Once you notice mosquito larvae, the clock is ticking to deal with the problem. Mosquito larvae can pop up in a puddle within days. You may be able to kill mosquito larvae with household bleach or vinegar, but be aware that these are folk remedies with little or no scientific support, and neither is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for this application or registered for use as a mosquito control product.
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Larvae Lead to Problems
Mosquitoes can lay eggs in an inch of water. Eggs hatch and turn into larvae, which turn into pupae within five days. The pupae turn into adults in two to three days and are ready to feast.
Mosquito larvae look like semitranslucent worms, and they are easy to spot. The pupae look like small black bands rippling through the water. Household bleach and apple cider vinegar may kill the larvae and pupae before they have a chance to mature into adults.
Get Rid of Standing Water
Standing water is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. It doesn't have to be a deep or large pool. Stay on top of water leaks or areas that puddle after a heavy rain and remove standing water whenever possible. A small puddle in a lawn from a broken sprinkler or a pool of standing water can breed mosquitoes in about a week.
For outdoor water features with standing water that you can't remove, a mosquito dunk can be dropped into the water. Mosquito dunks contain bacteria that are toxic to mosquito larvae but harmless to kids, pets and wildlife.
Vinegar to Kill Mosquito Larvae
Apple cider vinegar emits an odor that may repel mosquitoes. You can try using it in a spray bottle or poured straight into a puddle or a container of standing water. Don't use it in a koi pond or other water feature with fish. It can have an adverse effect on the health of the fish. And remember that your backyard birds drink from and bathe in small puddles of water, so using vinegar is not ecologically responsible way to combat mosquito larvae.
Bleach to Kill Mosquito Larvae
Chlorine bleach should be your last-ditch effort. Using mosquito dunks, which are formulated to kill mosquito larvae, is the more responsible choice. Bleach can kill off grass and healthy vegetation in the garden, and it can also harm pets and wildlife if they ingest it or eat vegetation that has been caught up in the diluted stream of bleach used outdoors. Don't use bleach in puddles, pools or water features that kids, pets or wildlife may access.
- Illinois Department of Public Health: Mosquitoes and Disease
- Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association: The Use of Household Bleach to Control Aedes aegypti
- Journal of the American Control Association: Evaluation of Household Bleach as an Ovicide for the Control of Aedes aegypti
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Controlling Mosquitoes at the Larval Stage