Don't let mosquitoes keep you indoors the rest of the summer. Since the heavy rains of June and July, we may be in for one of the worst mosquito infestations in five years. But that doesn't mean you can't do some things to protect yourself from the invasion and still enjoy the great outdoors. And since mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance these days, thanks to the West Nile Virus, why put your family's health at risk?
It's sort of amazing to me where we've come in terms of mosquito controls in the decade that I've been doing GardenLine. Just 20 years ago, the only mosquito control around was Fogger-Trucks and homeowners treating the backyard with Malathion.
While we can still use chemical insecticides like Malathion quite successfully in damp or wet areas (especially in the landscape beds) new organic controls are also available today. We also have fancy, environmentally safe high-tech gizmos like Mosquito Misting Systems, The Mosquito Magnet™, and The Mosquito Trap™. In other words, we've come a long way from citronella candles and bug zappers on the back porch. I'm always a firm believer in a combination of both organic and inorganic gardening and landscaping methods, and the same holds true for mosquito control. Malathion sprays still works for me and many other people. But, for those with kids and pets, organic alternatives abound.
For example, a doughnut-shaped product called Mosquito Dunks can placed in standing water or damp areas to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching. Their active ingredient is Bt, an organic bacterium that works on mosquito larvae, as well as those of many caterpillars and worms.
Another biologically-based product known as Rosemary Oil (a.k.a. Bioganic) is a new spray that you can use in pump-up sprayers and hose-end sprayers as a landscape treatment. Plus, companies that install "Misting Systems" are just starting to use Rosemary Oils in their misting systems too. Citronella Candles are still a viable alternative when sitting outside, but when the infestation is as bad as this summer's is likely to be, it might be an effort in futility. And/or it might cost you a fortune in candles that might be better spend on some of the newer advancements in Mosquito Control
Such as products like the Mosquito Magnet, 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 rather than gas is called The Mosquito Trap.
And, of course if you've listened to my radio show over the past few years, you know there are permanent misting systems that emit a fine spray of Pyrethrum (or its synthetically derived sister - Permethrin) insecticide on the entire perimeter of your property. While this is the most expensive system of all the methods I've discussed today, it truly is the one that can give you the most peace of mind. I've been known to say on the radio show time and again "Can you imagine never having to mix, fill or spray chemical insecticides in your backyard ever again, especially if you have kids"? Organically-speaking, the more advanced companies are already trying botanical compounds in their misting systems too. As mentioned earlier, Rosemary Oil or a blend of Rosemary, Clove and Thyme oils are the newest advancement in misting systems for the organically-driven.
There is a local misting company that is the best in the business at this known as Mosquito Nix. If you are interested, you can contact them at 713-682-9900 and ask for the Randy Lemmon Special as a way to save some serious money on a misting system installation.
Which one works best, and which do I prefer? It depends on your acreage and your pocketbook. If cost is no object, then by all means have a misting system installed. If cost is a big hurdle, 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 or application.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
Be sure to check out Randy's event page to see where else Randy will be for the next few weekends. Bring your plants, bugs, and diseases for identification purpose.
And you can still purchase a copy of my new book
Until our next issue, here's to great gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively weekend mornings 8 a.m.-noon on TALKRADIO 950 KPRC.
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