Mosquitos are a nuisance. No matter where you live, you've likely encountered these flying pests that suck your blood and leave itchy bite wounds. In fact, with the rise of the Zika virus in recent years, mosquitos are more than a nuisance in some areas. Zika, West Nile and malaria, all carried by types of mosquitoes, are serious concerns for people across the globe. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even approved the lab creation oflast year to kill those that carry Zika. The Gates Foundation also to kill mosquitos known to carry malaria.
When it comes to protecting yourself from these pesky and sometimes perilous insects, there are several options. Here are a few methods of mitigation to make sure burgers are the only things bitten at your next barbecue.
Start with your surroundings
Before you slather yourself with bug spray, take time to make your backyard or outdoor space less inviting to mosquitos. Eliminate any standing, stagnant water where mosquitos could breed. That includes places like buckets, gutters, play sets or plastic covers.
If you have items outdoors that need water, like bird baths, fountains or rain barrels, empty any excess water you can and change out the water at least once a week to keep it fresh. If you have a pool, be sure to keep the water properly treated and circulated.
Grow your garden
If you're looking for a chemical-free approach to repelling mosquitos, potted plants and a few additions to your garden can go a long way. It's the essential oils inside these plants that truly repels mosquitos, and those oils are released when the leaves are crushed, burned or rubbed directly onto skin. Here's a list of plants thought to keep mosquitos at bay with their scents and essential oils:
- Citronella grass
- Lemon balm
- Scented geraniums
Adjust your wardrobe
It's probably not the advice you'd like to hear in the hot summer months, but donning long sleeves, socks and pants is one way to protect against mosquito bites. Fabric can act as a barrier, making it more difficult for mosquitos to reach your skin in the first place. If long sleeves and pants aren't your summer style, tucking in your shirt is still a good idea.
Consider a repellent spray or device
If you're not bothered by the idea of a chemical solution (and we don't blame you if you are), there are dozens of sprays, wristbands and mosquito-repelling wearables on the market. The Guarden Bandito, a crowdfunded wearable uses scent and sound to repel mosquitos.
If you're stuck deciding what you need in a repellent, the EPA has a search tool to help you find the right fit for your situation. Which ones are most effective? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using an EPA-registered product with one of the following active ingredients for maximum repelling power:
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
If you're pregnant, nursing or have a small child, it's important to take extra care when applying chemicals on or near the skin. Visit the CDC's website for tips on applying repellents safely.
Invest in a misting system
Misting systems are one way to seriously wage war against mosquitos on your property. These systems are made up of nozzles connected via tubing to a tank that holds an insecticide. The nozzles, set around the perimeter of your yard, spray a fine mist of insecticide to kill and repel mosquitos. Automatic spraying occurs in timed intervals, or you can activate the system through a remote control. Misting is thought to be safe for households with children and pets, and there are all natural misting solutions, but it's still recommended that you avoid the area while the actual misting is taking place.
This method of repeated spraying is effective, but it doesn't come cheap. DIY versions costs several hundred dollars, while full-service, professionally installed systems can cost as much as $5,000 for a quarter-acre lot. Still, if you have a serious problem with pests, you might be happy to trade your dollars for comfort. For more information on misting and how insecticides are regulated in your state, read the EPA's guide.
Try these methods to find the right solution for your space. Whether it's potted plants or potent sprays, you can enjoy a mosquito-free space all summer.
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