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Taming Your Outdoors
Slapping yourself silly trying to keep mosquitoes from biting you? Besides causing irritating itching bites, mosquitoes can also carry and transmit several diseases including the West Nile Virus. Although you cannot get rid of every mosquito, there are many ways to protect yourself and those around you.
The most important way to help fight mosquitoes is by breaking their breeding cycle. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water and those eggs hatch within 48 hours. Once hatched, the larvae feed on debris in the stagnant water until they move into the resting stage. In this stage, the larvae become pupae. The mosquito begins to develop and finally emerges as an adult mosquito. All this can happen in less than 5 days!
Be pro-active and check the area around your home for places where standing water may accumulate such as birdbaths, clogged gutters, buckets, kiddie pools, toys, even bottle caps - mosquitoes can breed in just a thimble full of water. Change water often in birdbaths. Empty kiddy pools and turn them upside down when not in use so they do not collect water. Keep your gutters clear of debris.
If you have done your best to help prevent breeding and are still being bothered by mosquitoes, there are many products on the market to repel or kill mosquitoes. The available products range from low-cost items such as lotions and sprays to higher priced solutions such as traps and misters. Along with a range in cost comes a range in effectiveness.
Citronella candles and torches are ineffective except in very small areas. One study showed that use of citronella candles resulted in people still being bitten by mosquitoes, but they had half as many bites as those who were not around the candles. Other products that do not perform well are 'sonic' repelling systems. While these products are inexpensive, laboratory studies have shown that they do not work.
When looking for lotions or sprays, the Center for Disease Control recommends selecting those, which contain DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus. Products containing these ingredients can be obtained from most drug stores or home and garden stores. In addition to the products recommended by the CDC, there are also all natural products available. Lewey's Eco-Blends offers an all-natural product that contains essential oils such as rosemary and thyme, which have shown repellent properties. Eco-blend comes in bottles for human use and spray bottles for equine use. Always be sure to read the label instructions and follow these instructions carefully.
If you would rather choose a more high-tech solution which helps reduce the population of mosquitoes, then you may want to investigate a propane based collection system or a mosquito misting system. The propane collection system works by converting the propane to carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide draws the mosquitoes to the unit in the same way your exhaled breath draws mosquitoes to you. In the collection system, the mosquito is 'trapped' in a bag when the pest enters the unit. These units need to have their collection bag cleaned frequently and you must change/refill the propane tank. Placement is critical. The units need to be placed downwind of your area and must be moved every time the wind direction shifts. These types of units require a fair amount of human intervention to operate at peak performance so the cost vs. the price should be weighed accordingly.
Another high-tech solution that is fairly new to the market, the mosquito mister system is permanently installed around your home. The system is comprised of a reservoir, pump, timer, and nozzles. Once the system is installed, it is set to mist a diluted Pyrethrum concentrate, at specified intervals - usually 4 times per day for about 30 seconds each period. The active ingredient in Pyrethrum is Pyrethrin, which is a natural pesticide made by crushing a special type of chrysanthemum flower into powder form. The powder is then added to an insecticide, commonly referred to as PBO, to increase the effectiveness of the solution. Misting Systems require only occasional maintenance and refilling, but are priced higher than other options. More advanced mister systems can be equipped with a remote control and variable timing functions in addition to automatic weather control options.
Now that you know how mosquitoes breed and how to protect against their bites, don't let them run your life. Take action, tame your outdoors and enjoy your summer!
Bill Hackel is General Manager of http://www.MosquitoMister.com, the top supplier of mosquito misting systems for the do-it-yourself consumer.
Delavays Blueberry (Vaccinium delavayi)
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