Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Take That, You Bloodsuckers!

July 23rd is Mosquito Day. Well, at least I think it is. Some sites list it as August 20th - the day, in 1897, when Ronald Ross discovered that mosquitoes spread malaria through their saliva when they bite 
their victim. One site even listed it as May 13th.

Well. I need a topic now, not in August, and certainly not all the way to next May. So, as far as Bugs and Bunnies is concerned, July 23 is Mosquito Day. That being said, did you know that there are 170 different kinds of mosquitoes in North America alone? Or that there are over 2,000 types of mosquitoes worldwide? Ick.

And, did you know there is such a place as the OFF! Biting Insect Center? Well, there is. They hatch over 150,000 mosquitoes weekly. (What?? They actually breed these things? On purpose? Listen, Insect Center People: why not just go to my old neighborhood near the Chesapeake Bay? You can collect those little bloodsuckers all day long if you want. Folks there would be more than happy to share their overabundance with you.)

Moving on: They say everything in nature has a necessary function, but it seems that not everything in nature has a beneficial function. Mosquitoes bite. Or rather, they suck blood. (The females do, anyway. The males only go after plant juices.) They raise ugly, red, itchy welts on my skin. They carry a whole host of nasty - and not always curable - diseases, including: malaria, Dengue fever, yellow fever, the virus that causes elephantiasis, and several types of encephalitis (including West Nile Virus). Nasty little buggers.

Therefore, they are Public Enemy Number One in your backyard. What to do, then, when you want to enjoy a nice get-together on the deck on a lazy summer evening, but don't want to go the chemical/pesticide route? From what I have read, the best defense is a good offense, so I've compiled a little How-To guide for you. As you read, keep in mind that mosquito larvae need to float on the surface of still water to grow and hatch, and it will all make perfect sense:

Ten Non-Chemical Ways to Mosquito-Proof Your Backyard
  1. Don't let water stand in flower pot saucers or pet bowls for more than two days. 
  2. Toss out unused containers, from the teeniest to the largest, that could collect and hold water.
  3. Clean out rain gutters.
  4. Change water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week, and keep swimming pools clean and chlorinated. (OK, there's a bit of chemical here, but would you swim in a pool that wasn't chlorinated? Right, then. Let's continue, shall we?)
  5. Turn over canoes, boats and wading pools.
  6. If you have wet spots in your yard, plant vegetation that likes "wet feet."
  7. Put sand in the dark, damp areas beneath the deck.
  8. Plug tree holes and stumps.
  9. If you have ornamental pools in your yard, stock them with small, top-feeding minnows called - appropriately enough - mosquito fish.
  10. Plop a large fan on your deck. Yep. A fan. Turns out, wind speed of over 1 mph messes with their flight. Who knew?
Now, I can't guarantee you'll be totally mosquito free if you follow all these tips, but they should at least help you cut down on the swat factor, anyway.

If all else fails...make friends with a few dragonflies. They have a voracious appetite for mosquitoes from itty bitty egg all the way to full grown menace. Talk about your natural remedies!

OK, I gotta sign off. I. Am. So. Itchy...


1 comment:

  1. I covered myself with lots of 'skin so soft' by avon today. I don't think I got bit at all.


    Love T


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