Mosquitoes…Oh No!

mosquitoWe are finally getting some much-needed rain to the area. Most of Southeast Nebraska is either out of the drought or only in the first category of drought, which is abnormally dry. Due to all of this rain we have been seeing, we are also starting to see problems with mosquito populations in the area.

Mosquitoes are a type of insect that is in the same order as flies. These insects have a complete lifecycle, which includes an egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. They are also vectors of many different diseases. Because of these factors, we need to do what we can to eliminate the problem and reduce mosquito populations.

The first three life stages of a mosquito are completed in or near bodies of water, typically standing water, the adult is the only stage not in the water. Because of all the recent rains we have seen in Southeast Nebraska, mosquito populations should be fairly high this year. The mosquitos are out laying their eggs on all the standing water left behind by the recent rain events, which will lead to large populations throughout this summer.

During the summer we all tend to spend a great deal of time outdoors working in the garden, mowing, or just having outdoor get-togethers and grill-outs. It is during this time we really notice the mosquito problem and want to do something to eliminate the problem. This isn’t an easy fix, but there are steps you can take to reduce the problem and make it more enjoyable to be outside.

Bug Spray Collage 2

  • Eliminate any breeding locations for the mosquitoes
    • Eliminate any standing water from your property
      • Clean bird bath’s and pools weekly
      • Dump buckets and old tires that may have water in them
      • Check for low areas in your landscape that may have water sitting in it
  • Make sure your lawn is mowed properly and your shrubs are all pruned correctly
    • Often we find mosquitoes in the edges of lawns where the native grasses are taller and there is a lot of overgrown landscaping. If we keep our lawns mowed, we will have less of a mosquito population.
  • Use bug sprays that have the ingredient DEET in them
  • Use citronella candles around our outdoor functions
  • Even barbeque smoke will help deter mosquitoes from the area
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and long socks to limit skin exposure to the insects
  • Use Bug Zappers
  • Use larval control methods such as Bti products in the bird bath or baby pool
    • Bti is harmful to the larvae of mosquitoes but not to birds, fish, mammals, or other organisms
  • If you are planning an outdoor gathering, you can control the resting adult mosquitoes on lawns, flower borders, smaller trees, and shrubs with a labeled insecticide about three hours prior to the planned event, according to Barb Ogg, Fred Baxendale, and Jim Kalisch from UNL Extension. Just be sure to read and follow all label directions when working with pesticides.

It is best to utilize some methods to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes because they spread many diseases including West Nile Virus, which is currently the most important mosquito-vectored disease in the U.S. Most people who get West Nile Virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms. However, from 2001 to 2009 1,100 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to West Nile Virus. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older.

Information for this article came from “Residential Mosquito Control” NebGuide by Barbara Ogg, Extension Educator; Frederick Baxendale, Extension Entomologist; and James Kalisch, Extension Associate.

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Storm Damaged Trees

tree pile, pic monkeyFrom the front window of my office I can see a very sad sight, a large mound of tree limbs and dead trees from the storms last week. The thunderstorms that raged through Nebraska on June 3, hit us with hail, high winds, and tornadoes. These storms caused damage to many of our trees.

broken branch pic monkey

Many of our trees had very large branches break off of the tree. This is not a good situation for the tree to be in. The leaves that come off of the tree when a branch breaks were all aiding with photosynthesis, this can be a large shock for the tree when it loses all that photosynthetic material. It also leaves a large wound for the tree that takes time to seal up. If you can get to the location of the break, it is best to go in and clean that break into a good pruning cut. Some of the trees I looked at from the storm, had bark ripped all the way down the trunk of the tree, this is not a good situation for the tree to be in either. When trees have open wounds that are large, it takes a long time for the tree to seal up that location, if it can ever be done. This is a great location for insects and diseases to come into the trees and cause secondary effects on the trees.

Some trees were uprooted on one side of the tree. This is not a good situation for the tree as this caused a great deal of damage to the roots of the tree. According to John Fech, Kathleen Cue, and Graham Herbst from Douglas-Sarpy County Extension, the younger the tree is, the more chance it has to survive storm damage that caused it to lean.

  1. If the tree is 0-5 years old, it has a good chance to survive leaning and should be staked as soon as possible, as long as it is not closely located to people or property.
  2. If the tree is 5-10 years old and is leaning, there is a 50% chance that the tree will survive.
  3. If the tree is more than 10 years old and is leaning, it becomes a hazardous tree. If that tree is in an area where it is in close proximity to people or properties, it should definitely be removed. However, if this tree is on an acreage or farmstead and is further away from people or property, it may be able to survive in that location,
  4. With any of tree damage a Certified Arborist should be consulted to know for sure.

hail, pic monkey

The hail also caused a great deal of damage to our trees and shrubs. As the hail falls from the sky, it can rip through the leaves of many of our plants. Hail can cause holes through leaves and it can fray the edges of the leaves. Hail can also cause wounds on the trunk and branches of younger trees and shrubs, which would be a location for insects and diseases to enter the tree and cause secondary problems to the tree or shrub. There is not much we can do for hail damage to a tree or shrub. Most damage from hail is minimal and the plants can survive it.