A properly designed pond ecosystem with skimmers and waterfalls should not attract mosquitoes. That might sound crazy, but it’s true!
Your skimmer will suck most mosquito eggs from the water. Between that and healthy pond fish, frogs, toads, dragonflies and, of course, the resident turtles, mosquitoes don’t stand a chance.
At a Glance: Mosquitoes in Ponds
- A well-built backyard pond will not attract mosquitoes
- Mosquitoes like stagnant water, but most ponds have moving water
- Pond fish and other pond animals eat mosquito larvae
- If you don’t have a pond you’re missing out on the fish, frogs, and dragonfly that will eat all the other biting insects like mosquitoes
- Pond skimmers suck mosquito eggs out of the water
- If you have mosquitoes near your pond, check for nearby stagnant water and overgrown plants
Mosquitoes Don't Like Your Pond
You don’t want mosquitoes anywhere near your pond. Luckily, they don’t want to be there either.
Female mosquitoes – the ones that bite – lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant, shallow bodies of water. Once these eggs hatch, the larvae eat nutrients in the water while using snorkel-like appendages to breathe air.
Old tires, birdbaths, clogged gutters and other small containers that gather rainwater all create perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. A properly built backyard pond does not.
Your skimmer sucks up eggs on the water’s surface, just like it sucks up twigs and leaves. Your pump keeps water circulating throughout the pond, creating too turbulent of an environment for any surviving larvae to break the water’s surface for air. Your fish take care of any remaining larvae and even lingering adult mosquitoes – they make a great snack! (This is one of the many reasons why you should always keep fish in your pond.)
Mosquitoes also prefer water that is very shallow. Water that’s just a few inches deep is mosquito maternity ward. Water that’s 2 feet deep or more – which your pond should be in most parts – is just too much.
What to Do If You Have Mosquitoes Near Your Pond
A pond by itself will not attract mosquitoes for the reasons described above. Still, some water garden owners find themselves covered in itchy bites after spending an evening outside. What gives?
The cause usually lies not in the person’s pond, but rather in everything surrounding it. Here are some steps to take to get rid of mosquitoes by your pond:
- Do you have stagnant water elsewhere in your yard, like in a birdbath, clogged gutter or low-lying ditch? Get rid of these mosquito-attracting areas. You can treat any remaining areas with granules of Bacillus thuringiensis – also known as Bti. This naturally occurring bacteria specifically targets the larvae of mosquitoes and other nuisance bugs, without harming helpful insects or pond life.
- Cut back overgrown vegetation around your pond. Adult mosquitoes love to hang out in weeds and other grassy areas where they can hide from predators.
- Add floating plants. Waterlilies, water hyacinths and other plants that float on the surface of your water create a barrier between female mosquitoes and the water they need to lay their eggs. These plants also create shelter for your fish and keep your pond water clear.
- Add more fish. Fish love to munch on mosquito larvae and other biting insects.
- Keep water moving. Mosquitoes need stagnant water in order to lay their eggs. Keep your pump running all day during peak mosquito season – late April through early fall – and consider adding a fountain, additional waterfalls or anything else that adds turbulence to the water.
- Starve larvae. Mosquito larvae need certain nutrients in order to grow into adult, blood-sucking pests, so starve them before they get too big. You can cut back their food source by keeping algae under control with the help of beneficial bacteria and aquatic plants.
Mosquitoes: Know Your Enemy
Arm yourself with some knowledge before going to war with backyard pests:
- Only female mosquitoes bite. They need blood in order to produce viable eggs.
- More than 3,000 breeds of mosquitoes exist worldwide, including about 200 in the United States and 60 in Pennsylvania. The most common breed in Pennsylvania is the northern house mosquito, which transmits most cases of West Nile Virus here.
- Mosquitoes begin hatching when the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees. That means mosquito season in Pennsylvania usually starts in late April and continues through early fall.
- Hot temperatures and heavy rain create ideal conditions for mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes can have a lifespan as short as seven days or as long as a month, depending on the species.
- Northern house mosquitoes lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant water in formations called rafts. These eggs hatch into larvae that are sometimes called wrigglers because of the way they move across the water’s surface.
- West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness in Pennsylvania. The state West Nile Virus Control Program considers York, Lancaster, Dauphin, Adams and surrounding counties high-risk zones because of the high number of mosquitoes found with the virus here. Still, only a few animals and even fewer humans test positive for the disease each year.
- Most people who contract West Nile Virus have no symptoms. About one in every five people with the illness develop a fever or other symptoms, while about one in 150 show serious symptoms.
- Mosquitoes have favorite foods. Having Type O blood, being pregnant, weighing more, exercising and even wearing red or dark colors can make you more attractive to blood suckers.
- Wearing long clothing and applying insect repellents with DEET can stop mosquitoes from biting. Having air flowing – like from a porch fan – can also help.
- Mosquitoes are weak flyers and can’t travel far. If you’re being bitten in your yard, mosquitoes are probably laying eggs there.
Mosquito facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Penn State University, Smithsonian magazine and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection