How to keep mosquitos, ticks out of your yard this summer

Tick-borne diseases, particularly Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, are increasing statewide

Photo of Angela Mulka
"One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent mosquitos is dumping standing water on your property at least once a week," Brian Verhougstraete, MDARD’s Pesticide Section Manager, said in a statement.

"One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent mosquitos is dumping standing water on your property at least once a week," Brian Verhougstraete, MDARD’s Pesticide Section Manager, said in a statement.

Getty Images

It's Thursday and the holiday weekend is coming fast. The unofficial start to summer begins after Memorial Day and that means one thing — mosquitos and ticks are here too.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development urged Michigan residents to remember to take precautions against these pests and the diseases they carry in a press release on Wednesday.

"One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent mosquitos is dumping standing water on your property at least once a week," Brian Verhougstraete, MDARD’s Pesticide Section Manager, said in the release.

"Mosquitos lay eggs in water, so eliminating standing water removes mosquitos’ ability to breed. Mosquito larvae live in water and can take only seven days after hatching from eggs to grow into flying adults, making preparation and early action essential. Now is a great time to check around for anything that collects water," Verhougstraete continued.

MDARD suggests people look for standing water in places like:

  • Clogged gutters
  • Kids’ toys
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Flowerpots and buckets
  • Birdbaths

Areas with tall grass and brush provide mosquitos and ticks with protection, so MDARD also suggests homeowners maintain a regular lawn mowing schedule. 

Tick-borne diseases, particularly Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, are increasing across the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services stated in a recent press release.

"Preventing tick bites is the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and anaplasmosis," Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive, said in a press release on Wednesday. "If you find a tick attached to your body, promptly remove it. Monitor your health and if you experience fever, rash, muscle or joint aches or other symptoms, consult with your medical provider."

Reported cases of anaplasmosis in Michigan residents jumped from 17 confirmed and probable cases in 2020 to 56 in 2021. Counties with the largest increase in anaplasmosis cases include Dickinson and Menominee in the Upper Peninsula and Manistee and Benzie in the Lower Peninsula.

"The early spring is a good time to clear some brush to reduce mosquito populations while also keeping dangerous ticks away from your lawn," MDARD stated in the release.

When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the U.S.)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-Undecanone

Once mosquitos arrive, larvicides and adulticides can also provide temporary control of mosquitos, according to MDARD.

Larvicides are products designed to be applied directly to water to control mosquito larvae. Adulticides are used in fogging and spraying to control adult mosquitoes. Both options can temporarily reduce the mosquito population in your area, but do not provide long-term solutions against mosquitos.

A safe alternative to applying insecticides yourself is hiring a mosquito control business. A list of Michigan firms licensed to apply pesticides is available online.

Additionally, the season for spongy moths (formerly called gypsy moths) is underway with caterpillars starting to hatch in May. The invasive species can defoliate oaks and other trees for a six to eight-week period, according to Michigan State University's Integrated Pest Management Program.

Gypsy moth caterpillars are an invasive species from Europe. With a high reproductive rate and no natural predators in Michigan, the population numbers can get out of control, defoliating and killing trees and becoming a nuisance to residents. (Getty Images)

Gypsy moth caterpillars are an invasive species from Europe. With a high reproductive rate and no natural predators in Michigan, the population numbers can get out of control, defoliating and killing trees and becoming a nuisance to residents. (Getty Images)

 
The new common name for L. dispar, "spongy moth," derives from the French name, "spongieuse," likening it to the color and rough texture of a natural sponge.

The new common name for L. dispar, "spongy moth," derives from the French name, "spongieuse," likening it to the color and rough texture of a natural sponge.

Photo provided/ Karla Salp, Washington State Department of Agriculture/DNR
Spongy moth caterpillars are an invasive species from Europe. With a high reproductive rate and no natural predators in Michigan, the population numbers can get out of control, defoliating and killing trees and becoming a nuisance to residents.

To help Michigan residents deal with the spongy moth and its destructive caterpillars, MSU revamped its spongy moth website to include tips from homeowners.

"We’ve had many calls from many people in the previous season who want to know more about spongy moths," James Wieferich, forest health specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said in a recent press release. "This MSU website is the perfect spot to answer most of their questions."