Raise your hand...Who hates mosquitoes?

A front porch is like a warm embrace inviting visitors into the heart of the home. It is here we share a balmy evening dinner with friends, where a porch swing beckons a first kiss, or where a boy might share his sad day with a puppy. However, the peace is shattered when we hear that familiar high-pitched buzz of persistent mosquitoes. We’ve spent so much effort adorning our lovely open porches and when we refuse the eye-sore of permanent screening, we ask, “What else can we do to protect ourselves from the nasty blood suckers that hunt us?"

A temperate winter has not produced the sustained cold that seasonally reduces mosquito populations. This year might prove to be a very bad year for these disease carrying micro-monsters. Mosquito control has become big business offering products with varying degrees of effectiveness. People will try just about anything short of napalm for relief and we would like to share a few alternatives you can use to protect your family.

mosquito netting
 

Remove Standing Water

The single best way to reduce mosquito populations is to remove standing water where mosquitoes breed. The trick is to find these hidden “love shacks.” While a half-filled trashcan lid or wheelbarrow might be obvious suspects, many forget the more obscure sources of standing water. Lawn depressions, rain gutters, and matted leaves are often overlooked. All that is required is the tiniest pool of water to successfully breed new mosquitoes.

Mosquito-eating Fish

One weapon in the fight against mosquitoes may be as close as the pond in your back yard. The idea is simple. Lure female mosquitoes to a controlled breeding ground, allow them to lay their eggs and let fish eat the eggs before they hatch. Gambusia affinis, also known as “mosquito fish, can eat up to 100 larvae each day. They can make a big difference in a small pond or water garden. Gambusia are related to and look very much like guppies and may be purchased in some pet stores. Goldfish, koi, and green mollies are also suitable to use.

Natural Insecticides

To ensure that you kill all the larvae, you may use a natural insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis “Bti” that is produced by a bacterium. Bti kills just mosquitoes and flies, is non-toxic and should not hurt fish, beneficial insects such as honeybees or butterflies, people, pets, fish or plants. Common names under which Bti is sold include Bactimos, Teknar, Vectobac and Mosquito Dunks.

Outdoor Curtains

Nothing is more effective than a physical barrier to separate you from mosquitoes. Outdoor curtains are a removable and washable alternative to permanent screening. Originally designed for upscale homes, they are elegant and attractive, yet are quite affordable.

Outdoor curtains are offered in various colors such as White, Ivory, and Black as well as a “no-see-um” mesh for coastal sandflies.Outdoor curtains may be hung using a variety of attachment methods including curtain tracking similar to what is used for hospital privacy curtains.

screen porch

 
   

Home-made Remedies

Our favorite home-made remedy is a very simple and inexpensive “plate trap.” Fill a white dinner plate with water and a few drops of lemon scented dishwashing soap. Set a few traps outside and count your dead. The mosquitoes are attracted to both the white color and lemon scent. As they land to lay their eggs they get stuck in the soapy emulsion and cannot escape. In an informal field test, five of these plate traps killed as many mosquitoes as an expensive one-acre propane trap for a fraction of a penny.

Propane Traps

Propane traps kill mosquitoes. However, at an initial price tag of $400 and $30 per month for propane and lure replacements, they can be costly and a hassle to operate. Often they attract mosquitoes from a broader area than you wish to control. And while your neighbors will appreciate your good deeds, mosquito populations may not be reduced as quickly as you might hope.

Mosquito Misting Systems

Mosquito misting systems are certainly the new rage among upscale homes that can afford the relatively high installation and maintenance cost. A word of caution though as some manufacturers have come under scrutiny for misleading advertising claiming that the chemicals are completely safe. While the headline insecticide may be harmless, it is sometimes supplemented with dangerous ingredients. One need only read the WARNING label to assess the dangers of this system.

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