Those annoying mosquitoes
I’m pretty sure if I took a poll asking people what insect annoys them most somewhere at the top of the list would be mosquitoes. In my world those ear buzzing skin pricking little warm weather critters seem to have no purpose except for being an annoyance when trying to enjoy a sunset, observe the night sky, or simply get some sleep.
I’ve even experienced the occasional mosquito hiding indoors in the dead of winter. Usually there won’t be more than one or two but if they make an appearance it’s because they’re looking for nourishment to continue the long haul until spring.
In the past both situations would have been handled with store bought repellents; the kind which were the norm at summer camp or for any evening where skin was exposed and mosquitoes were likely. However, I eventually came to terms with the fact that if those products killed insects they probably weren’t great for humans either. Reading up on the subject confirmed my suspicions with studies showing DEET, one of the main ingredients in those sprays, can potentially cause any number of illnesses in people. That’s when I started phasing out most sprays unless it was clear they were comprised of natural ingredients only. I also sought better ways to repel mosquitoes as opposed to trying to kill every one on the block.
Repelling vs extermination
It’s important to note that sometimes when an infestation of any kind occurs an exterminator may be needed and there’s no way around it. For example, we once had an ant problem and nothing worked until the man with the poison showed up. While that was years ago some exterminators today do employ natural substances but they are not always successful against an invasion.However, if it’s clear there’s a problem but its minor natural alternatives can work nicely.
When it comes to mosquitoes one thing to know is that although they are attracted to fruity smells they disdain certain herbs like lavender, rosemary, citronella, and mint. We had mint growing wildly in our yard which may have helped to a certain extent but just having it around the property didn’t guarantee anything. Applying essential oils made from these plants to skin was the key to keeping them from biting.
Burning citronella candles and certain types of incense are also useful repellents and work great when having a barbeque or dinner on the deck. If possible wearing light pants and long sleeve shirts for those summer evenings can also make a difference as it puts up more of a barrier between you and the neighborhood mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes love Moisture
Early on in my crusade against mosquitoes another thing I learned was that they are attracted to moisture. That means when you leave water outside your home your telling them ‘Come, breed here!’
When I realized this I set up a small inspection list to ensure rain water wasn’t collecting around the exterior of our home. With all the gardening and other DIY projects I enjoyed doing around the exterior I made sure empty containers weren’t left idle, that the rain barrel from which I fed the yard was sealed tightly, and that potted plants and flowers weren’t directly opposite windows and doors where mosquitoes could breed and easily slip inside.
Meanwhile, I also made sure gutters weren’t clogged because we had some big trees around the house and falling leaves and branches occasionally block downspouts causing water to sit. Furthermore, I checked all the screens on doors and windows for tears because there’s always plenty of moisture indoors and once a mosquito discovered it’s way in there would be more.
The bottom line: Many of these tactics from essentials oils to cleaning up around the property are still things I do today and even though a few mosquitoes may get past my defenses they are better options than the harmful effects of some of the chemicals still on the market.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post by Jakob Barry. No compensation was received.