Mosquitoes are nasty creatures. They bite, transmit terrible diseases, and from what I've read have no unique or redeeming value in the ecosystem. And if that's not reason enough to hate them, during mosquito season they can turn a beautiful backyard, deck or patio into a nightmarish area for humans. But it doesn't have to be that way provided you are diligent in taking control of your home and property.
MOSQUITO TRAP. It's been more than a year since our big move, and when I realized we were going to have a mosquito problem here in northern Colorado my research knew no bounds. Given the size of our property I purchased a Dynatrap. I've been using it since — it is fantastic. It emits harmless carbon dioxide, which mosquitoes find irresistible (no wonder they love humans so much — we emit CO2). Powered by electricity, my Dynatrap has a water tray that also attracts mosquitoes and a fan that sucks the unsuspecting critters into the trap. Every few weeks I empty my mosquito morgue — I mean trap — and am amazed by how successful it is. The Dynatrap is as quiet as a whisper. And it's definitely not a bug zapper. There are no sizzling noises, odors or other annoyances. I have yet to replace the UV fluorescent lightbulb, but I will need to at some point.
REPELLANT. It is important to make sure that you apply mosquito repellent to any exposed skin during mosquito season. Repellant that contains DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil or IR3535 are the most effective at warding off mosquitoes. Pregnant women especially should choose a repellant with DEET, as long as it's applied properly.
Consumer Reports recommends Sawyer Picaridin, Natrapel 8 Hour and Off! Deepwoods VIII as the best at keeping the bugs at bay.
NATURAL HOMEMADE REPELLANT. Mix 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil with 10 parts witch hazel. Rub or spray on skin
NIGHT PROTECTION. If you are going to be spending an evening outdoors, make sure to have adequate mosquito-repellent candles and torches. And don't forget fuel.
PLANT LAVENDER. Provided it grows in your area, plant lavender with abandon. It's easy to grow, it produces a beautiful flower, and it smells fantastic! But most importantly, mosquitoes hate it and will stay away.
STANDING WATER. This is where mosquitoes breed in the thousands. Birdbaths, fishponds, puddles and even flowerpots and dog dishes are all prime breeding 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 fishponds, for it inhibits oxygen flow and can kill the fish.
CLEAN YARD. Keep your yard clean and your vegetation under control. Mosquitoes prefer densely vegetated areas where they are protected from sun, wind and rain. Keep your lawn well-trimmed, and clear out piles of brush where moisture can accumulate. Rake up leaves and dispose of them when they start accumulating. For links to the products mentioned above and more information make sure to visit the Everyday Cheapskate website.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.