Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mosquitoes Part One

Since Creek Cottage Homestead has been inundated with mosquitoes lately I started researching the best ways to deter them.  Unfortunately it seems the only really effective way is with poisons/chemicals and that is just not acceptable to me.  There is not one "natural" solution that can be called the end all of mosquitoes.  There are, however, many different ways to deter them that when employed all together just might make outside living a little more tolerable.

1. Don't give them places to lay their eggs. Make sure to empty toys, birdbaths, kiddie pools every few days.  Keep your grass cut!

2. Employ predators: chickens, bats, purple martins and dragonflies.  Each species will help but don't expect them to totally clear up the population.  Chickens are limited to where you keep them.  Bats will eat the skeeters but will usually go for the biggest bugs it can find which might not be mosquitoes and it can take up to a year for bats to settle into bat houses. Purple martins are daytime eaters and mosquitoes are early morning and evening creatures.  Dragon flies need a clean, fresh, permanent source of water to live near and it is not recommended that you purchase them.  You either have the habitat for them or you don't.

3.Employ cultivated plants: Citronella/West Indian Lemongrass, bee balm/horsemint, marigolds, Ageratum/flossflowers (Ageratum is not to be rubbed on the skin.) Catnip, Scented geraniums, Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemon balm, Garlic, Clove, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Lavender.

4. Employ wild plants: Vanilla Leaf, Sagebrush, wormwood, mugwort, Pinapple weed, nodding onion, bergamot, snowbrush, sweet fern, cedar

The plants in three and four really work best when crushed and rubbed on your body but just their presence around outside areas where you like to gather may be enough to keep yourself at least slightly less itchy.  Take note of what you plant.  Some plants may not overwinter well and will need to be planted in containers so they may be put inside or in a greenhouse .  Any plant with attractive flowers will attract wasps and bees. It may be best to not put them on table tops or up close to where people will be sitting.

Tomorrow I will discuss how to avoid being bitten in Mosquitoes Part two!

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