Mosquito Control After The Rains
Are you prepared for what I believe will be a total onslaught of mosquitoes?
Thanks to all the moisture courtesy of Hurricane Alex, plus the heat and humidity of our typical July, mosquito populations will blow up this week. It's somewhat true that a decade ago, the only ways to control mosquitoes were with neighborhood fogger trucks and by homeowners treating wet areas on their property with insecticides like Malathion.
While we can still use chemical insecticides quite successfully in damp or wet areas, new organic controls are also available today. Additionally, we have fancy, environmentally safe high-tech gizmos like The Mosquito Magnet™, The Mosquito Trap™ and various misting systems. In other words, we've come a long way from citronella candles and fly swatters.
I'm a firm believer in both organic and inorganic gardening and landscaping, and the same holds true for mosquito control. Malathion still works for me and many others. But, for those with kids and pets, organic alternatives abound.
For example, doughnut-shaped Mosquito Dunks can be placed in standing water or damp areas to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching. Their active ingredient is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), an organic bacterium that works on mosquito larvae and those of many caterpillars and worms.
The Mosquito Magnet is a free-standing unit that runs off a propane tank. It emits puffs of carbon dioxide, heat, and moisture — emulating a large cow. The combination is simply irresistible to mosquitoes, and as they head for the vapor thinking dinner awaits, they are sucked into a waiting net where they die from dehydration. A cheaper version that works on electricity is called The Mosquito Trap.
And, there are misting systems that emit a fine spray of organic pyrethrum insecticide on the perimeter of your property. While this is the most expensive system, and most people just use it for the back yard, it's the most precise. The problem is that misting system companies come and go. There are very few in business today that were started five or more years ago. These days, I trust Unique Outdoor Mosquito Pros. I love that their system is "tankless," so you don't have to deal with the big, honkin' blue or black barrels used in the earliest misting systems. You set it to go off for an hour or two before you plan to be outside and, viola ... no mosquitoes or any other biting insects.
Which solution works best, and which do I prefer? It depends on your acreage and your pocketbook. If cost is no object, then have a misting system installed. If dollars are a concern, go with Mosquito Dunks, insecticides, or even citronella candles. For something in between, try the Mosquito Magnet or Mosquito Trap — but remember, they only cover about half an acre. Insecticides and the Mosquito Dunks only work in their immediate areas.
Now, before you start sending me the "chain e-mail" on homemade natural mosquito controls and personal protection, remember that this week's tip sheet is focused on landscape controls. I've received that e-mail hundreds of times over the years. Most of it is pure bunk. I did a tip sheet on the subject a few years ago.
But since we've touched on "personal protection," many have asked me about the new OFF!® Clip-On™ fan. I love the idea and the commercials, but it's still an insecticide. It's not DEET, but it's not organic either. The active ingredient is metofluthrin, and I believe the jury is still out on whether it's 100 percent effective. The little research available on the product is quite interesting, though. While it's mostly marketed as a "barrier" or repellant, metofluthrin will actually kill bugs it contacts. Because a battery-powered fan disperses the protectant, it probably doesn't work very well on windy or breezy days.
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