I was reminded this week, by a national report, of the over abundance of mosquitoes this year due to the wet winter and even wetter spring in the northern third of the U.S. and Canada.
There are 2,500 different species of mosquitoes worldwide, with 150 in the United States. A single female can lay 200 eggs at a time. They can fly considerable distances (up to 20 miles), but most just hang around their birthplace. Only the female takes blood, the males feed on plant nectar.
Here’s a helpful to-do list to deal with this major irritant:
Keep the population down:
– Mosquitoes do not develop in shrubs or grass. They need water to complete their life cycle. Look for any sitting water around your house. This is where the mosquito breeds — so move it along, or dry the area.
– Get rid of piles of leaves, they get and stay wet and are a breeding ground for thousands of bugs.
– Make sure air flows through your property. Wind keeps the pests away. It may mean thinning the woods or opening up some areas to sunlight.
– Hardware stores sell mosquito dunks, which kill mosquito larvae. They are environmentally safe. Each dunk treats up to 100 square feet of surface water. They are inexpensive, can be tossed into standing water, rain gutters, flowerpots or anywhere water may pool. I’d recommend using them early to prevent breeding.
OK, they are out there, so what to do?
– Put up a couple bat houses on your property — high up in a tree. The average bat consumes between 4,000 and 8,000 mosquitoes each night.
– Dragonflies just love to munch on mosquitoes. I have noticed hundreds around my camp. If you need to attract them, put bamboo sticks around the perimeter of your yard and they will sit there waiting for their next meal.
– Rub Bounce fabric softener sheets onto your skin. Just wipe and go. This is especially good for babies.
– Planting marigolds around your home is a natural way to reduce bugs. They give off an odor that insects don’t like.
– If you use a commercial product with DEET, be sure that you don’t spray it on children, in enclosed areas, or on your face. It works, but be careful.
– I have been in Haiti twice, and both times I used the Off Clip-on repellent. It clips onto your belt and releases an effective deterrent. I have yet to be bitten while others were loaded with bites.
– From a reader – put some water in a white dinner plate and add a couple drops of Lemon Fresh Joy dish detergent. Set your dish on your porch, patio or other outdoor area. Not sure what attracts them — the lemon smell, the color or what — but mosquitoes flock to it. It works within a 10-foot radius.
If you have a special way you deal with mosquitoes, share your technique below!