Mosquito Prevention–5 Things
I don’t get a lot of mosquitos where I live, in fact, several of my windows don’t even have screens on them. But I hate a mosquito bite as much as the next person, so I was interested in a recent article about mosquito-repellant plants.
Preventing an invasion, tho’, starts with knowing a bit about the little fly. For example, who knew she’s attracted to Carbon Dioxide?
Some other facts:
♣Most mosquitos breed in stagnant water, but it can be as little as the drop that remains in a leaf axil or cupped leaf.
♠In colder climates, many mosquito eggs and/or larvae can over-winter frozen, or even dried out, in a state called “diapause”, beginning to grow again with thaw or water.
♥Usually the period from egg to adult is up to 40 days, but the adult lifespan only a week or so. And contrary to popular belief, the female will only feed once (unless disturbed from getting a “full blood meal”), then rest several days while digesting the meal and making eggs. They can only do this two or three times before the end of their natural life. So that one mosquito that bugged you all night and left you with multiple bites was actually a family of mossies.
♦It appears to be a myth that if you allow the mosquito to finish supper, and remove her proboscis unmolested, you won’t feel the itch of the bite. Couldn’t find any evidence for this.
The feeding preferences of Mosquitos include those with type O blood, heavy breathers, those with a lot of skin bacteria, people with a lot of body heat, and the pregnant. (Wikipedia)
WOW! Hard to change most of those things!
Periodically check around the yard for standing water. Could be in a planter tray, the tarp covering your winter tires, the edge of a pool where your hose bib drips. Have you got a container garden without drainige holes (or enough drainage holes)?
The key here is standing water–if there is movement to the water, the mosquito won’t find it a hospitable place to lay her eggs. So if you’ve been resisting installing a fish pond (with pump adequate to the its volume), or water feature of some kind, never fear–there’s way too much turbulence for a mosquito nursery.
If you do have a pond, consider stocking it with fish for those quiet areas behind rocks or plants where the water isn’t really moving.
Of course, that means you’re keeping more pets, because even tho’ they are easy to look after, they do need some looking after. Not to mention fish predation–but that’s a subject for another post…
I’ve harped on about this many times–it’s the answer to most of your garden concerns, from disease and pests to garden delight. In this case having habitat for many different species in your yard will decrease the likelihood of mosquitos enjoying the same neighbourhood. Mayfies, damselflies, dragonflies all love mosquitos and their larvae, but won’t eat enough to keep your evening read in the garden pest free. Ditto for birds. But lots of different birds and dragonflies, and frogs and toads, and spiders, combined with other prevention methods will go a long way toward ensuring your family’s comfort.
Plants with a lot of volatile oils are apparently good mosquito repellants, so plant them near your preferred sitting area in the garden–as well as further away, so you’ll have a mosquito-free zone.
Lemon balm–my tenant “accidentally” planted it in his section of the garden–it didn’t stay there!
Many of our favourite herbs have offensive smells to mosquitos–basil, rosemary, lemon balm, mint, lemon thyme, lavender, probably more. Besides growing them, picking off a few stems and rubbing it on exposed skin may increase the effect. Then there’s non-herb fragrant plants: garlic, marigold, rose-scented geranium (pelargonium, the annual kind), catmint (nepeta)…
Some of the above herbal applications may only work for a short time–half hour or so. Barbara Pleasant at Mother Earth News suggests watching out for what the mosquitos do: initially they don’t come near, then they alight but don’t bite, then they alight and bite. During that middle phase, get up and reapply some lemon balm or lavender–maybe try a different herb than last time? Some other suggestions are not wearing perfume and having a fan nearby. Apparently they’re weak fliers, but I guess the fan should still be pretty strong!
It’s a little late in the year to initiate many of these strategies, but maybe you’ll be inspired to add “anti-mosquito garden design” to your garden to-do list for fall or next spring.
Anyone have any great suggestions that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them here.