Living in Florida has its pluses; like much lower cost of living compared to a state like California, where I grew up, and Florida does not levy huge taxes on its citizens like California does, either. Two primary reasons why I eventually settled here.
One of the things I quickly learned while moving here are the effects of an abandoned neighborly swimming pool. Or to paraphrase; a pool of pests.
This brings the frogs (feed on mosquitoes), which brings the water-moccasins (venomous snakes, which feed on the frogs). The frogs croak loudly whenever they are disturbed, at any hour of the day.
How quickly a swimming pool is turned into a huge mess
The pool actually came with the house—it had been installed by a previous owner in the early 1990s. I don’t know why people build swimming pools here when there is a world-class beach a few miles to our south, but they do. But I digress..
It was an algae, mosquito, and frog-filled mess when we got it, and required refurbishment. Pools need constant attention and maintenance—it seems like more hours are spent fretting over the pool (my wife’s department) than are spent swimming in it. 🙂
We live in a quiet neighborhood in Pensacola, Florida. There are about 54 houses in our neighborhood, and about six have in-ground swimming pools. Our house is one of those; only the pool was built by a previous owner of our property.
We did not buy the property because of the pool, but it was an added selling point (even though it required major refurbishment).
Oh, it does not take but a few weeks of neglect to turn a swimming pool into a green mess.
I have seen it with neighbors’ pools after they move away. Once the chlorine dissipates, the algae grows, and then the mosquitoes come and breed.
The pool was in really bad shape when we acquired the property. It had not been maintained for many months and was filled with rain-water that was green with dense algae.
The stagnant water provided excellent breeding habitat for mosquitoes, whose larvae had a good food source in the algae growing in the water.
With no chlorine or circulation in the water the mosquito larvae thrived in the pool. Once mosquitoes became established in the stagnant pool water, the frogs came.
The small frogs had a ready food source in the mosquitoes buzzing around the pool, and the stagnant water also provided a habitat for the frogs to breed in.
The tadpoles would hatch and feed on the algae and detritus in the water, grow-up into adult frogs, and then feed on the mosquitoes and other flying insects that frequented the water.
The frogs were noisy. Even the slightest disturbance would incite them to croak very loudly in a cascading cacophony of sound—at any hour of the day.
With the frogs and mosquitoes established in the pool, an additional animal was drawn to this ecosystem—a snake. It was either a black-racer or a cottonmouth moccasin (a venomous snake found in the southeast U.S.), and it was feeding on the frogs.
We did not waste any time having the pool drained and refurbished when we bought the house—mosquitoes would swarm over any human standing near the stagnant pool, so we had to do something to correct the situation.
Here’s how we got rid of our pool of pests
The first thing we did was oust the organisms that were thriving in the pool while it was defunct.
We started by tossing Mosquito Dunk rings into the pool water. You can purchase these rings at either Lowe’s or Home Depot or online at Amazon for mosquito control.
Mosquito Dunks release a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (otherwise known as “BT”), which attacks mosquito larvae and kills them before they can become adult flies.
We threw Bacillus thuringiensis rings into the pool next door (before the new neighbors moved in-they are good about keeping it up now) to kill the mosquito larvae. This took away the food source for the frogs, so they moved on. I don’t know what happened to the snake that lived in the pool skimmer.
BT is a very effective natural insecticide for mosquito control, and once deployed, Mosquito Dunks are effective for up to 30 days. Mosquito Dunks can be used in any stagnant, standing water to control mosquitoes.
Once the mosquitoes were no longer prevalent in the water, the food source for the frogs was disrupted, and they decided to leave. I don’t know what happened to the snake, but I think it left once its food source was gone (the frogs).
A proven method to get rid of those (sometimes huge) water moccasins swimming in your pool as well as taking up residence in the garage, under the deck, and in the yard is spreading granular sulfur around the pool.
- (for this purpose people sometimes use soil acidifier which commonly is a mixture of elemental sulfur and gypsum yet will work too. Another option is to use snake repellent granules such as those by Snake Shield.)
Another way to repel snakes is by using moth balls. However, contrary to granular sulfur which is odor free, mothballs, especially when in contact with rain smell like hell. Thus they may repel more than just amphibious creatures.
Our pool refurbishment
We hired a pool company to refurbish the pool, which entailed draining the fetid water from it, replacing the pool-liner, and checking out the pump and filtration assembly; replacing any parts that were worn out.
We also had a screen enclosure installed which is a more costly option than for instance a pool cover or a pool mosquito net yet it’s proven worth it.
The refurbishment was not cheap, but was way less expensive than installing a pool from scratch. Within a week of commencing refurbishment, the pool was like new again, with clear blue water like you see in glossy magazines.
We have since learned that pool owners have a very fine line to walk, as even minor neglect can cause your pool to turn green, and start reverting back to the frogs and mosquitoes.
How to properly maintain your pool and keep it pest-free
You must keep your chemicals (chlorine, mainly) adjusted perfectly to keep algae from growing.
We also regularly use Kem-Tek Algaecide 60% Concentrate which is copper-free so there’s no risk on staining the pool.
You have to keep it vacuumed and brushed, as wind readily blows dirt, detritus, and leaves into the pool, which will start to accumulate at the bottom of the liner.
The sun causes much evaporation to occur, so you will need to add water every few days.
You also need to periodically back-flush the filter so the filter-sand stays clean. In all, many more hours seem to be spent maintaining the pool, rather than swimming in it.
Why you should think twice before getting a pool
If I had my druthers, I would do something more useful with the pool, like do catfish aquaculture in it or something…..
I once considered that it would be very cool to one day turn the pool into a catfish aquaculture operation—I had taken a course in aquaculture when I was studying in graduate school.
You would need a good filtration system, a way to aerate the water, and it would have to be free of all chemicals. I don’t know what kind of permits are required for this, or if it would even be allowed in a neighborhood. It is kind of a nifty thought, however.
Anyway, if you ever thought pool-ownership is cool, there is a lot of work and expense associated with pools.
I have oft wondered why people in Pensacola build pools, when a world-class beach lies on the Gulf of Mexico, just a few miles to our south.
We do not want to see the mosquitoes and frogs to return to our pool, so we gladly bear the expense and do whatever work is required to keep the pool in picture-perfect condition.