Photo credit: photochem_PA
Nothing takes the fun out of summer like being swarmed by mosquitoes every time you walk out the door. These persistent pests seem to come out of nowhere and annoy, aggravate, and eat every human they encounter. Not only are mosquitoes annoying, but they also carry some pretty scary diseases. You can quickly wipe out these annoying critters with powerful chemical sprays and deterrents, but what are those noxious sprays leaving behind in the air that you breath and the surfaces you touch? If you’ve sworn off dangerous chemicals you don't have to suffer the mosquito’s whining wrath. You can deter them naturally with a few simple tricks.
The first and most important thing to remember about mosquito prevention is: NO STANDING WATER. It takes only 7-10 days and a tablespoon of water to hatch mosquito larvae. Do your best to eliminate standing water, drying up any wet spots in your yard and making sure that there is no stagnant water collecting in inconspicuous places. Even your gutters can harbor these pests, so be diligent. If you keep a bird bath or an outdoor fountain, make sure you change the water out every three days. This will prevent mosquito eggs from maturing into larvae.
But, no matter how hard you try, some mosquitoes will find your home and your patio. They are attracted to our breath, clothing and natural scents. If you’re living an urban or suburban farm lifestyle, there are a few additions to your homestead that can help keep the mosquito population at bay.
- Chickens and guinea hens are great at keeping flying insects -- specifically mosquitoes -- and ticks at bay.
- If you have a small pond or unchlorinated fountain, stock it with goldfish who will make tasty snacks of any mosquito larvae.
- Avoid using harsh pest killers around your home because some of those so-called pests -- dragonflies, beetles, snails, spiders, and frogs -- love to snack on mosquitoes. Plus those harmful pest control sprays have chemicals that you don’t want around your home anyway!
If you lack the urban or suburban farm space, there’s no reason your porch or patio should be plagued by mosquitoes either. There are some simple solutions you can use to keep your outdoor living spaces buzz and bite free.
- Plant a pot or two of lemon balm. It contains natural mosquito-repelling fragrances. You can also plant marigolds and catnip as a natural mosquito deterrent. If you can find the tree and shrub varieties of these plants (as well as tulsi and neem), they make for great long-term solutions.
- A small dish with a few drops of dish soap will keep the mosquitoes busy. Place the dish at a good distance from you, and they should flock to it instead.
- Place a glass of beer on your patio, and the mosquitoes will be drawn to it instead of you and your guests. Of course, this doesn’t work if you are also drinking beer.
- Grilling out? Place a sprig or two of sage or rosemary on the grill as you cook, and the mosquitoes will flee from the fragrant scent.
Chances are, despite all of your efforts, you’ll likely end up with a bite or two this summer. And nothing is more irritating and itchy than those little red bumps. The most important thing to remember is the hardest to do: DON’T ITCH! Itching the bites can create microscopic cuts in your skin, allowing germs and bacteria to create an infection. Instead of itching, try these remedies:
- Apply a cold pack. The cold temperature will block the nerve that is telling your brain to itch.
- Apply tea tree oil. This essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties which cut down on the swelling and the itch. You can also use basil or mint essential oils for a similar result.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the itch (this also works for bee stings). This should help the swelling.
- Kick your baking soda paste up a notch by adding witch hazel instead of water. This will double the anti-inflammatory powers and help relieve the itching.
- Mix equal parts skim milk and water and soak a handkerchief in the solution. Apply gently to the affected areas for a reduction in swelling and itching. Try this on your summertime sunburns as well.
- When all else fails, try aloe vera. It works on sunburns, and it works great on bites, too!
What other tips and remedies do you have to share?