News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

The Canyon Gardener: Low frog numbers may mean extra mosquitoes this summer

A couple days of rain recently were really appreciated. Now, we need to be aware of mosquitoes popping out of puddles, ponds and birdbaths. 

The early wet spring resulted in large hatches. 

Sub-freezing winter temperatures may have destroyed frog egg masses, resulting in no or low frog reproduction, according to field sampling reported by Oregon State University wildlife specialist Dana Sanchez. The mosquito larvae eating frogs have been largely absent.

Pesky mosquitoes find us by sensing the carbon dioxide we emit just by breathing. Cholesterol on our skin, lactic acid produced by our sweat glands, and uric acid lure mosquitoes to us. 

The more active we are – the more we breath and sweat – the easier targets we become. Covering up with lightweight clothing makes it more difficult for them to land, but we still have faces, hands and other exposed body areas they can get to.

 According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, we can minimize the mosquitoes in our yards and gardens with several actions. 

Minimize standing water around the home and irrigated areas. Eliminate water-filled containers sitting around outside. Manage water troughs and birdbaths with regular cleaning and replacement of the water periodically. Basically, don’t give them places to breed.

Native fish, amphibians, zooplankton and aquatic insects like dragonflies consume mosquito larvae. People with backyard ponds should encourage larvae-eating species to reduce mosquito populations.  

A naturally occurring biological control is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). It is safe around animals, birds, fish and amphibians, and is available as affordable “mosquito dunks” in retail garden stores.

Consider plants that mosquitoes tend to avoid. Some are edible or attractive in the yard or patio pots. Catnip, marigolds, peppermint, garlic, citronella, scented geraniums and lemon balm are a few odorous plants that insects, including mosquitoes, tend to avoid. Many of these plants have other appeals as well. 

Perhaps there is some truth to the myth that garlic repels bloodsuckers. Rubbing the scented leaves on skin (maybe just eat the garlic) might keep them from landing on us. Some of the plant scents are available in candle form for patios and outdoor eating areas.

For more information about mosquito control, go to and type mosquito in the search box. There are research-based articles about the benefits of bats, effects of abatement on pollinators, how to create a pond, and other interesting topics there. 

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