Win The War Against Mosquitoes
Summer has returned to North America. Flowers are blooming, temperatures are climbing, days are lengthening, and-in most parts of the United States-bugs are breeding. While not all insects are harmful (honeybees, anyone?), many are pests that can bite, ruin plants and crops, or carry disease. For most people, the mosquito is the all-star summer pest: a nighttime bloodsucker that can ruin your camping trip or backyard barbeque. Here are some quick tips for protecting yourself and your family from mosquitoes and their bites.
1. Get Rid of Standing Water
If you don’t want mosquitoes to live on your property, don’t make space for them to breed on your property. This means eliminating any sources of standing water, such as in bird baths, garbage cans, flower pots, wading pools, watering cans, etc. Mosquitoes will mate and lay eggs around sources of water, meaning that you will have to deal with legions of young blood-suckers once the eggs hatch.
If you are purposely collecting water for gardening purposes, or if you have a pond on your property, you can purchase “floats” or “dunks” that release bacteria into the water. The bacteria kill the mosquito eggs, and often black fly larvae as well. Obviously, you won’t want to use these products in any water you plan to drink.
Note: Most chlorine-treated swimming pools are inhospitable to mosquitoes. Just make sure you keep the chlorine and other chemicals at appropriate levels to discourage them from breeding.
2. Screen Them Out
Mosquitoes don’t generally live or breed inside a house, but they will invade to find their favorite food: your blood. So it’s worth it to make sure you have barriers in place. Properly maintained window screens and screen doors go a long way towards keeping mosquitoes out of your home. Check for holes in the screens and gaps between the screen and the window frame.
mosquito netting can also make a difference to your comfort at night. In developing countries, simply distributing mosquito nets and encouraging them to be put up around beds has slowed the spread of diseases like malaria and West Nile encephalitis. While these diseases are very rare in the US, it’s proven that the nets do cut down the number of bites people receive while sleeping. This can be especially helpful if you have a baby or toddler in the house-in the rare event that disease-carrying mosquitoes are present in your area, babies and young children would be the hardest hit if they were infected by a bite.
3. Time Your Day Right
Mosquitoes are most active during the cooler daylight hours-in the early morning and in the late evening. While this is inconvenient for morning exercisers and hosts of twilight garden parties, most people can plan picnics, weddings, and other summer outdoor events to avoid the mosquito rush hours. If you have to be outdoors then, you can always
4. Use Personal Protection
Light, long-sleeved clothes and mosquito repellent lotions go a long way towards preventing bites. If you’re wary of the ingredients in commercial repellents, there are natural alternatives, such as catnip oil, more unusual alternatives, such as rubbing dryer sheets all over yourself, and tiring alternatives-mosquitoes are less likely to hassle you if you’re active and sweating. If you’re dining alfresco, citronella candles, incense, and (again) mosquito nets can help you avoid being pestered.
5. Secure The Perimeter
Sometimes your mosquito situation can be so dire that chemical warfare is justified. Backyard foggers and sprays are very effective at killing and repelling mosquitoes. Just make sure you’ve taken steps to keep them from coming back by breeding. Also, choose your sprays and foggers wisely: the ingredients in some pesticides are downright harmful not only to you and your family, but also to friendly bugs and animals that live in your yard and garden. Your neighbor’s cat and the ladybugs that keep your roses free from aphids don’t deserve to be collateral damage in your fight to be mosquito-free.
Fortunately, the companies that make domestic pesticides have found safer ingredients for their potions in recent years-ingredients that don’t skimp on effectiveness. Black Flag, America’s oldest pesticide manufacturer, has a range of Backyard Foggers that minimize your yard’s exposure to harmful chemicals, but show no mercy to mosquitoes. Their Mosquito Spray and Mist can also be used to treat bushes, shrubs, tall grass, and other places where mosquitos might nest. With these products, you can enjoy your summer-not spend it scratching bites.
Author: Kate Whitely