What a wacky start to this year, we had maybe one weeks’ worth of winter weather, a ton of spring like weather and that has quickly morphed into an almost summer like feeling. While this has been a boon for many, one of the unfortunate side effect is the mosquitos are out in full force. So how can one avoid the often hyped unofficial state bird from drinking you dry or ruining your nice barbeque?
Let me just offer a quick thoughts before we get started on the top 5 methods – I am not big on pesticides, spraying one’s body down with chemicals, or other gimmicks for attracting and killing them. In many cases, some of these items may work great in certain places but in others they can be a complete failure as there are approximately 3,500 different types or species which react differntly.
#1 – Your Yard:
The best defense is actually good maintenance and eliminating there breading grounds. Mosquitos require water to breed and lay their eggs in stagnant water, slow moving water, very moist soil, areas that don’t drain quickly, decomposing leaves & waste.
- Keep those gutters clean & flowing out away from the house
- A well maintained compost pile is generally not an issue, but rather leaves & debris rotting in a low laying area
- If you have a pool or spa – run the pump daily & keep the water chlorinated
- Eliminate areas of standing water
- Rain barrels – make sure there is a screen on them to prevent access
- Don’t leave buckets, tires, wheelbarrows, unused flower pots, etc… in the yard that may collect water – in some cases turning them upside down works great
- After a rain storm check to see where water ponds & see if you can drain it away or increase how quickly it is absorbed in the soil
- Wading pools, bird baths, etc… should be cleaned at least once a week
- Water features – keep the water circulating so that mosquitoes won’t lay eggs there (this also works great for bird baths)
#2 – What you wear:
In simple terms, the arguments against wearing dark clothes due to mosquitos are hilarious. While it is true that many studies have shown that darker clothes attracted more mosquitos, in a large part that is because those clothes stood out from the background more. The best advice is to wear light, loose fitting clothing that covers the body (long sleeve shirt tucked in, pants, etc…) because if the mosquitos can’t get to your skin, they can’t feed.
#3 – What you eat:
If garlic works on vampires, will that mean it will work on these little bloodsuckers? In short it actually can help. Remember the saying, you are what you eat? Well there is a flip side to that which is you also exude certain smells based on what you eat & most mosquitos are not fond of garlic or chives.
Along those lines, for those fans of Survivor – have you ever noticed how the contestants get eaten alive yet most of the natives are free from bites? Part of that has to do with the mosquito’s great sense of smell. Not only can they smell the sweat & lactic acid one exudes, but also what we alluded to above on being what one eats. Many of the natives have eaten & live off the natural plants, so they essentially blend in. Now all of a sudden we introduce a new smorgasbord of smells & the mosquitos start arriving in drones for this new all you can eat buffet that just opened up.
Heh, no Tabasco sauce will not stop them from biting you (as evidenced in the ad) nor will it cause them to blow up as shown, but it sure is a hilarious spot.
#4 – Keeping them out of your home or business:
Screens that are in great shape are great for allowing air in while blocking mosquitos. Certain light sources can also help cut down on how many bugs will be attracted to the area. If you are like me & can’t stand those yellow bug lights – look at LED lighting. Not only will this save energy, but if you pay attention and get one that lowers the amount of blue light given off, you are not going to attract as many bugs.
For commercial businesses one great option are entry blowers. This essentially is a fan mounted above the door which turns on and creates a curtain of moving air when the door is opened. Not only does this help block mosquitos & other flying insects from getting in, but if installed properly it can also help prevent the conditioned air from flowing out.
#5 Enjoying the pool, porch or barbeque:
For porches, the answer is simple & that revolves around screening it in. You may also consider utilizing a ceiling fan to keep the air moving which makes it harder for the mosquitos to find & get to you. For those areas that can’t be screened in, a fan can be a great asset as mentioned above. Citronella candles also work great in some areas assuming you are close by & the wind isn’t blowing.
The picture is courtesy of the National Institute of Health & is the U. S. GPO, 1944 “Annie O. Pheles” anti-malaria campaign which featured a seductive / criminal female malaria mosquito and was used in several animated cartoons. Fortunately malaria is not a concern to many of us, but it still is in many other parts of the world.
Additional Info & Websites:
- The Mayo Clinic: Prevention, Treating, and other resources on Mosquitos
- DIY Life: Funny look at 10 bizarre tips
- HTRC: Dealing with Spiders, Snakes & Scorpions, Raccoons, Squirrels & Mice
- HTRC: Our “How To” page which has links to many of the articles on maintenance