Friday, June 30, 2006

Mosquitos

It’s mosquito time again. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems like every year there are more of those nasty little insects buzzing around my yard. I don’t think they have a single redeeming quality. One website pointed out that they’re a source of food for some animals, but I’m pretty sure that frogs and birds would be just as happy munching on something else. Apparently, I’m not the only one with bugs on the brain-
Digging mentions them this morning, as well. I wonder if our lack of a real winter this year has anything to do with the overabundance of blood-suckers?

I’d really like to avoid spraying my back yard with poison, for the sake of my dogs, myself, my husband, and our local water supply. So, I’ve been poking around on the internet for natural ways to eradicate the little bastards.

I’ve noticed Purple Martin houses going up all over town. Word is, these birds can eat something like 2,000 mosquitoes a day and are a great way to control the pests naturally. I took a peek at the local company that’s putting up all of these gourd-type houses: For the low, low, price of $695, you too can host several purple martin families in your backyard. Now, if it works, I’d say it’s worth it. (Of course, you can find cheaper, less esthetically pleasing bird houses online.) However, I soon came across the Purple Martin organization’s website. Here’s what they have to say about the little birds and mosquito control:

“Martins, like all swallows, are aerial insectivores. They eat only flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, wasps, flying ants, and ballooning spiders. Martins are not, however, prodigious consumers of mosquitoes as is so often claimed by companies that manufacture martin housing. An intensive 7-year diet study conducted at PMCA headquarters in Edinboro, PA, failed to find a single mosquito among the 500 diet samples collected from parent martins bringing beakfuls of insects to their young. The samples were collected from martins during all hours of the day, all season long, and in numerous habitats, including mosquito-infested ones. Purple Martins and freshwater mosquitoes rarely ever cross paths. Martins are daytime feeders, and feed high in the sky; mosquitoes, on the other hand, stay low in damp places during daylight hours, or only come out at night.”

Now, aren’t you glad I pointed that out? So, on with our search…

According to several sources on the internet (which I’m too lazy to link you to; you know how to use Google if you want to read for yourself), natural predators of mosquitoes include some lizards, dragonflies, damselflies, bats, and some birds (though I’m not sure which ones). Standing water should be dumped at least weekly to prevent larvae from maturing. Fish (including goldfish, koi, and guppies) keep larvae out of ornamental ponds.
Another breeding ground that I haven’t even thought of…
Amy
suspects that mosquitoes could be breeding in her rain gutters.

One more thing… mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing.

Hope all of this helps those of you that are dealing with stupid freakin’ bugs right now. I’m going to do a little more research on bat houses… If anyone has experience with those, tell me about it. In the meantime, you might want to buy some shares in the company that makes OFF!, since they’ll be making a considerable chunk of dough off of me this year.

5 Comments:

Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Those slackers! Shortly after we moved here, we took down a decrepit martin house, which was only housing sparrows anyway.

Thanks for doing all the research!

June 30, 2006 10:43 AM  
Anonymous M Sinclair Stevens (Austin) said...

It's last week's rain that's brought the mosquitoes out. If you've got a lot of mulch, they're in there. In my yard, they seem especially attracted to the Texas native mulch. Whenever I loosen the mulch around a plant, they swarm up from it.

This has been hard on us this week since one wall of our house is being reconstructed. We currently have no distinction between indoors and outdoors right now.

June 30, 2006 11:58 AM  
Blogger r sorrell said...

Ah-ha! We've got mulch everywhere! I also noticed yesterday that there were lots of mosquitoes hovering around a bag of mulch that we haven't used yet.

This week was bad for us, too... the AC is out. So, we've got all of the windows open, and I think that bugs are getting in through holes in the screens. That, and my great dane enjoys standing outside the window, barking at me when he know's I'm inside and he's not.

June 30, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger trey said...

I wanted to point out a couple of products we carry here. They might be available where you live. It was featured in our last e-newsletter, which I will forward to you, if you will send you e-mail address to me. Just go to my website at www.thegoldengecko.com, and hit the e-mail button. That e-mail will come straight to me. There is a new mosquito repellent called “The Ultimate Insect Repellent” put out by the same people who put out “Liquid Fence” for deer. It contains no DEET and is all natural. I tried it and it seems to work, and does not have an offensive odor. I like it better than "OFF".

The second is “Mosquito Dunks” which are made up of special bacteria that only kill Mosquitoes larva, and do not harm other life forms. You put these “dunks” in any standing water, including bird baths, water features, ponds, etc. They last for thirty days and are very effective. We have used them for years in our water features and the cats drink out of the ponds all the time.

July 01, 2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I was getting all excited about the bats ... but they probably don't work either huh? I saw this on the Mother Earth website: "Many Mother Earth News readers report that keeping chickens, ducks or guineas reduces mosquitoes because the birds are natural mosquito predators." I don't think Mobile will let us keep those within city limits though.

My boss said that OFF Powerpad lanterns work but they have a warning on them: "Caution: Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Avoid breathing vapors." "If inhaled: Move person to fresh air. If person is not breathing, call 911 or an ambulance." Umm...no

Right now I just use Burt's Bee's insect repellent on my son. It's eucalyptus and lemongrass oil and it seems to help some.

Keep us updated on what you find!

July 06, 2006 7:48 AM  

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