By Jakob Barry
Mosquitoes are here. Now that the warm season has set in I find myself once again being annoyed by mosquitoes around my home. That’s because shortly after the last frost they awoke from their winter slumber, started breeding, and now buzz around just about everywhere.
What’s the best way to deal with these little pests? I’ve found that there are a number of standard sprays on the market but most don’t have pleasing odors and more importantly contain DEET, a chemical that not only bothers mosquitoes but sometimes causes illnesses in people.
To avoid DEET but improve my predicament, the first thing I focus on is prevention.
Practically speaking, if mosquitoes are breeding near the home, the likelihood of them entering is high. For this reason the first line of defense against mosquitoes should be to make life difficult by limiting something mosquitoes need for propagation: water.
It sounds a little cruel but necessary.
This could be tricky if you live near swamps or marshes but at the very least clearing away standing water helps. This includes pots from gardening and other random containers that easily fill with rain and provide an open invitation to mosquitoes everywhere.
At the same time checking certain areas connected to the home may prove useful. Two examples where water sometimes gathered on my home were gutters clogged from leaves and branches and the roof where an occasional hole would open up from regular wear and tear. (I don’t like climbing on tall ladders, but my neighbor was kind enough to clue me in on these problems for me.)
Ripped screens on windows and doors are another area where mosquitoes have easy indoor access. Unless the entire screen needs to be repaired professionally, small gashes are fairly simple to patch.
Although I’ve had success with the preventative measures above, in the end, some mosquitoes will get past that first line of defense. That’s when a safe repellent lacking DEET is needed because, although stopping these pests from
invading your space is the goal, it’s important not to contaminate the environment or play with your health.
Some natural options I’ve tried include the following:
• Citronella candles: Mosquitoes and a few other insects hate the smell of citronella. These candles work well but must be supervised because of the open flame. If you choose citronella, make sure that the brand is made from natural ingredients, as many contain chemical additives.
• Essential oils: Made from a variety of herbs, these oils can be applied to clothing or directly on the skin. Just take care to test a small portion of skin first in case of allergies. Essential oils wear off after a few hours and need to be reapplied more often but are better than anything that contains DEET.
• Mosquito coils: Incense in a spiral form, mosquito coils are great for a barbeque on the deck or for when sitting out under the stars in the backyard.
NOTE: Whichever product you purchase be sure to read instructions carefully as even things eco-friendly can affect us negatively when used improperly.
Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for http://www.Networx.com. He blogs about Green topics for exterminators across the U.S. including.