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Natural Ways to Combat West Nile Mosquitos 

The West Nile Virus is spreading from Texas to Pennsylvania. Backyard barbecues have become stressful as parents worry if that nasty bite was from a mosquito carrying the disease. Although we spray ourselves with kid friendly bug repellents, the Mosquitos find that one-spot we missed. Pesticide sprays for mosquitos, such as pyrethrins, Pyrethoids, and Butoxides can cause health problems for those with asthma and allergies. Here are some more natural ways to reduce the mosquitos in your yard and some interesting research from Penn State.

First, get rid of standing water! Watch out for buckets, empty plant pots, kids toys and wheel barrels. Cut high grass, weedy & overgrown areas. Clean your rain gutters. Dirty rain gutters can collect water providing a great breeding ground for mosquitos. Clean your swimming pool covers which are also a great breeding ground if left on the ground. Fold it up and put it back in the garage when not in use.

To make your garden less enticing for mosquitos, there are several natural mosquito repelling plants that you can grow around your yard such as basil, lemongrass, citronella plant/grass, rosemary, marigolds, catnip, garlic, and mums. Spread them throughout your flowerbeds and in planters too.

To protect yourself and your kids, mix up a batch of Homemade All Natural Bug Spray: Mix about 15 drops of both citronella and lemongrass essential oil and 10-12 drops lavender, tea tree, or geranium essential oil in about 1½ cups of witch hazel. Pour into a clean spray bottle and enjoy a bug free day.

If you have a standing pond, you can purchase Mosquito Dunks, which is non toxic to human and animal bacteria. These tabs are sold at garden and home good stores. Place one tab in the water every 30 days to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

Also noteworthy in your arsenal of weapons against mosquitos is the common brown bat. Bats can eat anywhere from 600-1200 bugs an hour! That’s thousands of mosquitos per evening. From dusk to dawn these quiet creatures dart about gathering bugs. Bat boxes are slim and are best made with rough cedar wood. The bats enter from the bottom and huddle inside to stay warm. Bats like it hot, so painting your bat box black may encourage more bats. Install the bat box about 15-20 feet high on a pole or in a tree facing East. For about $25 you can purchase a hand made bat box on Ebay.

For more information on the West Nile infestation, visit Penn State online.
http://live.psu.edu/story/60822
For more details on how pesticides effect asthma
http://extension.psu.edu/ipm/resources/factsheets/asthma-2.pdf/view

Janet Millan
Editor
Sneezing in the Suburbs