Bugged by mosquitoes? Here are some options

I know someone who lives downhill from neighbors who run their sprinklers too much. The water pools onto their property and the standing water is attracting mosquitoes. Can you all-knowing gurus at Since You Asked tell us what she can do to make the mosquitoes go away?

— Nicole A., Medford

This one should be right up our alley, Nicole. They don't call us the Muddy Tributary for nothing!

Because mosquitoes are involved in your friend's predicament, we started by contacting the folks with "Mosquito" in their address, Jackson County Vector Control District. Sure enough, according to Vector Control manager and biologist Jim Lunders, contacting the district would be a good place for your friend to start.

"Those are the types of larval production sources that are very easy for us to miss," Lunders said. "We have to find sources before we can treat them."

Lunders explained that Vector Control has a variety of tools at its disposal to reduce the mosquito population, including mosquito-eating fish and traditional pesticides. Its primary course of action is a bacteria.

"We have quite a few different products we use," he said. "It really depends on the habitat when you're making those decisions."

But everything starts by checking the waterbodies for mosquito pupae.

"Normally we would check the water to see if it's producing mosquitoes," he said.

Lunders said sometimes the topography of the land makes a drainage issue such as your friend's unavoidable.

"That's just the natural lay of the ground," he said.

We also checked with licensed irrigation contractor Luke Acosta, owner of Rolling Hills Lawn Service. If your friend's neighbor is willing to check with a contractor, there might be a way to reduce the water flow downhill without affecting anyone's lawn.

"The problem is there's standing water," Acosta said. "A really easy fix is to talk to your neighbor and get a check valve."

Acosta explained that the check valve prevents all the water from draining out of a sprinkler system after the water shuts off — and is particularly useful if the system is on a slope.

The primary caveat with a check valve is that the system needs to be drained at the end of the season.

"It's important when people put in a check valve that they drain the water at the end of the season," Acosta said. "If it freezes hard, it's going to break."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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