Bugs Bite

By Sharon Naylor

March 6, 2015 4 min read

Few things are more annoying than mosquitoes, especially when you have a great outdoor terrace and pool area you'd like to enjoy without itchy memories. Even worse than those itchy bumps are the diseases that can be transmitted by mosquito bites. The New York State Department of Health says that several species of mosquitoes can transmit eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus and other viral infections that can cause serious illness and even death. That said, there are many ways to reduce the amount of mosquitoes in your yard:

"The most effective way to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home is to find and eliminate their breeding sites: standing water," say the experts at University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

--Dispose of old buckets and watering cans that you may leave out as decor in your gardens; these receptacles hold water, providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Empty accumulated water from trash cans, wheelbarrows and flower pot bottoms. Even small collections of water can give mosquitoes a place to breed. Included in this are pet water dishes. Bring them in after use, and only put them out when your pet will need a drink. Turn all empty receptacles over when not in use.

--Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.

--Empty out wading pools and store them away when not in use.

--Keep swimming pools well-maintained and chlorinated; dirty pool water can attract mosquitoes.

--If you have ornamental ponds, make sure they're aerated and stocked with mosquito-eating fish. Water movement helps ward off mosquitoes, because the insects prefer quiet, non-moving water for their egg-laying and development, say University of Kentucky experts.

--Fill or drain any swampy areas in your yard to eliminate standing water. Tree holes and septic tank depressions can be ideal breeding grounds.

--If your children or pets like to play with old tires, such as a tire swing, remove these from your yard, since the shape of tires creates an ideal setting for mosquito breeding.

--On a regular basis, have your gutters cleaned. Gutters and clogged storm drains attract mosquitos, so having a professional do the job is a sound investment. Use caution if you're planning to clear out your own.

--Repair leaking outdoor faucets, and dispose of leaky garden hoses.

--Water your lawn carefully, without creating puddles and muddy patches.

Talk to your garden center about recommended organic insecticides. You'll be instructed on the proper application of insecticides, such as applying them to lower limbs of trees using a garden hose sprayer. Or, you might opt to hire a professional lawn service company to undertake this task for you, using approved and safe chemicals.

Generally, bug zappers don't reduce mosquito populations by much. They target larger insects like moths instead. Therefore, these may not be ideal as your sole tactic to reduce mosquitoes in your yard, say the experts at University of Kentucky.

Citronella candles and oils can provide some relief, especially when used in sitting areas. And those with a pleasant smell can add to the spring and summertime ambiance of your outdoor play and entertainment. Scout out organic citronella products, and keep small children and pets away from these and other mosquito repellant products.

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