Every year new facts and control techniques for insect pests are circulated among the masses. This year with the mosquito borne Zika virus and West Nile virus being in the news, stories, testimonials and cheap, homemade solutions touting successful control and eradication, of these pests, will be circulating like mad.
The reality is that there will probably always be homemade remedies for the control of insects and other pests. While we can never say that there is no merit in them, they are seldom if ever as good as their advertisers say they will be.
This much you should know. Eating garlic, installing electronic ultrasonic gadgets, performing voodoo, planting special shrubs, putting sheets of fabric softener in your pockets, wearing citronella wrist bands and sprinkling various concoctions from the refrigerator or the medicine cabinet around the yard are not viable solutions for mosquito problems, despite what appears on the web or what neighbors and friends might think.
Don’t get caught up in the mosquito control mania. Don’t waste your valuable time and money.
Insect pest management is a complex science in which thousands of our brightest and most accomplished laboratory and field scientists spend their entire careers, some their entire lives. In one area of public health pest management – mosquito control – hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year to work on new and better ways to control mosquitoes in an effort to reduce the over one million fatalities due to malaria and other mosquito borne diseases each year. It is a massive effort and it has been going on for hundreds of years in nearly every country of the world. If eating garlic worked, these people would have figured that out by now, saved millions of lives and made a lot of money in the process.
It is said, “Nature will always find a way” (as quoted from the Jurassic Park movie) but we can always take steps to slow her down and right now is the time to start. Putting preventative measures in place now is important.
With unseasonably, warm weather, mosquito season may be starting early this year so, now’s the time to “Fight The Bite”!
- Maintain your property so that there are no standing water sources such as a neglected or out of order swimming pool, hot tub, spa, pond or fountain. Empty rain barrels, cans, buckets, jars, flower pots, old tires, toys or anything else that can hold water. Stagnant water provides the perfect breeding grounds. Well maintained water features with good water circulation discourages mosquito breeding. Moving water will effectively drown mosquito larva.
- Reduce watering in landscaped areas. Avoid creating puddles and overly damp grassy areas. Mosquitoes will breed in less than ¼ inch of water.
- Cut back dense foliage to open areas to the sun. This takes away resting areas, encourages moisture evaporation and improves plant health.
- Add bacillus thuringiensis (BT) to the water in a pond, fountain or birdbath to kill larvae and aid in mosquito control. BT is a harmless natural substance that is safe for pets, fish, birds and wild life but is deadly to all kinds of larvae.
- Stock mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) in bird baths, fountains, ornamental ponds, water gardens, unused pools, spas etc., and animal water troughs. The young fish will eat mosquito larvae as fast as they can hatch out of their eggs. Most county vector control programs provide these fish free of charge.
- Spray the entire yard including shrubbery monthly or more often with a mixture of natural pyrethrins, BT and neem oil for mosquito control.
- Install or repair screens, don’t leave unscreened windows or doors standing open.
- Move outdoor lights away from doorways. Lights attract insects. Place yellow light bulbs in patio lamps for use during evenings and at night during summertime. Orange-yellow lights do not attract mosquitoes and other flying insects as readily as white bulbs.
- Burn citronella candles or torches on or around the patio or other outdoor areas where activities are being performed. The more the better. Mosquitoes travel upwind at 1 1/2 to 3 mph. Place citronella in their flight path. Citronella does not kill mosquitoes but repels them when they come in contact with the smoke or vapors. It also masks human odors and the CO2 that we breathe, hiding us from the mosquitoes. Citronella candles and torches become less effective in breezy or windy conditions.
- To protect yourself: Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, wear light colored clothing (cover arms and legs) and use a Deet product as a repellent.
Mosquito Myths: http://www.mosquitoworld.net/mosquito-myths/
Mosquito Control Myths: https://cameronwebb.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/busting-the-five-myths-of-mosquito-repellents/