Rain barrels have become increasingly important in providing water for gardens and lawns, while at the same time conserving potable water. An unfortunate consequence of saving standing water in any container is that mosquitoes are drawn to it like magnets. They will emerge from hibernation and begin to breed in hot weather. The breeding cycle is fast - only seven to ten days for a mosquito to change from an egg into an adult. The good news is that there are ways that you can save water while at the same time preventing mosquitoes from breeding.
Always choose a container that is specifically created for saving water, like a rain barrel, instead of utilizing garbage cans or buckets. Rain barrels are especially designed to keep debris and bugs out of the water, and that helps stop mosquito invasions from occurring.
It's essential to get a mosquito-proof screen that will cover and seal your rain barrel. This screen is made of mesh that is extremely fine, most often 1/16 inch. If your screen is properly installed and rain barrel lid is secured, the possibility of mosquitoes breeding inside your rain barrel is greatly reduced. t's easy to make your own screen as well. You'll need one roll of flexible screening (36 inch wide), some twine, and a packet of short tie-downs. Cut a screen to cover the rain barrel top. Then, use twine and tie-downs to secure your flexible screen over the rain barrel top.
There are additional measures that will assist you in the prevention of mosquito breeding. Get a downspout diverter to direct water into either the normal drain system or the gutter rain barrel. When the rain barrel's full, just close the gate. Don't have a diverter? Make an overflow device for your barrel out of overflow hose or a PVC pipe.
Make sure that your rain barrel is located on the right surface that can soak up overflow water so it won't pool and establish a habitat for mosquitoes. Always check to make sure that any water that is pooling on top of your barrel is removed at least twice a week.
Your rain barrel must be checked regularly for any leaks or cracks. All seals and fittings must be intact to prevent any water from accumulating around the barrel base on the ground. Check frequently to make sure your pre-filters, barrel filters, downspouts and gutters are free of all debris. Leaves and other organic material can make a water dam that's perfect for larvae to grow.
Make sure that your rain barrel is drained and completely cleaned out twice a year at a minimum.
If, in spite of all your efforts, mosquito larvae are present, there are special larvicide products that are not harmful to plants and lawns. Time-release tablets called mosquito dunks will kill mosquito larvae. A tablespoon of vegetable oil in your barrel will form an oil slick on the surface which can stop mosquitoes from laying eggs, or stop their eggs from hatching.
Attach a transfer pump to your rain barrel. Pumps requiring an electrical outlet are available which can move approximately eight gallons of water a minute. If you have a 65 gallon rain barrel, that equates into about eight minutes of watering. Make sure that you turn the pump off when your rain barrel is empty.
The end result of your efforts will be mosquito-free water that is ideal for watering your lawn, flowers, shrubs, and trees.