Take time to work on mosquito control this spring
Around 50 or so years ago, in my carefree youth, I had a mosquito for a pet. One night after riding my bike through the fog of a mosquito truck, I checked my pet and went to bed. I awoke the following morning to find that he chewed through the chain and got away.
This bring us to the spring of 2016 and thinking about the winter that never was. Usually, May is the official start of mosquito hunting season. This year the season has started a litter earlier. Remember the good old days when we just had the mosquito bites, Malaria and encephalitis to worry about: Now we have West Nile and the new one, Zika!
The one thing that we all must remember is there is no magic bullet for controlling mosquitoes. The best battle plan is to eliminate the environment that mosquitoes need to live and breed. Stop the larva by having no standing water. I cannot emphasize the importance of keeping your gutters clean. Keep the grass cut short, beds maintained and don’t over water your landscape. Do not forget to treat your bubblier and French drain lines along with rain barrels and saucers for the potted plants. You can treat these areas with a product called Mosquito Bits. Active ingredient is BT (bacillus thuringiensis) with the subspecies israelensis, or just call it BTI.
Promote habitats for the purple martins, bats and dragonflies. They don’t eat as much as you think but every little bit helps. Plant a variety of herbs (including citronella), as most have a repellant effect. Change outside lighting from white to yellow light bulbs or lenses, as they will not attract these flying vampires. Don’t forget the citronella Tiki torches and candles. They have a small effect on mosquitoes but you will get that island feeling. One of the new kids on the block is the very effective Patio Egg.
The use of sprays and granule repellents in the environment is an option. One of the best all-natural sprays is a cedar oil product called Yardsafe by the Cedarcide folks. Others include citronella, garlic and orange oil sprays. Synthetic sprays include permethrin, cypermethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. Granulated cedar and garlic work as repellents. Permethrin granules are used as broad-spectrum insecticides. The all-natural repellant sprays will last about a day but the granules will last substantially longer. Synthetics, both liquid and granulated will last from two days to a month. Length of effectiveness for all products will hinge on the weather.
The last resort is to hose yourself down with a repellant of some sort. Products that contain cedar and marigold oils are on the all-natural side. Synthetics include Deet, permethrin and believe or it not Avon’s Skin so Soft. For better or worse, products containing Deet are the most effective.