Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water

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Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water

With spring weather and mosquito season coming soon in the United States, the Zika virus – and the mosquitoes that carry the virus – may be a major concern. Zika is currently affecting more than 30 countries and territories in the Americas and Pacific Islands. Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. People and communities can take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes in their homes and communities to protect themselves from Zika.

How Does Water Help Mosquitoes Breed?

Aedes aegypti is known as a “container-breeding mosquito” because it likes to lay eggs in and around standing water. Studies show that female mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in water that collects or is stored in manmade containers.

Water-filled bioassay trays were used to attract resident female mosquitos to deposit their eggs, where they hatched, and from which the larvae were collected.Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs on the walls of water-filled containers. Eggs stick to containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off. The eggs can survive when they dry out—up to 8 months. When it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week.

Reduce mosquitoes at home

Here are a couple of steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding around your home.

Remove standing water

Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Items in and around people’s homes can collect water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as

  • Vases
  • pet water bowls
  • flowerpot saucers
  • discarded tires
  • buckets
  • pool covers
  • birdbaths
  • trash cans, and
  • rain barrels.

These actions can help reduce the number of mosquitoes around areas where people live.

Follow safe water storage tips

If water must be stored, tightly cover storage containers to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside and laying eggs.

Reduce mosquitoes in the community

Communities also can take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes and the chances of spreading disease.

Build systems that distribute safe water

If people have access to clean and safe water in their communities, they will not need to store it in and around their homes. Research has shown that when community-wide distribution systems are built, the number of mosquitoes decreases, because water is not being stored near areas where people live.

Improve sanitation

When water is contaminated with organic matter (for example, human or animal waste, grasses, and leaves), the chances that mosquito larvae will survive may increase because contaminated matter provides food for larvae to eat. Sanitation departments and wastewater treatment plants remove organic wastes and treat water with chlorine or other disinfectants. These activities may decrease mosquito populations and, simultaneously, prevent diarrheal diseases.

*Basic sanitation includes access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste, and the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection, industrial/hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene* (WASH) are critical to keep people healthy and prevent the spread of many different disease, including Zika. World Water Day recognizes the importance of safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene in the health of our world’s population.

Learn more about World Water Day at www.unwater.org/worldwaterday and visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global for more information about CDC’s efforts to ensure global access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene.

For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

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45 comments on “Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This information should be broadcast in conjunction with network news about the Zika virus, and the networks should be concerned enough to contribute the air time! Thank you very much.

    We have had a problem with stagnant water up and down the street where I live for about 9 weeks now. There are thousands of mosquitos all over and the street and the state refuses to do anything, we keep getting excuses. I live at 4931 W. Coolidge ST. in phoenix Arizona. Please help us get this problem resolved before people start getting sick from being bit by the mosquitos. Thank you.

    With spring around the corner, is there a specific time they lay eggs, i have 2 neighbors with pool covers with standing rain/snow water on them. I’ve already noticed mosquitoes here in late march due to a warmer winter. I know summer is the primary season but what can we do early in the year to prevent the spread of mosquitoes other than removing standing water. Thanks.

    Get mosquito nets for sleeping. Try a few different repellents.
    Additionally you may like to try tea tree oil shampoo, available on Amazon, which is insect repellent, neem soap, which stops nearly all insects from biting, and is larvicidal in grey water at 18 ppm.
    It is the main soap used for washing clothes and people across India, Pakistan, and planted as street trees across Africa. 80% of locally made soap in India is neem oil based.
    Washing your hands washes off repellent, so its useful to have soap that reapplies a deterrent to mosquitoes.
    Every tree planted in your yard and street will soak up standing water, if sandy soil cuttings of mulberry tree are shallow rooted, soft, won’t rip up curbs, but will soak up water like crazy. Bonus, fresh fruit in spring.
    Waterlillies are larvicidal in ponds, add local breeds of small fish that eat mosquito larvae to every pond around town.
    In many places in India you are not allowed to kill any living thing, including mosquitoes, therefore it is necessary to use the traditional natural prevention strategies like neem soap, which is cheap and ubiquitous. CDC and WHO promote everything but traditional remedies which have worked for thousands of years.
    Try everything and see what works for you.

    This is the first time ever I read about the Zika virus… I just can’t get how I only found out about it now. Shouldn’t it have made the news? Or have it?

    We have rented a duplex for almost 4 years. When we moved in there was a old fish pond behind the neighbor’s side with stagnant standing water in it. Hasn’t been in use for yrs. It has algae in it and mosquito larvae galore. Every spring and summer we have a severe mosquito problem. When going outside were eaten alive. They even get in our house. Management is very aware of the pond and every year they say they’re gonna take care of it and don’t. What suggestions would you give us? Very concerned about this on going problem and health and safety of my kids,grandson, and other children that play in my yard.

    I garden and I need my three rain barrels to water my summer crops and flowers. I can’t keep them tightly closed because I need them to collect rain and I use the water nearly everyday. Can I add soap or something else to the barrels to deter mosquitoes without damaging my plants? I want to use water responsibly, grow my plants and discourage biting insects; I want it all.

    You can use larvicides to treat large containers of standing water, like rain barrels, that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out. You can get larvicides for this in tablet form (Mosquito dunks®) at home improvement stores. Always follow the instructions on the package.

    I am originally from Nigeria where mosquitoes tend to be a constant threat to everyone. Mosquitoes repellent is a big business since no one like those bugs. My grand created her own by drying the skin of oranges and using them as a repellent. I don’t recall if it worked. This is an informative post regarding Zika virus. I though they are all just called mosquitoes, had never heard of it till i read this post. I thought i knew a lot about mosquitoes but never knew that mosquito can survive while dry for up to 8 month and once wet will hatch and become adults in 2 weeks. You suggested simple but easy ways of preventing mosquitoes such as removing standing water to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs, closing storage water containers tightly if storage is necessary, and i also like your advise on sanitation. We tend to forget that good sanitary environment also prevent mosquitoes.

    When I first heard of the Zika virus I didn’t pay much attention to it. One (1) because I am not a pregnant woman and because I am not in an area where the Zika virus is currently prominent, how ever with the increased talk about the virus I am curious if affects a persons future pregnancy as well. Especially if she is infected and currently not pregnant. This blog does provide some informative information regarding the eggs of the aedes aegypti mosquito. Knowing that there eggs can survive for 8 months without water and being dry and then hatch within two weeks once it is exposed to water . This may create a huge risk for area that may have the virus but currently experiencing a drought, who can potentially encounter a rain storm. It sounds as thought it will be very difficult to control them if the virus ever affects the United States.

    Why isn’t this very important information included in the main CDC recommendation page? Are we waiting for an epidemic of Zika before we actually tell people about these simple preventive steps?

    Is the Zika virus transmitted down through generations of mosquitoes? In other words, if an infected mosquito lays eggs, and these eventually hatch into larvae and then adult mosquitoes, will those adults themselves be virus carriers capable of infecting humans?

    CDC has guidelines to prevent Zika that include removing standing water. Montgomery County,MD has done nothing to provide covers for the plastic recycling bins. When it rains, there is standing water and water in all of the recycling items. Pick-up can be longer than one week giving enough time to breed ! The County and the State have by useless in this case. Where is the government oversight?

    Spread of Zika virus from an infected female mosquito to her eggs has not been well studied, but researchers think the likelihood is generally very low.

    My neighbor has a pool with no cover, I live in New Jersey, is it mandatory to cover pools?

    Can a “garden variety” mosquito that bites a zika-infected person and then, although not becoming infected itself, become a carrier to another person it bites?

    We have a small turtle pond with three live turtles. The turtles are omnivores. Should I be worried about the Zika virus? I have never seen any larvae in the pond, because I believe the turtles must eat them.

    Has there been any studies to show dunks kill Zika mosquitoes larvae? This is an important thing to know here in Florida. I use Dunks in my little pond as well as remove larvae with a strainer. It has worked for me, I tap them out on a solid surface & lizards come to eat them. Is this a bad idea? Perhaps I should drown them in bleach. Can lizards spread Zika? Reading eggs can survive dry is information I never heard. Will a bleach solution kill larvea & eggs? Do eggs survive in sandy soil? Part of control should be funding to offer free or low cost Dunks. Many people say they are too expensive & low income folks for sure can’t buy them. Long ago Pinellas County used to help with fireant control products,but funding cut backs has reduced County Extention Services as well as qualified Specialists. I heard on CNN Zika can stay in your body for 2 months but no mention of how Zika is detected and no info on any progress for a vaccine. Poster Michael on 7-30 poses a good question that needs an answer.I put my outdoor recycle bin in another larger bin with a top & it’s easy to remove water that collects on top. People have grandchildren & children have to be concerned about their future to have healthy babies. I do not believe Zika will stay in Florida, think of killer bees spreading. People will travel everywhere & we are not being cautious about Brazil and other places, Florida tourists as well as cruise ships will return home everywhere. I hope emergency funding will be available to help research & control this serious problem. Thank you CDC.

    The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) lay eggs near water. Studies show that larvicides, including mosquito dunks, are effective in controlling larvae.

    There is no evidence that Zika virus is spread to people from contact with lizards. Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus).

    It is recommended that larvicides be used to kill young mosquitoes (larvae). Larvicides should be used to treat standing water that cannot be covered, dumped or removed, and will not be used for drinking. Please follow product label instructions when using larvicides. For more information on controlling mosquitoes at home, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/controlling-mosquitoes-at-home.html

    Would changing the water temperature where the mosquito eggs are laid affect their development and possibly contribute to stopping the diseased mosquito population? (For example changing temp on standing water such as a pond)

    Mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus lay eggs near standing water. Changing the water temperature is not an effective way to control mosquitoes. The best way to kill young mosquitoes and prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs around your home is to once a week empty and scrub, cover or throw out any items that hold water, like tires and flowerpot saucers. You can also use larvicides to kill young mosquitoes in large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.

    Zika is spread primarily by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), which is found in many areas of the continental United States. These mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus, and they can then spread Zika to other people through bites. Mosquitoes must be infected with the Zika virus to spread it.

    I have a birdbath in my yard. My neighbor is concerned so she will not go out on her patio. I not only check the birdbath every day but once a week it is thoroughly cleaned out, bleached and refilled. Since we have only had rain 3 times in the past 35 days, what is the chance that we will get the mosquitoes here. We live in Melbourne FLorida but not near any lakes or ponds.

    Simple web search of mosquito larve ballast water will turn up information on mosquito
    Larvae in ballast water

    It seems like the need for Aedes aegypti larvae to breed in water could be exploited as a weakness. People could put out, and monitor daily, containers of standing water. When mosquito larvae show up, they could be destroyed by, for example, dumping out onto dry pavement. In this way, hundreds or thousands of potential adult mosquitoes can be killed quickly, easily, and without insecticides. Water collection sources that cannot be easily monitored should, as recommended, be kept drained. In summer, in southern Florida, it rains almost every day. If you simply eliminate obvious water collection sources, my guess is that the mosquitoes will simply find less obvious ones. This approach would require that people regularly monitor these intentional collection sources but I think the threat of contraction of the Zika virus provides a strong incentive to do so. Incidentally, the collection containers need not be unsightly but could be, for example, attractive vases.

    Several important and intelligent questions have been posted here. Where shall we find the answers? Also, I live in a community with a pond behind my home. The fountain in the pond has not worked for months, due to low water levels. All the other ponds’ fountains work. I consider this pond to be standing water. Management tells me that we just have to “hope for rain” because this particular pond is not deep enough. This is not acceptable to me, esp. considering the HOA fees I pay. There does not seem to be much information about mosquito breeding in bodies of water vs. small containers. Any advice? Thanks.

    My neighbor Next Door has a shallow pond man-made it is about 6 foot by 3 foot water has been totally green 4 a year he will not do a thing about it he does not live there it is a rental buy season and the mosquitoes get thick what do we do

    Mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus lay eggs near standing water, which includes fountains and ponds. You can use larvicides to kill young mosquitoes in large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out. When used according to product label instructions, larvicides do not harm people, pets, or the environment. For more information on larvicides, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/larvicides-factsheet.pdf.

    First, call your local health department or mosquito abatement district to report the number of mosquitoes around your residence. They will be able to follow up directly with the homeowner and treat the water. In the meantime, take steps to prevent mosquito bites and control mosquitoes inside and outside your home. You should use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain one of the following: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. You can also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use and repair screens on windows and doors, use air conditioning when available, and once a week empty and scrub, cover or throw out any items that hold water, such as tires or buckets. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html.

    i purchased some property just down the road from a waste water treatment plant there are holding ponds several of them just about a quarter of a mile from my house the Mosquitos are so bad that it looks like smoke or something is on fire when you drive up the road it is so bad that no one drives down the road in the evening
    what who can I contact to get something done
    about this situation
    I know it has to be a health issue because of where they breed and are hatched

    I have heard that Zika can survive in as little as a tablespoon of standing water. Is there any truth to that statement??

    With the rainy season about to arrive and 45 confirmed Zika cases this year, more than any other county in Florida, Miami-Dade commissioners will consider changing the county’s legal code on Tuesday to empower mosquito control workers during public health emergencies to act within two days instead of the current five to clear empty containers and other breeding grounds for the disease-spreading insects when located on private property. He urged residents to drain and cover flower pots, tires, jugs and other containers capable of collecting water and breeding the mosquito species that is the primary transmitter of Zika virus, Aedes aegytpi, which is endemic to South Florida.

    It sounds like you can’t have a bird bath / fountain any more unless you are prepared to empty and scrub it once a week.

    Some clarification of the term “standing water” would be useful. A lot of people have water fountains where the water is pumped through the fountain. Are those “moving water” like a river, or are they more like the stationary water that sits in a trash bin? There are solar powered fountains for attracting birds. When the sun is shining, a pump raises the water to a higher dish from which it flows to lower dishes. But at night or if it’s cloudy, the pump won’t run and the water movement stops. I don’t know whether the larvicides mentioned in the article would cause harm to birds drinking from such a fountain. The article says no harm to pets if used properly. But my instinct is just not to get a bird bath now rather than get something to attract birdsthat then requires me to dump a bunch of chemicals down the drain. Too bad.

    Thank you for your question. With spring weather and mosquito season coming soon (or already here) in the United States, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus need to be controlled, even if Zika virus is not present in an area. Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs near standing water. Fountains or other water features that continuously circulate water are not a place where mosquitoes lay eggs. Birdbaths are on the list of items that hold standing water and are a place where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can lay eggs, which is why CDC recommends that once a week, containers that hold water be emptied and scrubbed, turned over, covered, or thrown out. Add larvicides to standing water that cannot be covered, dumped, or drained. When used according to label instructions, larvicides do not harm people, pets, or the environment.
    You can find more information at https://www.cdc.gov/zika/vector/integrated_mosquito_management.html

    You say the aegypti mosquito lay there eggs near water… but the concern is their presence in standing water.
    Do you know at what stag they move to water?
    Are they present in ponds and swimming pools?
    Would a device that could create a current in a pond or pool be effective in reducing the mosquito population carrying the virus.

    I live in Lehigh Acres, FL, Lee County and there is a lot next to mine that has free standing water all the time in warmer months due to our frequent rains. How can I get someone to do something about it?? I cannot even go outside they are all over me!!!

    The city that I live in allows people to collect untreated and uncovered containers. How often should the containers be emptied and thoroughly cleaned out to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes?

    Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water. Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. Use larvicides to kill larvae in large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.

    I’ve heard that you can stop mosquito larvae from maturing in a rain barrel by agitating the water every couple of days. I also heard you could dump and replace water in a bird bath (or similar) every couple of days to stop the larvae from maturing. Are those things not true? You need to be able to scrub it out?

    I have just discovered live larvae in my water fountain which has water constantly circulating, it has never been turned off and there were larvae in there, bobbing around in the currents, not only mosquito larvae but also some really tiny worm type larvae. I am really confused I thought they didn’t live in running water? Does anyone have any idea how this can be?

    Thanks for your question and for reading the Public Health Matters blog. For more information on how to control mosquitoes at home, visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/controlling-mosquitoes-at-home.html. Should you have an additional questions, please contact CDC-INFO. CDC-INFO (https://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

    My neighbors gutters is stopped up and the water has been standing for years. Is this dangerous?

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Page last reviewed: March 23, 2016
Page last updated: March 23, 2016