There is nothing quite like the long, hot days of summer. The desire to be outdoors can be overwhelming, in spite of the dangers and risks associated with mosquito bites. Gone are the days when a mosquito bite meant nothing more than an annoying itch and a small, temporary bump. These days, there are serious and potentially deadly diseases associated with these small bites, such as Zika or West Nile virus. A good repellent spray can be effective, but have you ever read one of those labels? The list of chemicals and toxins can be scarier than the insect itself! Isn’t it about time that we had a more natural mosquito control methods at our disposal?
The good news is that we do. Today there are a variety of good, non-chemical methods of mosquito control. All we have to do is find them. From traps to biological enemies, we have a whole assortment of mosquito control options at our fingertips. Let’s take a look at what these options are, and how they work:
First, let us look at mosquito traps. A trap is a device which lures and contains an unwanted nuisance for death or disposal. There are several styles of traps. The one which I would like to highlight is a thermo-CO2 device. This trap uses heat and carbon dioxide to lure the pests into the trap where they are snagged in a fine net or a sticky trap. These traps are limited to a specific area, but can be quite effective. Next, we can use herbal lawn sprays.
These are solutions derived from plants that help to repel mosquitoes from your yard when sprayed over your lawn with the use of a garden hose. This treatment is very safe and effective, but lasts for a period of a few months before needing to be reapplied. Then, there is bio control. That’s right, one of the most technologically advanced methods of mosquito bite prevention is the employment of biological agents to curb the growth and multiplication of mosquito colonies by destroying their larval communities.
Types of Natural Mosquito Control
There are small bacteria that mosquito larvae will eat. After they eat these larvae, the bacteria attack the digestive systems of the mosquito larvae killing them quickly. Entire colonies can be wiped out in a single hour. Use any of these treatments where there is standing water or continuously moist soil.
Garlic Mosquito Spray
Garlic mosquito sprays can be a very effective means of ridding your yard of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, like most insects, are repelled by the aroma of garlic. Some people recommend eating lots of garlic to make themselves less tasty to mosquitoes.Generally, this is not an effective technique. To be effective, you would have to consume huge
quantities of the most potent garlic you could find, and eat it often enough to keep the potent oils in your system at all times.
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why being on a garlic diet is not very desirable. Sure, you are desperate to avoid bites, but if you ate enough garlic to repel mosquitoes, you would repel just about anything else with a nose! At that level, you, your clothes and your home would reek. You might get rid of a few obnoxious co-workers, though.
On the other hand, a very potent garlic mosquito spray is effective for landscape use. Organic gardeners have traditionally used garlic sprays, garlic powder and garlic plantings to repel insects, mice, deer, raccoon’s and rabbits. Home made garlic concoctions work fine for protecting plant leaves, but are not strong enough to create an aroma in the atmosphere to be effective as true garlic mosquito sprays that actually repel them.
There is a commercial preparation available that is quite effective. It works because it is very strong, highly concentrated and contains over 99.3% pure garlic juice. It helps to repel mosquitoes in three ways.
Like other soft bodied insects, the sulphur oil in powerful garlic juice is fatally toxic on contact. So, any mosquitoes touched in spraying will die.Because it is fatal, the mosquitoes will avoid the odor as long as they can detect it. Mosquitoes have a much more heightened olfactory sense than humans and can detect this spray for a much longer period of time than humans. They will stay away from treated areas for a month or more. The spray is not harmful to humans, pets, birds or bees.
And, aside from chasing away adult mosquitoes, if soybean or canola oil is added before application, it will form a film on any standing water and suffocate any mosquito larvae growing there. But don’t use oil if you are spraying a pond with fish.
It also effective for repelling ticks, when properly applied. Four applications is usually enough to protect an average home for the entire mosquito season. And, it is best applied at least 48 hours before rain is predicted. Adding soybean or canola oil and a small amount of soap to the spray prolongs effectiveness.
When this garlic mosquito spray is freshly applied, the aroma is very pungent, but it not even detectable after 30 minutes. Of course, the added advantage is that you will repel other insects and critters that would also use your landscape plants as a snack bar. Garlic is also an effective treatment for several plant diseases and viruses, as an added plus.
Commercial products are sold in fairly large quantities, but stores for up to two years in a cool dry place. Don’t plan to take this one on a beach outing, though. This garlic mosquito spray is pretty much limited to home landscape use.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officialinalis) has a long history of use as a natural
insect repellant, along with culinary and medicinal use. It is native to the chalky hills surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, where it grows best. It can grow as large as four feet, in a preferred habitat. It has narrow, pointed leaves with
release a strong, but pleasant aroma when crushed.Aside from Mediterranean countries, the United States and United Kingdom are now major producers as well.
While it is very drought tolerant, it dislikes soggy, poorly drained soil and prefers rocky or sandy soils with adequate drainage. It blooms profusely in early spring, covering itself with pale blue flowers. Bees frequent the plant for its nectar, which is a boon because little else blooms that time of year. Honey from bees feeding on the plant is quite tasty. Many plant diseases or pests do not challenge Rosemary, but it is not cold hardy.
It is harvested for both culinary use and for preparation of essential oils. It is taken from both wild and cultivated plants. After Harvest, the leaves are allowed to dry in shaded areas. This helps to preserve aroma and color.
Dried rosemary leaves are used for seasoning a variety of dishes, and sometimes the stems are used as skewers for shish kebobs. It is also used in potpourri. The leaves and oil have antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The oil is often combined with water to mist sick rooms and clear bacteria from the air.
The essential oil contains cineole, pinene, camphor, bornylacetate, camphene, linalool, d-limonene, borneal, myrcene, terpineol, and –caroyophyllene. The oil is extracted from all parts of the plant growing above the ground. The oil is
prepared by steam distillation, or by leaching with organic compounds.
Aside from its long history of use and an insect repellent, it is used medicinally as a disinfectant agent, a stimulant, and to improve memory. It has been reported for use in treating cancer.
All in all, if you live where rosemary will grow readily, it is a handy addition to your arsenal of natural mosquito repellents. It has a fresh aroma you will enjoy; it is an attractive landscape plant. And you will have some left over for the kitchen too.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has a long history of use as a skin soothing salve. In 1770, Captain James Cook, of the British Royal Navy, landed in Australia and eventually his expedition came to what is now New South Wales. The native aborigines
showed him how to make a tea that helped block scurvy. The natives told Capt Cook and
his crew members about the healing power of the tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia). They had used the leaves for centuries for a wide variety of ills, such as cuts, wounds, colds and other systemic diseases.
Later, when Europeans began settling in Australia, they learned about the healing nature of the leaves, and began using them as a folk remedy. Over time, the scientific community became intrigued by the tea tree plant and began
research into it’s medicinal usefulness.
Even early research revealed that it was a powerful antiseptic bactericide and by World War II, it was used, with great success, to treat a debilitating foot fungus in Australian military personnel. Originally, the plant was native only to a small area in New South Wales, but the worldwide demand for the oil is so great, thousands of trees have been planted for oil production. Tea tree oil is now recognized as an effective treatment for cuts, burns, abrasions, insect
bites, athlete’s foot, infections, sunburn, and acne.
The healing agent in tea tree oil is terpinene and, to be effective, any oil you buy should
contain at least 30% of terpinen-4-ol. Tea tree oil can be used undiluted and does not need to be mixed with carrier oils, such as olive or almond oil. For use on babies or young children, though, you should dilute the oil in a carrier.
On pets, use only on areas of the body which cannot be licked, as it has been found to be
toxic if ingested by some animals. In humans, the oil should not be ingested. While it is not considered toxic, it is meant for external use only. While it is true that the aborigines and Capt. Cook did ingest a tea
made from the leaves, the oil is much more concentrated and there is no guarantee of
safety if it is ingested.