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Don't Let Mosquitoes Steal Your Summer Fun

July/August 2015

The Plant Ladies are at it again, this time taking your questions concerning that pesky Riverwoods summer resident, the mosquito. (reprint from Summer 2014)

I want to enjoy my yard, but I worry about mosquito-borne diseases. Am I being paranoid?

Besides being annoying, mosquitoes can spread West Nile Virus, which can cause encephalitis or meningitis. In 2012, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported a record number of deaths from West Nile Virus; 286 people died in the contiguous U.S. that year. Mosquitoes also can spread heartworm parasites in our pets. So doing something about mosquitoes is being proactive not paranoid.

How can I prevent mosquito bites?

There are several things that you can do to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay:
– Wear light-colored clothing, cover up your arms and legs, and wear socks, especially between dusk and dawn. Dark colors, like red, blue and black, are especially attractive to mosquitoes.
– Avoid scented perfumes or lotions.
– Use mosquito repellants. The CDC recommends DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. Some other repellants that studies show will work to repel mosquitoes include the natural repellants neem oil and citronella oil. Be sure to check Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations on the use of mosquito repellants and, which ever type of repellant you use, be careful to follow the instructions on the label. A Gardener’s Tip: to prevent a chance of skin irritation, spray your clothes and hat with the mosquito repellant, rather than spraying your skin.
– Check the screens on your windows and doors to be sure they fit securely and there are no holes.

Is there anything I can do to protect my guests when I have a party in my yard?

Strategically place fans on your deck or patio to blow away those lightweight mosquitoes. It works like a charm. Also, replace the standard light bulbs by your doors with LEDs, yellow bug lights or sodium lamps.

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