Mosquitoes seem to have an almost freakish ability to find us and the human blood that they crave. We attract them with the warmth of our bodies and the smell of carbon dioxide and other natural secretions emitted by our skin, among other things. Even though they have a short average lifespan of only 2-3 weeks, they can live longer (up to 6 months) and they typically breed very quickly. Most females will lay many hundreds of eggs and spawn large numbers of offspring in a very short amount of time.
They need water to reproduce, so some potential nesting areas for mosquitoes include lakes, swamps/marshes, swimming pools, buckets of water, planters, birdbaths, fish ponds, and trees.
Using Mosquito Foggers for Mosquito Control
Mosquito foggers do just that. These devices disperse insecticide into the air and should be directed at the areas mosquitoes use to congregate and breed. The insecticide appears in the form of a mist or fog of small droplets of insecticide. The mosquitoes that come in contact with the poison are killed, often instantly. You can discharge fogger contents directly onto foliage and lawns or allow it to drift from a distance.
Foggers are the devices of choice for pest control professionals when regulating mosquito populations.
There are two main types of mosquito foggers: thermal and electric.
- Thermal foggers use flame to heat coils that convert an insecticide from a liquid into a mist or fog. They are ideal for use in outdoor areas like large yards, patios, etc. These devices can operate using only a small propane gas cylinder, making them very portable and versatile. But, be sure not to use them in enclosed spaces due to the risk of asphyxiation and burns! Learn more about propane mosquito foggers.
- Electrical foggers (also called ultra-low volume or ULV, foggers), on the other hand, run on electricity (from an outlet or battery). They use this to generate high pressure that transforms the fogging liquid into a fine mist that they then disperse into the surrounding air.
How To Use Chemicals For Mosquito Fogging
How to prepare and use the product
Your chosen insecticide will probably need to be diluted with water before use. When mixing your insecticide, be sure to follow the instructions on the label of your chosen brand carefully. Using the right quantity of water in the dilution step is important, as this will ensure that you get the best results from your treatment.
Once your insecticide is prepped and ready, you can set off the fogger. Always do this in accordance with the instructions on your device.
Safety tips for using fogging insecticides
- Follow the instructions. The number one safety tip for using mosquito foggers is to follow the instructions on your device. This will help you to operate your fogger as safely and effectively as possible.
- Wear protective gear. Insecticides can contain harmful chemicals that can cause irritation or injury if they come into contact with your skin and eyes. The easiest way to minimize the risk is to wear gloves, goggles, and long sleeves and pants while mixing chemicals and operating your fogger.
- Avoid contact with insecticides. Try to avoid getting insecticides on your skin. If you do drip or pour some of the liquid product onto yourself, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to avoid irritation.
Is there a best time of day to fog for mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and late afternoon/evening, so fogging is most effective when done at those times.
Most mosquito species can’t cope with strong sunlight and will rest in shady spots during the daytime. They are most active at dawn and dusk when the sunlight isn’t as harsh, and they can come out to feed. There will be more of them flying around at these times, so your fogging treatment will be more effective.
The Insecticides Used in Mosquito Foggers
Generally speaking, these chemicals are divided into two types: residual and non-residual.
- Residual Chemicals – leave a residue that remains active for hours to weeks. Because insecticides are lethal to beneficial insects as well as pests, they may not be the best option for your lawn or garden.
- Non-Residual Chemicals – do not persist on surfaces and are only active during and immediately after treatment. Fogging with these chemicals is similar to going over your garden with a large can of mosquito spray. With a mosquito fogger, you can apply this type of insecticide to large stretches of land. These mosquito-infested areas can include foliage, lawns, and gardens. Unlike their residual counterparts, non-residual insecticides have a much shorter half-life. This means that their potency rapidly decreases after application, resulting in much less impact on other wildlife.
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Mosquito Fogger Chemicals: Common Active Ingredients
- Malathion: This is an organophosphate that is often used to spray crops as well as in mosquito fogging devices. You can spray it directly on vegetation where you know the mosquitoes dwell. Its residual effectiveness varies with the type of surface onto which it is sprayed, remaining active on wood surfaces longer than plaster.
- Permethrin: This is one among many chemicals known as pyrethroids. These chemicals are synthetic replicas of a naturally occurring insecticide found in certain species of the chrysanthemum flower. Generally, you mix these chemicals with oil or water and apply them as a mist.
- Sumithrin: This is a commonly used pyrethroid insecticide that is used to control a variety of insects, including mosquitoes. This chemical has relatively low toxicity in humans unless it is inhaled in large quantities. It is non-carcinogenic and quickly decomposes to non-toxic breakdown products in the environment. However, it is more toxic to dogs and cats than it is to humans, and is highly toxic to bees, fish, and other aquatic animals.
- Resmethrin: This is also a type of pyrethroid insecticide that is used to control a variety of insects. It has low toxicity but can cause stinging, itching, burning, tingling, and numbness if it comes into direct contact with the skin. It may also cause symptoms including dizziness, nausea, and fatigue if accidentally inhaled. Like sumithrin, it breaks down fairly quickly in the environment but is highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic organisms.
- Piperonyl butoxide (PBO): This is a commonly used ingredient in mosquito foggers. By itself, PBO does not harm insects; instead, it works alongside insecticides (such as permethrins or pyrethroids) to make them more effective. PBO has low toxicity in humans but may cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes. This chemical is moderately toxic for fish and other aquatic organisms but is virtually non-toxic for mammals, birds, and bees. However, it is often used in combination with other insecticides (such as sumithrin or resmethrin), which are highly toxic to bees.
These ingredients work by interfering with the central nervous system of their target insects. Because they are powerful insecticides, they can also be toxic to fish and small birds. This is something you should bear in mind if you care about the other fauna in your yard. But they are generally safe for humans when applied in the quantities recommended to control mosquitoes. Permethrin is less likely to enter groundwater than malathion and may be slightly safer for the environment as a result.
Frequently asked questions
Thermal foggers often use electricity to generate heat, so the same insecticides can usually be used in both. If you are unsure, read the label on your device to clarify which insecticides can be used.
Always read the label on your specific device to determine which types of insecticides can be used.
These insecticides can be used to kill a wide range of insects and other bugs, including fleas, flies, cockroaches, lice and ticks. Many insecticides are also harmful to non-target insects, such as bees and butterflies.
Fogging is not a permanent fix against outdoor mosquitoes. These products often have peak effectiveness for around 72 hours, after which point new mosquitoes will hatch. Repeated fogging will help to break the breeding cycle, however, so after a while you can reduce the frequency of treatment.
You can calculate how many bottles you will need by reading the product label to find out how many square feet it will cover. You will also need to measure the size of your yard. Once you have these measurements, you can calculate how many bottles of product you will need to fully treat your garden.
Insecticides are often harmful to other wildlife species. Most commercially available products have low toxicity for birds and mammals, but can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms. They are also often highly toxic to bees and other non-target insect species, such as butterflies.
It is not recommended to eat fruits or berries that have been sprayed with insecticides. Even products with low toxicity will probably impair the flavor of the fruit.