Battling Mosquitoes

— Written By and last updated by
en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲
Asian tiger mosquito

Asian tiger mosquitoes are easily identified by their distinctive black and white striped legs.

If you think all those mosquitoes in your yard are flying in from some far away swamp, you may need to think again. The Asian tiger mosquito, our state’s worst mosquito species, lives and breeds in backyards, on farms, and in urban areas – and odds are it is making its home in your yard at this very moment.

Easily identified by its distinct white and black striped legs and body, the Asian tiger mosquito is one of at least 60 types of mosquito found in North Carolina. It is of particular concern because it can spread diseases to humans and animals, including West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as heartworms to dogs and cats. While many garden related activities create the perfect habitat for these prolific pests to multiply, there are actions you can take today that will make your yard less appealing to them.

Tip and Toss

All mosquitoes lay their eggs in or very near standing water. The larvae that hatch from these eggs are aquatic, often referred to as “wrigglers” for the way they wriggle back and forth as they move through the water. It takes wrigglers several days to mature into adult mosquitoes.

Many of our native mosquitoes reproduce in ditches, swamps, marshes, and other permanent bodies of water where their natural enemies, which include birds, frogs, dragonflies, and fish, also reside and help keep their numbers from getting out of control.

The Asian tiger mosquito is different. It prefers to breed in small pockets of water where natural enemies cannot survive. These tenacious pests can reproduce in as little as an ounce of water. They are weak flyers, generally moving less than 1000 feet from the spot where they hatched. This means if you have Asian tiger mosquitoes in your yard they came from somewhere close by, like a clogged gutter, flower pot saucer, or birdbath.


When not flushed out daily, bird baths quickly become a prime breeding site for Asian tiger mosquitoes.

The most important thing you can do to reduce Asian mosquito populations in your yard is to eliminate breeding sites by regularly tipping out any container that holds water and tossing items that are not needed. This includes washing out birdbaths and pet saucers daily, cleaning out gutters so they do not hold water, and storing buckets and wheelbarrows under shelters where they cannot fill with water. Getting rid of old tires and other debris in your neighborhood will help reduce mosquito populations community wide.

Mosquito Dunks

In pools of water you cannot empty, such as rain barrels, water gardens, swimming pools and tree cavities, you can treat with mosquito dunks. These doughnut shaped wafers contain a naturally occurring bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis that kills mosquito larvae before they are able to mature. Mosquito dunks containing this bacterium are effective for around 30 days and are not harmful to fish, birds, mammals or other wildlife. Other species of Bacillus are used by organic gardeners to control caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, and some plant diseases. Pest control products containing Bacillus are available from local garden centers.

Repellents and Sprays

While reducing breeding sites is the best long term control for mosquitoes, using personal repellents is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself when mosquito populations are high. Overall, products containing the insecticide DEET have proven to be most effective, though products containing oil from the lemon eucalyptus tree have performed as well as low concentrations of DEET in university studies. In addition, The US Department of Agriculture is currently researching compounds found in the leaves of American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, for their mosquito repelling properties (read more)

Despite popular belief, no plants have been shown to deter mosquitoes when simply grown in the garden. In addition, no studies have shown bug zappers or sonic/ultrasonic devices to have any deterrent effects on mosquitoes.

Community wide spray programs for adult mosquito control have little impact on Asian tiger mosquito populations because they do not live in the ditches and canals these programs target. In addition, Asian tiger mosquitoes are active primarily in the daytime, whereas spray programs take place in the late evening. Spraying or fogging your yard is also of little use because this only kills the adult mosquitoes who happen to be flying around at the time you spray, while also potentially killing any bees, beneficial insects, and pollinators that may be visiting your yard. Pesticide sprays do nothing to eliminate mosquito habitat, which should be the ultimate aim of any mosquito control plan.

Learn More!

More images and facts about Asian tiger mosquito from the University of Florida

Learn more about mosquitoes and how to control them from these online resources:

Use Extension Search to find research based information from Cooperative Extension systems across the U.S.

Subscribe to the Chatham Gardener email list to receive timely updates on sustainable lawn, garden, and landscape care for the central NC Piedmont.