lot lately, but what is it, how do you prevent it, and most importantly, how do you say it?!

Chikungunya (pronounced chick en GUN yah) is a mosquito-borne illness. It cannot be transmitted from human to human, but only from human to mosquito to human. The reason you have never heard of it, although it is common in other parts of the world, is that it only recently arrived in the Americas. In fact, until a week or two ago, the only cases in the United States were people who contracted the disease elsewhere and just happened to be back home when they started to experience the symptoms.

Symptoms of chikungunya include headache, fever, joint pain, rash and in some cases, long term joint issues. There is no vaccine, and it can be painful, but it is seldom fatal. Chronic symptoms are also rare.

The primary carriers of chikungunya are Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito). Both of these species feed during the day, as well as at dawn and dusk. They are cavity nesting mosquitoes and they prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant water with rotting vegetation, or in areas that are currently dry but often fill with water. Their eggs can survive being dried out for long periods. In Texas, the yellow fever mosquito lays eggs almost exclusively in man-made containers such as tires, tin cans, flower pots, roof gutters and children’s toys. The Asian tiger mosquito lays eggs in these places as well as in tree holes and other natural cavities. These types of mosquitoes are weak fliers and are generally found within 1/2 mile of where they hatch. The Asian tiger mosquito seldom ranges more than 200 yards from where it was hatched.

The best way to reduce your chances of contracting chikungunya is to reduce your chances of being bitten by the mosquitoes that carry it through integrated pest management. First, eliminate mosquito breeding sites by following the 5 Ts. Tip out any containers with standing water, Toss out grass clippings and leaf piles, Turn over anything that can hold water, tighten Tarps so they cannot hold water and Treat natural tree holes with larvacide or mosquito dunks. Remember that even a bottle cap full of water can provide an egg laying site for these nasty pests. Keeping gutters clean will also help as even small dams in gutters can provide breeding sites. Because these Aedes mosquitoes don’t travel far from breeding sites, working with your neighbors can greatly reduce the population.

There are other things you can do to prevent bites such as wearing long sleeves and pants, but more practical methods during a hot Texas summer include dressing in loose-fitting, light colored clothing. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors and body heat, and can easily bite through tight fitting clothing. Drinking beer will also make you more attractive to mosquitoes, so after mowing the lawn, down a sports drink instead. Avoid floral perfumes and lotions with the words “alpha hydroxy” in the ingredient list, and use repellents while enjoying outdoor activities. Finally, treat your yard to reduce the population around your home.

While chikungunya has been in the news lately, it is not new. It is just one of many mosquito-borne illnesses that humans have been dealing with for years. So relax, keep the tips above in mind, and enjoy your summer!

Colorful Corn Salad

At Mosquito Squad we know that using your yard during a Texas summer is often about food and friends. Grills get fired up with great local food. kids are out of school and life is just more relaxed. The joys of summer are just starting. Go get summer going! I want to share another recipe that combines great local food and more “exotic” ingredients from outside Texas. Right now, Central Texas farmer’s markets are filling with spring and summer produce. This salad uses all of the goodness of a summer farmers market for a sweet and savory combination. According to the original recipe, this is a salsa or cool-down, but I have always seen it as a salad. I’ve changed the recipe over the years to reflect the flavors I prefer. It is a great light summer salad that goes well with spicy grilled foods. I especially like it with grilled shrimp. The sweet and acid combination of this salad make it hold up well with the robust flavors of barbecue or grilled steak. For a truly Texas variation, substitute peach or crisp local pears for the papaya. This is a great choice for a summer potluck, block party or pool party.

  • 1 cup fresh corn, cut from the cob or 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 cups papaya, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced, seeded roma tomatoes, or quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced jalapeno (optional)
  • salt to taste.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cilantro. Refrigerate up to two hours. Immediately before serving, stir in fresh cilantro. Makes about 4 cups.

Lightning Bugs

FireflyI saw my first lightning bug of the season last night, right after my co-workers and I had been talking about them. We could remember chasing and catching lightning bugs as a kids. They made us run and jump and laugh. Just seeing them kind of makes me feel like a kid again. They are the coolest bugs ever!

As we talked, we felt like there are fewer lightning bugs around then when we were kids, and this might be true. There are several reasons for this, but there are things you can do to attract them to your homes, and there are places you can still find lots of them.

The reason lightning bugs are the coolest bug ever is the very thing that gives them their name; they light up. Even their scientific name, Photinus, is about light. Lightning bugs or fireflies are not really bugs or flies, but are beetles. There are over 1500 types worldwide and in the US they are typically only found east of the Rockies. Fireflies bioluminesce, or create light. All adult males, some adult females and some larvae have this ability. The larvae give us the term glowworm. They light up to attract mates or prey (or children) or both. Adult bugs live only a couple of weeks. Many females cannot fly, so the males have to come to them. The larvae live in the soil and decaying organic matter and eat other insects and worms. They spend most of their lives as larvae and pupae, and the entire lifecycle takes about two years. They are generally found near water, and prefer warm humid conditions.

Their lifestyle has made them vulnerable. Here in Texas, it is thought that the recent years of drought (they spend most of their lives in the soil, and they like it moist) and the fire ant population (those nasty predators!) has helped lead to the decrease in fireflies. The other major factors contributing to the decline in lightning bugs is development and increased outdoor lighting. Development has led to habitat loss because humans tend to clean up the decaying plant matter where larvae live, and we tend to cut down trees and pave open areas. Outdoor lighting can affect the mating and feeding behavior of lightning bugs.

Attracting lightning bugs back into the areas where we live is possible and may even enhance our outdoor spaces. Because lightning bugs like moist areas with cover, adding a pond or stream to your landscape can help to attract lightning bugs. Long grasses, shrubs and mulch around the pond will also help. Larval and female lightning bugs like long grass, and the mulch provides the decaying organic matter for eggs and glowworms. Female lightning bugs harbor in long grass, and planting longer ornamental grasses around ponds can increase lightning bug habitat. During the weeks that lightning bugs are active, turning off outdoor lighting will help these guys in their mating and eating.

But we all want to see them, and now is the time of year to do it. It means going out in the evening, often to a local park, and hanging out. Not a hard thing to do this time of year. Some suggested places to start looking are in parks near creeks and ponds. Memorial Park, Old Settlers Park, and along Brushy Creek trail are places in to look in Round Rock. In Austin there are so many places to go that have water and trees, but Emma Long Park, Zilker Park, and Mayfield Park all come to mind. In Pfluegerville, try visiting Creekside Park. Just recently, I was in Champion Park along the Brushy Creek trail in Round Rock and I saw lots of fireflies.

Happy lightning bug hunting!

Responsible mosquito control near water

One of the most common questions I get is, “how safe is your service?” The answer is that it is extremely safe for people and pets, but there is one thing we need to watch out for, and that is fish. In a yard with a fish pond, we can usually throw a tarp over the pond while we treat the yard, then remove it before leaving and the fish will be unaffected. But if your home is on a lake or river, we can’t just throw a tarp over it. The best solution is to use our all-natural product. 


Time on the lake with no mosquitoes, what a treat!

Our all-natural product is peppermint-based, and it is very effective (only slightly less so than our standard product), but it does need to be applied every two weeks, compared to every three weeks for most homes with the standard product. That adds to the cost of the service, but of course it is worth it when you understand the alternative. We can also talk about a hybrid service, where we use the all-natural product near the water and the standard product elsewhere. We will still need to treat every two weeks, but it will increase the overall effectiveness.

Other customers who enjoy the all natural service are those who have vegetable gardens. We avoid spraying directly on vegetable gardens, but it is inevitable that some product will carry into a garden area, and even though our standard product can be washed off with soap and water, many people like the idea of minimizing the chemicals that come in contact with their food.

Wherever you live, Mosquito Squad has an option that will work for you. Please don’t hesitate to share your concerns and we will personalize our service to fit your needs.

What are Those Nasty Green Worms Hanging From My Oak Trees?


This time of year in Central Texas people are doing that “get that thing off me” dance. There are creepy worms on silken threads hanging from trees in their yards. They get in your hair, on your furniture and drop onto you. They are a downside to a lovely Texas Spring. But what are they?

These little caterpillars have many names, mostly describing how they look or move. They are called leaf rollers, oak loopers, inch worms, measuring worms and spring cankerworms. They move by inching along, giving them the names inch worm and measuring worms. The loop their bodies form as they move gives them the looper name, and their habit of rolling into leaves up for protection gives them the leaf roller name. At my house, we call them inch worms. They usually live on oak trees but can infest pecans, and other trees.

Fortunately these bugs are generally more of a nuisance than a dangerous pest. They can strip a tree of leaves but a healthy mature tree can easily recover from the defoliation. During the recovery period. the trees may need a little extra TLC in the form ofwater and fertilizer. Wasps and birds are natural predators of these hungry little caterpillars.

These annoying worms are actually moth larva. They usually hatch in March, and eat the emerging leaves on live oak trees. The adult moth is dull colored, and only about an inch long; the females can’t even fly. The female moths have to crawl to a tree and climb it to lay their eggs. Around the first of May, adult moths lay their eggs in cracks in tree bark and the eggs don’t hatch until the following March. The hatched larva are our friends the inch worms. They feed on the new oak leaves and use their webs to move from tree to tree. Around the end of April, the caterpillars drop to the ground to pupate. The adult moths emerge in late April and early May to repeat the cycle.

This cycle give us our spring inch worms. These annoying little worms hanging from the trees can drive you crazy. Luckily, they don’t usually cause lasting harm to trees and their annoying habits last only a short time. Soon the inch worms will be gone for another year.

More information: https://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/cimg293.html

Today is World Health Day

Today is World Health Day

At Mosquito Squad, we prefer to focus on the positive (enjoying outdoor living) rather than the negative (avoiding disease), but it’s no exaggeration to say that mosquitoes are a leading cause of illness and death in the world. As we observe World Health Day, let’s all take care to protect ourselves and consider helping others through worthy organizations such as Malaria No More. http://www.malarianomore.org/