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August 2011
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Black-eyed Susans bloom along I-70 in Indianapolis

'Goldsturm' black-eyed Susan. Photo courtesy PerennialResource.com

Native black-eyed Susans cover patches of I-70 with their golden orange flowers. For more info about these great plants and their role in the ecosystem, check out my blog at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s Website.

Here’s an excerpt:

Along I-70 from Indianapolis International Airport to downtown, the black-eyed Susans ‘Goldsturm’ have begun blooming again, revived by the recent soaking rains.

For several weeks before the rains though, these summer perennials look fried, if not dead. But even in their decrepit condition, the plants served a purpose beyond beauty.

Wet or dry, mosquitoes thrive in the landscape

Standing water in the landscape attracts egg-laying mosquitoes. Photo courtesy Purdue University

You’d think that as dry as it has been, that the mosquito threat would be reduced.

However, depending on the species, mosquitoes lay eggs in two ways: direct hatching or delayed hatching. Knowing the life cycle of these blood-sucking, disease-carrying insects is key to controlling them in the landscape.

Most of us are familiar with direct hatching, where female mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. That’s why we dump water from saucers under pots in the garden, buckets, tubs, birdbaths or other receptacles. (For birdbaths, replenish the water every few days to serve the birds and keep mosquitoes from hatching.)

It takes two to three days for the eggs to hatch in the water and begin the first of four larval stages before becoming pupae as their final transformation. Within a week to 10 days, adult mosquitoes emerge, eat blood meals, mate and start the process all over again.

With delayed hatching, mosquitoes lay eggs on soil that is moist, such as low areas in the yard or crevices around trees. Some eggs will winter over in the soil to be awakened with spring rains. In summer, the eggs must go through a dry period before they hatch. Eggs in the soil may remain viable for days to years. Those that breed in the soil may do so up four to six times a season. To help control for these mosquitoes, fill in low spots in the landscapes.

In ponds and water gardens, use a natural pesticide, Mosquito Dunks is one brand, which is safe around fish and birds.

When you think about all the human and animal diseases carried by mosquitoes, you wonder what their role is in the environment. Sometimes, creatures are there primarily to feed others. Birds, fish, dragonflies and bats regularly dine on mosquitoes. For more info, download Purdue University’s  Mosquitoes in and around the Home.