, Port Arthur, Texas

September 19, 2012

The buzz about dealing with mosquitoes

Micah Shanks
The Port Arthur News

— We all know that the real Texas state bird is the mosquito, right?

It has been said that nothing was created without a purpose, but the mosquito must come close. Besides just ruining an otherwise pleasant outdoor evening, they can ruin your health! We are all aware by now that they carry West Nile virus and malaria.

So what’s the best way to protect yourself? Consider the following: Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so limit your time outside during those hours. Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible.

Several clothing products are being introduced that actually have repellent in them.  You can reduce the population of mosquitos in your yard by simply keeping the grass cut and reducing the amount of standing water. For water in a pond or gutter that you can’t or don’t want to get rid of, use a larvicide or Mosquito Dunks, a biological product that kills larvae but does not harm fish and other animals.

You can also use  bug repelling lanterns as well as citronella candles or oil torches. And, of course, use a good repellent, preferable one with DEET which provides the longest lasting protection.

At my house, I have several bottles of repellent placed around the yard so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to hunt for one. If you prefer a more natural repellent, use products that contain oil of lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and/or clove oils. Plant a beautyberry  which has for years been used as a repellent and is now being studied by researchers. (Isn’t it funny how grandma’s home remedies are always “suddenly discovered” by science?)  

Don’t let mosquitos spoil your time with Mother Nature.  Some simple precautions can make your time outdoors a wonderful experience.

Micah Shanks is a certified Jefferson County Master Gardener, in association with Texas Agrilife Extension. Contact her at .