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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Gardening > General Gardening & Landscaping

Take Care of Mosquitoes Before They Bite
by Kathleen Hennessy, Tips from 29MinuteGardener.com

Heavy winter snow, record rainfall and catastrophic flooding are creating a "perfect storm" for mosquitoes. Some experts say much of the country, especially the Midwest, could be looking at the worst mosquito season in three years.

Once floodwaters recede, the remaining pools of standing water create a haven for mosquitoes. Since mosquito eggs require moisture to hatch, it's not just this year's eggs that we have to worry about.

"Floodwater mosquito eggs can stay viable for seven years or more," says Mike McLean of Minnesota's Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. "So, years of relatively dry weather followed by a year with a lot of rainfall can mean several years worth of mosquitoes hatching at once."

Treat Your Yard

"The first step to keeping unwanted mosquitoes away is to make sure you don't have any standing water around your yard," says chemical engineer and scientist, Brian Weekley. "Mosquito eggs can hatch in as little as a tablespoon of water. Be sure to empty out your kid's plastic pools, check your birdbaths, gutters and flower pots."

The next step is to hit them where they live. Experts say the best way to prevent mosquitoes from hanging around your home is to use a hand-pump type sprayer with a safe insecticide designed to cling to the areas you spray.

"Mosquitoes hide in shady areas during the day," says Weekley. "The key is to put the product right where the mosquitoes live. Products that attach to the end of your hose or that create a fog just don't work as well or last as long. They end up spraying the tops of plants, not the underside where the bugs rest."

Look for water-based, non-staining products specifically formulated for mosquitoes such as Bugglsayer Insecticide. Buggslayer uses a safe, powerful ingredient found in the extract of chrysanthemum flowers.

"Spray the underside of the leaves of shade-loving plants such as hostas, ferns and lilies. Be sure and get under the deck, around bushes and behind the garage, anywhere that serves as a good mosquito hideout. You can even spray your screens to keep them away from doors and windows."

Treat Yourself

Some experts recommend staying in the house during peak mosquito hours, but in many cases, that's not an option. Treating your skin and clothing with a topical insect repellent can stop the biting. Look for a repellant containing 25% DEET. "DEET is the most effective EPA registered bug repellent," says Weekley. "And when used properly, it's very safe."

If you're looking for a cleaner smelling option, be sure you're not giving up effectiveness. To cover up the odor of DEET, some other products use lower concentrations, which means you'll likely be reapplying more often. "We created Clean Scent Buggspray with two goals in mind," says Weekley. "It had to repel bugs and it had to have a smell that was pleasant to wear." Clean Scent Buggspray is the only repellent that is EPA registered to repel mosquitoes that may transmit West Nile Virus, encephalitis, malaria or Dengue fever. In addition, it has a clean powdery scent that smells nice.

Taking a few simple steps to prevent mosquitoes from hanging around can make your outdoor activities much more enjoyable. For more information on controlling mosquitoes in your area visit your state department of health web site or www.buggspray.com.

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