Winning the War Against Mosquitoes

by Ed Arnold

It’s great to spend time outdoors in the summertime, relaxing at the pool, grilling or enjoying family activities in the backyard. But in North Texas, a gang of spoilsports is lurking in the shadows—mosquitoes.

Rising temperatures, hidden pockets of standing water and high humidity all contribute to the increase in mosquito populations. With 85 different species of mosquitoes living in Texas, these pests are adaptable and act as a vector for transmitting viruses and disease.

When a virus-free mosquito bites an infected animal or fowl, it can become a carrier of diseases such as West Nile, yellow fever and other brain swelling or encephalitis-type viruses. Symptoms include fever and severe headache, which may progress to vomiting, sensitivity to light and seizures. Children and the elderly are the most at risk for severe reactions and even death.

The control and prevention of mosquitoes in any given domain is essential to meeting the challenge head-on, although one needs to be cognizant of the risks of sprays and deterrents for the environment, human health concerns and on other, beneficial insects. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the commercial insect repellant DEET is an effective mosquito deterrent, but chemical-based pesticides are not nearly as safe for the environment as natural and organic methods.

The use of natural or botanical products can be an active deterrent to mosquitoes and other annoying insect pests without inflicting harsh effects on the environment. Active ingredients such as pyrethrins (derived from a variety of chrysanthemum flowers) and essential plant oils impair the mosquitoes’ nervous system, rendering them helpless and allowing homeowners to enjoy their backyards. Planting rosemary in the yard and garden provides another natural repellant. They are easy to grow and also wonderful to cook with.

Some basic defensive tips for controlling mosquitoes and their breeding grounds include:
Remove any standing water or objects that may contain standing water. Turn buckets upside down, routinely change the water in outdoor pet bowls and birdbaths and remove tarps and junk that may hold water.
Clean out gutters or clogged rain gutters of leaves and debris that can hold water.
Fish can be added to garden ponds or outdoor decorative water pools as top feeders that eat the insects.
Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Mosquitoes are attracted to darker hues and can bite through fabric that is tight against the skin.

With a little preparation and defensive planning, time spent outdoors this summer can be more relaxing and enjoyable without the distraction of mosquitoes.

Ed Arnold is the owner, with son Jarrod, of Natural Pest Solutions, in Plano. For more information about natural pest solutions, including the MistAway Outdoor Insect Control System, call 214-763-2758 or visit GuysInGreen.com.

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