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May 24, 2012

10 Natural Ways to Control your Mosquito Population.

Photo: Henrique Ribeiro

I’m guessing, like me, you’re not a big fan of mosquitoes.

I live in a wooded area with a fair number of creeks and ponds, so mosquitoes are very prolific. It makes going outside the closest I’ll ever come to all out warfare. I hope.

Short of explosives and nasty pesticides, what are we to do? Here are 10 natural ways to help prevent those f*ckers them from procreating and taking over our backyards.

  1. Remove, turn over or cover any container that can hold water, such as tin cans, buckets, ceramic pots, plastic covers and toys.
  2. Store unused tires inside a garage or shed, or drill drainage holes in them.
  3. Change water often (at least once a week) in birdbaths, fountains, wading  pools, potted plant trays and watering troughs.
  4. Keep water off swimming pool covers. Maintain water quality in the pool. Drain wading pools regularly.
  5. Make sure roof gutters are draining properly. Clean any debris out once a year.
  6. Drain (or fill with dirt) unneeded or unwanted pools or puddles.
  7. Clear obstructions to promote flow of water in catch basins and storm drains.
  8. Fill tree holes with sand or mortar.
  9. Avoid over irrigation of your lawn. (Better yet, forget it all together!)
  10. Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.

Here are some additional precautions you can take:

  1. Check that your window and door screens are “bug tight.” Repair or replace if needed.
  2. Don’t plan outdoor activities during times when mosquito activity is high (dusk to dawn). That is not a good option for me.
  3. If you go to places with lots of mosquitoes, wear a long sleeved shirt and long  pants. Light colors are the best.
  4. Head nets can also be helpful and are also great conversation pieces.
  5. Replace outdoor lighting with yellow “bug” CFL lights.

Be sure to select DEET-Free repellents—DEET can be dangerous to your health—but beware of Picaridin. Even though the CDC says Picaridin is an acceptable alternative to DEET, it contains 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropylester). Chemicals that I’d rather not spray it on my skin, the largest organ of my body.  Since the CDC also lists DEET as a good repellent, I don’t exactly trust their acceptance of Picaridin.

If you need a repellent and you need it now, find one with Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (organic, if possible!), which CDC has evaluated and deemed a natural ingredient that provides reasonably long-lasting protection.

Be sure check out my post about plants that deter mosquitoes.

If you’re ever wondering about the safety of a product or ingredient, here’s a great resource:

Pesticide Action Network. Search for chemicals, pesticides and specific brand name products in their database (not limited to mosquito sprays!).They also have some great information on how to manage pests on people and pets.

Adapted from my blog, I Count for myEARTH.

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