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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition

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Let’s Send the Nile Back to the Pharaoh

Sep 07, 2012 09:43AM ● By Lin W. Ellis

When the mosquito-borne West Nile virus alert was announced several years ago, it scared people. Then you just didn't hear about it anymore, but it never went away. It will always be here with us. Because of our recent mild winter, we experienced an explosion in the bug population, including mosquitos. The biggest problem with mosquitoes is the egg. Nothing affects the eggs. It is only after they hatch that something can be done. Unfortunately, that something has turned out to be a very unpopular campaign of aerial spraying of toxic pesticide that has many residents up in arms.

There is a big window of time to go out and take preventive measures to make sure those eggs never hatch or get laid in the first place, because your yard has been mosquito-proofed. Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and early evening mostly, because they can't take the heat. During the hottest part of the day, they are hiding in yards, waiting to come out when the sun is going down. Here’s what to do.

Clean out gutters regularly. Mosquitoes live and breed in the debris, especially if wet. Clean bird baths regularly. Cover firewood. Companies make special covers, but a tarp or large piece of plastic works just as well.

Trim bushes six inches up from the ground, six inches from the house and keep them as small as possible. Trimming keeps sunlight coming through, so it is too hot for them to live there. Trim all trees. Small lower branches provide a great canopy for mosquitoes. Trim the whole tree so that sunlight comes through. Pick up all loose leaves, grass and organic debris on the ground, and don't pile them up. That just creates a home for mosquitoes out of the sun.

Water between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Evening watering provides a breeding ground for the creatures. Twice-weekly watering is more than enough. Water more than that may create standing water in which mosquitoes can breed.

Don't pile up old wood or pots or any junk in general outdoors. Perfect place to get out of the sun and something is usually holding water in there as well. Don't keep drain pots under your potted plants outside. Make sure nothing around the house is holding any water. Dump it and turn it upside-down. Cutting down on irrigation won’t help if there is standing water. If there is a bowl of water outside for a pet, dump it every night. A pet needs fresh water every day, anyway.

Have a professional treat your yard with a garlic spray or the new IC3, from Essentria. Or, you can do a regular yard treatment using EcoSmart WP X. This should be done starting in April and last almost four weeks, depending on which one you choose. Spray regularly. Don't skip a spray because of a vacation. Mosquitoes don’t take vacations. If you have a mosquito spray system, switch over to the botanical version made by Essentria.

There are the Mosquito Motel (outside) and Fly Web (inside) that works with a light to emit carbon monoxide, like we humans do, that attracts mosquitoes. It runs 24 hours (it is electric and needs a plug) and continuously traps mosquitoes, as well as other unwanted bugs.

Landscaping can make a big difference. Plant garlic; it puts out a beautiful flower and you can eat it, too. Plant mint in pots, or they will take over a flowerbed. Geraniums and marigolds cut down on the mosquito population, as well. So does lavender.

Bamboo, English ivy and jasmine are beautiful, but are also very mosquito-friendly. I cringe when I have a yard like this. Keep the bamboo thinned out and ivy and jasmine trimmed. Don't let them grow on the surface of the house. It makes them difficult to treat and it destroys the mortar of the home.

Even doing all of this, you will never completely get rid of all of the mosquitoes. All these preparations just helps control them. So, use a personal mosquito repellant outdoors. Here is a homemade recipe from the makers of the garlic spray, Mosquito Barrier.


Lin W. Ellis is a commercial certified applicator through the Texas Department of Agriculture, Structural Pest Control Service. Her company, EcoFriends Pest Control, uses botanical products, not harsh chemicals. Contact 972-484-7287, [email protected] or EcofriendsPestControl.com.

Mosquito Repellent
Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil (can be almond or soybean oil
1 tsp Palmolive liquid dish liquid soap (cannot use any other brand)

Put in a small spray bottle, shake and mist yourself. Doesn't give you that icky feeling like commercial sprays you buy.

Also, keep fans outside and turn them on when for sitting outside enjoying the yard. Have one up high and one low around your feet. Remember that a mosquito must have a blood meal to lay viable eggs.
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