Minding the Mosquitoes!

I’ve been going out each evening to try to weed and work in my garden only to be dive bombed by the local mosquito population that is currently living there. One of the side effects of our wet winter last year is an abundance of mosquitoes, and as much as I like donating blood, this isn’t the way I’d choose to do it! In our garden we take a 1-2-3 punch to try and keep them under control, or at least peacefully coexist with the little blood suckers. Although there are many great products available, these are my favorites because they are easy to use and safe around your pets and children.

Mosquitoes love water so eliminating them in standing water of any kind is the first step. There is a product we like called Mosquito Dunks that are designed specifically for use in ponds, birdbaths, water features- any place that there is standing water that allows a habitat for the mosquitoes to breed. You’ll find them in the garden section of many local stores because they are so popular and work so well.

Mosquito Dunks contain bacillus thuringensis (BT)- a bacteria that attacks the stomach cells of insects and puts holes in the lining causing death within a few days. As ugly as this sounds, it is an organic product and safe for use in your garden, rain barrels, or ponds. It will not harm birds, fish, or mammals so it’s an effective solution for fighting mosquito infestations.

They work by releasing a larvicide at the waters surface which kills the mosquito larvae before they have a chance to grow. Follow label directions being careful not to use it in finished treated drinking water. This product can last up to 30 days, depending on weather conditions.

My second punch is to use a repellant that serves to make the already existing mosquitoes scram so that I can get some work done. Although there are several available, the one I like best is called Mosquito Beater and it works well, particularly if your vegetable or flower garden is lush, as many are this year, because the mosquitoes love to hide among that dense foliage. Mosquito Beater is a combination of oils- citronella, garlic, geranium, cedar, and lemongrass and I like it because it comes in a non-toxic, biodegradable, granular form that is easy to use and doesn’t smell badly. Simply broadcast this in an area you wish to treat using a lawn or other spreader, or sprinkle by hand following label directions.

My third and final punch is to use something on my person to repel them and for this I like a product called Superbands. If the BT didn’t kill them, the repellant didn’t work and they are still bent on withdrawing some of my blood, I wear these. Superbands are coiled wristbands that look just like the coiled keychains that you see in stores. If you don’t want to be spraying yourself down with toxic chemicals that are sticky, smelly, and messy, this is the solution for you. These are infused with oils- geranium, lemongrass, and citronella and I love them because they are great for kids since they don’t contain anything that will harm them. Simply slip a band or two on and off you go. Wear one on your wrist and another around your ankles to create a personal mosquito free zone. Best of all, they can last through several wearings.

Many people are allergic to the bites and they can also carry diseases, so it’s important to keep them in check, if at all possible. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are a fact of life in the summer and the trick to not becoming a human pincushion and involuntarily donating blood is to manage them effectively so that you can both enjoy your garden!