Tips to keep mosquiotes at bay

While early warm spring weather and recent rainfall is welcomed, the accompanying mosquitoes are not and they are already out in force. Keeping mosquitoes at bay while you garden is certainly a challenge.

Pesky, painful mosquito bites bring uncomfortable itching and swelling, but mosquitoes also transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and canine heartworm disease. By eliminating sources of standing water near your house, you will significantly reduce the number of young mosquitoes that develop into disease-carrying adults

Gardeners should take steps to protect themselves from biting mosquitoes and reduce mosquito breeding sites in the landscape. Early morning and late evening are often convenient times to garden. These are, unfortunately, peak times for mosquito activity, but this doesn’t mean you have to give up gardening.

Protect yourself

To protect yourself from mosquito bites, if possible, avoid working in the garden or sitting outside at dawn and dusk. When working outside, wear protective clothing, including light colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Use personal repellents or wear outdoor apparel made specifically to repel biting insects.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites

Inspect your home and yard for sources of standing water where mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae grow. Be vigilant — do not allow water to stand for over three days in potted plant saucers or pet bowls. Change the water in birdbaths twice weekly. For convenience, locate them near an outdoor faucet and hose.

Cover rain collecting barrels. Repair leaking exterior faucets, hose bibs and hose nozzles. Drain stumps or tree holes that contain water or fill them with sand or mortar. Alter landscape irrigation practices if necessary so that no runoff is produced. This not only eliminates curbside standing water in streets, but saves you money. Resting sites for adult mosquitoes may be diminished by reducing dense vegetation. Keeping lawns mowed can reduce adult resting sites.

Clean clogged gutters and downspouts which can become prime mosquito breeding pools. Dispose of or recycle containers, such as soda cans, buckets, tires, and plastic sheeting from around your home. Periodically empty the saucers under ceramic pots to make sure they are not harboring mosquito larvae. Empty children’s wading pools and other outside toys that may hold water.

In ponds or other areas where standing water cannot be removed, use larvicides. These products contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural bacteria.

Mosquitoes can have a great impact on the outdoor activity and well being of people and pets. Take a few precautionary steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites and reduce their breeding sites near your home.

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