Mosquitoes are nasty creatures. They bite, transmit terrible diseases to people and pets and, from what I read, have no redeeming value in the ecosystem.
Malaria, transmitted by the female mosquito, infects some 247 million people worldwide each year and, in 2018, killed 405,000 people. Mosquitoes spread yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, chikungunya virus and West Nile virus.
If that's not reason enough to hate them, they can turn a beautiful backyard, deck or patio into a nightmare area not fit for humans during mosquito season. But it doesn't have to be that way — provided you are diligent to take control of your home and property.
When I discovered we'd be dealing with mosquitoes here in northern Colorado, my research led to purchasing a DynaTrap.
This insect trap is engineered for three-way protection. First, an ultraviolet fluorescent bulb generates a warm light, attracting insects.
Then, a second lure: a titanium dioxide-coated surface produces harmless carbon dioxide, which mosquitoes find irresistible (no wonder they love you so much; you emit carbon dioxide, too).
Third, a powerful, whisper-quiet vacuum fan sucks insects into the retaining cage, where they dehydrate and die.
Every few weeks, I empty my mosquito morgue, I mean, trap. A full trap is proof positive that this thing is very effective. I've inspected carefully to see what's getting trapped, and while there are lot of moths, wasps and flies, mosquitoes win the highest population prize. DynaTrap is definitely not a bug zapper. No sizzle noises, odors or other annoyances.
SMOKE 'EM OUT
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, coffee grounds are a safe and effective way to keep pests away. The smoke from burning used ground coffee is especially effective to send mosquitoes away; they are seriously repelled by the smell, which, to humans, is quite subtle. Remember this outdoor trick for your new summer barbecue.
Start with completely dry, used coffee grounds. Place the grounds in a bowl or other flat surface lined with foil, and light them with a match, the way you would incense. Add a few fresh bay leaves to amplify your repellant. Set the containers(s) upwind to get the scent moving.
It is important to make sure mosquito repellent is applied to any exposed skin during mosquito season. Repellents that contain deet, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 are the most effective at warding off mosquitoes. Pregnant women, especially, should choose a repellent with Deet.
Health officials recommend Sawyer Picaridin, Natrapel 8 Hour and Off! Deep Woods VIII.
NATURAL, HOMEMADE REPELLENT
Mix 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil for every 10 parts witch hazel. Rub or spray on skin.
If you are going to be spending an evening outdoors, make sure to have adequate mosquito-repellent candles and torches nearby. Don't forget fuel.
Plant lavender with abandon. It's easy to grow, produces a beautiful flower and smells fantastic! Even better: Mosquitoes hate it and will stay away from it.
NO STANDING WATER
This is where mosquitoes breed by the millions. Birdbaths, fish ponds, puddles, flower-pot drip trays and dog dishes are prime reproduction grounds.
Empty or drain as much water as possible. If you can't drain a water source, try pouring a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil on top to deny access to mosquitoes and larvae. Note: Do not pour vegetable oil into fish ponds; it inhibits oxygen flow and can kill the fish.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
Photo credit: Chikilino at Pixabay