We are almost to summer, and with that we need to start getting our bug repellents ready to go – especially since we have had all this rain which only amplifies the already large mosquito population.
While no one wants to be bitten by a mosquito, there are folks young and old that can suffer more due to the different viruses and such that mosquitos can carry. From West Nile to Zika, a mosquito bite can now affect your entire life and jeopardize future generations. Not even dogs are safe since some mosquitos can carry heartworm and pass it on to canines.
Thankfully mosquitos only live around five months, and that is providing they make it through the gazillion swats in their direction every time they decide to have a meal. Their eggs, however, can survive up to eight months before hatching out, which only upsets me more at the idea that it seems we will never be able to get their numbers manageable. However, mosquitos prefer nectar to humans — unless you are a female mosquito that needs protein to form her eggs.
Just a few inches of water are all a mosquito needs to lay her eggs. So empty anything in your yard that has standing water to cut down on the places available for mosquito egg laying. This also means changing the water in your bird bath on a regular basis. And standing water can be of use to a mosquito. And most mosquitos don’t travel too far from where they were hatched. So, if they are born in your yard, chances are they will be sticking around there and your neighborhood all summer long.
While it doesn’t seem like it, mosquitos are one of the slowest flyers. Even butterflies can fly faster, which is hard to believe considering a mosquito’s wings beat somewhere between 300 to 600 times per second.
You are probably wondering how to keep these awful beasts at bay, especially if you have ever managed to apply mosquito spray and have these insects bite right on through it. Well don’t go out and buy a bug zapper, because you’ll likely kill more beneficial insects than mosquitos.
Mosquitos are attracted by CO2, which also happens to be the same thing that humans and animals produce. Bright lights don’t attract them, but the scent of CO2 does and brings them in closer for their next meal. There are traps that emit CO2 out there on the market now that will attract and kill mosquitos. Finding repellents that are safe for you and your yard are probably going to be your best bet in keeping them at bay.
As much as I despise chemicals, there have been times where the only thing that comes close to working is some good old-fashioned Deep Woods Off. Otherwise, I use an organic horse fly spray I found at Big R that comes in a spray bottle and smells pretty good too. I use it on myself as well as all the animals. There are many sprays available on the market, so find one that works for you and try your best to apply it so that you can deter those pesky insects from turning you into a buffet.
As awful as mosquitos are, their larvae do work to clean up the water they live in, as well as all stages of mosquitos being a food source for other animals along the food chain. While there are more than 3,000 different species of mosquitos, only 200 of those will bite humans. Not all of them are out to get us, even though I still feel like it most nights.
Not everyone is allergic to a mosquito’s saliva. Some people don’t have any reaction, while others are left with large welts. My family would be of the huge welt variety. Currently scientists are studying mosquitos in many ways, but what I found neat is that they are trying to design a less painful hypodermic needle to replicate that of a mosquito’s bite. Overall, I am still not a fan of mosquitos, but am aware that they go hand in hand with the weather getting nicer and summer beginning.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at email@example.com.