Tough on mosquitoes, and tough on the causes of mosquitoes.
February 21, 2010 1:05 AM   Subscribe

I've spent quite a bit of time and money on making the mosquitoes in my home leave us alone when we sleep. But it now occurs to me to ask -- where exactly are the mosquitoes in my house coming from?

My family is driven crazy by mosquitoes in the night, unless we use some kind of repellent.

I live in a first-floor unit. We're about twenty feet off the ground. As far as I know, mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. But there isn't any stagnant water in my home, is there? I mean, there's the drain in the shower, and in the bath and the sink. But those things get used pretty often. Surely there isn't time for mosquitoes to breed in there overnight, between the last use of the bathroom before we go to bed and the first when we wake up in the morning?

And it's not like my neighbours have swamps in their gardens. There aren't even many gardens, and there isn't so much as a fishpond as far as I can see.

Sometimes I see mosquitoes in the hallway of our building, which is dry as dust and has literally nothing for them to feed on except old phone books.

So, do they simply come from far away? Do I have to accept them as a fact of life? Or could there be some mosquito breeding ground near us I could identify and shut down?
posted by AmbroseChapel to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We had a similar problem and it turned out to be both the vents and a pot containing some basil plants. Its soil was damp enough for mosquitoes to lay eggs in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 AM on February 21, 2010

Most mosquitoes will only fly about a half mile (in N America) so it's something fairly close by.
posted by fshgrl at 1:34 AM on February 21, 2010

Well, the mosquitoes in my ex-home used to come from a bowl of chili on the bottom of the dish stack in the kitchen sink, but I presume your home doesn't have that.

I don't know about Australia, which I naively assume to be a relatively dry place, but here in rainy Europe stagnant water really is everywhere - on roofs, in rain pipes, gutters etc. It doesn't take very much to sustain mosquito larvae.

Blazecock: How did you verify this "breeding in soil" thing? I've never heard of it before and it sounds slightly scary.
posted by themel at 1:36 AM on February 21, 2010

When we blocked the vents, there were still mosquitoes. Once we removed the plants and threw away the soil, no more mosquitoes.

It could have been pure coincidence and there was some other cause, but those were the only sources of stagnant water that we knew of.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:46 AM on February 21, 2010

Gutters that don't drain adequately are a common reason. I've noticed here that patches of English Ivy seem to support them, I presume because of tiny pools on tops of leaves in the shade, but I really don't know. You might need to be creative to hunt down the stagnant water. There are mosquito-attracting traps that emit CO2 and heat that seem to work pretty well, maybe you could place one outside and distract some of them.
posted by Red Loop at 4:24 AM on February 21, 2010

Singapore runs a lot of ant-mosquito campaigns to prevent the spread of dengue. Although we've been fortunate (so far) not to have the Aedes mosquito here in Sydney, the advice is still sound:

Potential mosquito breeding sites

Places to check in an apartment

How to prevent mosquitos from breeding

In Sydney, I've found mosquitoes breeding in a vase of lucky bamboo, down the drain of a sink I didn't use very often, and in the neighbour's clogged gutter. I guess we should be glad they're only an irritation, and not a health risk.
posted by embrangled at 5:38 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and bromeliads! A colleague brought a few of these to the office once and within days we had with plagues of mosquitoes breeding in the water that's stored near the plants' stems. The employer banned pot-plants soon after that.
posted by embrangled at 5:43 AM on February 21, 2010

Oh, and bromeliads! A colleague brought a few of these to the office once and within days we had with plagues of mosquitoes breeding in the water that's stored near the plants' stems. The employer banned pot-plants soon after that.

All you have to do is flush the bromeliads with water every few days. But any employer who would ban all potted plants regardless of whether or not they have water holding capabilities is unlikely to listen to sense.

We had a terrible mosquito year in our apartment when the radiator was quietly dripping into the basement below, providing a shallow but warm breeding spot. Now we have them because the landlord seems to not understand that a perennially clogged gutter is bad for many reasons.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:24 AM on February 21, 2010

I bet there's a tiny puddle of standing water somewhere. In a vent, in the basement of the building, in a drop-ceiling (I watched baby mosquitos hatch out of my ceiling in an old apartment, it was like a horror movie with fog that turns into pestilence), behind a wall from a barely-dripping pipe.
posted by desuetude at 11:33 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for your help. And a me(t)a culpa for not searching previous questions.

That Singapore website has already put me on to one, rather gross, possibility, that they're breeding in the base of our toilet. And the traps sound like a fun project for the family.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:07 PM on February 21, 2010

No worries, friend.
posted by metaculpa at 4:21 PM on February 21, 2010

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