Nothing sends people running indoors during a summer barbecue faster than a swarm of blood-thirsty mosquitoes feasting on guests. Here are a few things you need to know about controlling the little pests so you can enjoy the season’s great weather.
The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has declared this week (June 26 to July 2) National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. AMCA aims to “Provide leadership, information, and education leading to the enhancement of health and quality of life through the suppression of mosquitoes and other vector-transmitted diseases, and the reduction of annoyance levels caused by mosquitoes and other vectors and pests of public health importance.”
Dangers of Mosquitoes
Besides annoying itchy bites, mosquitoes pose other health threats. According to the CDC, West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. In 2010, there were 1,021 reported cases in humans with only one so far in 2011 (in Mississippi). For a full list of data, check out these maps. So how can you steer clear of this threat? Here are some tips.
The biggest factor in ridding your yard of bugs is getting rid of standing water, which serves as a breeding ground for insects. Take a look around your yard–anything that collects water in the rain needs to be emptied or removed. Are there buckets, wheelbarrows, open garbage cans? Even large divots in the yard can fill with water in a rainstorm. Have a pond or birdbath? There are products like Mosquito Dunks, available at home and garden stores, that contain no poisonous chemicals, making them safe for ornamental pond fish, birds and wildlife.
There are plenty of products on the market that claim to eliminate or curb mosquitoes including bug zappers (can you see the glowing blue light and hear the zzzapp in your head right now?). Other options include devices that repel mosquitoes using sound and others that draw mosquitoes in by emitting carbon dioxide (like a human breathing) to lure them in to suck them into a trap. Here’s a list of some more ideas.
Head into any , big box store or grocery store and you’ll find endcaps and aisles dedicated to protecting yourself from mosquitoes, ranging from citronella candles to lotions and sprays. The CDC says products containing DEET and Picaridin have shown to be most effective. Note that a higher percentage of DEET doesn’t deter more mosquitoes; it simply is effective for a longer period of time.
Other Methods of Control
There are other common-sense methods of staying bite free. Minimize exposed skin with long pants and long sleeves. Take advantage of screen porches or outdoor screened canopies or limit time outdoors during mosquitoes’ feeding times–dawn and dusk. Buy or build a bat house. One bat can eat more than 5,000 mosquito-sized insects each night! Agway stocks bat houses, but if you’re looking for a project, this site offers free bat house plans.