Summer bugs are on their way, or in some cases, may already be taking up residence in your yard and home. The top three bugs that plague us in the Spring and Summer are: mosquitoes, ants, and flies. They are the wet blankets to outdoor and indoor activities. They make us want to reach for the bug spray.
Reaching for the bug spray and hiring companies to shower our lawns with poison however, though tempting, isn’t a sustainable solution. If we use potent chemicals to kill off the bugs, we damage our air, soil and water as well as indiscriminately destroying the bug population we need to pollinate our flowers, trees, and bushes, feed the wildlife, and provide nutrient rich soil in which to grow our food. We need bugs for our very existence. Since we can’t live without them, we need to find solutions that balance our comfort and their safety, so that we can maintain the balance of nature that sustains us.
The next three Blogs will focus on sustainable solutions to our frenemies, the bugs.
Mosquitoes are a blight on the world. They make being outside in the summer a choice between spraying deet on us and our children or being chewed alive. They bread disease, killing more than 1 million people every year. What role do they play in our ecosystem anyway? Studies have even been done to see if the world would survive if they were extinct. Isn’t’ that incredible? Mosquitoes are despised so much, that scientists have actually researched the possibility of life without them.
In their research they have discovered that mosquitoes aren’t as bad as we think and play an important role in our ecosystem. Out of the 3,500 different species of mosquitoes, only 100 of them target humans. Of the 100 species that target humans, only the females bite. It would be unfair to target all of the mosquitoes for the 2-3% that bother us.
In addition, mosquitoes are food sources, pollinators (who knew?), and a force that drives the evolution of defense mechanisms in other species (like pushing the musk ox to develop skin so thick a mosquito can’t penetrate). Bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other insects rely on them as a source of food. There are 100 species of fish that actually feed on them to survive. Aquatic plants rely on them as a source of nutrients for their growth. Removing these bugs would have a large environmental impact.
So- how do we live with them?
Prevention and Creative Solutions
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Mosquitoes need water to hatch and lay their eggs. Check out your yard, and dump out any standing water in pots, or puddles. Check your spigots to make sure they aren’t leaking and creating a standing puddle. Clean your gutters so rain water can flow freely off your roof instead of pooling at the spot of dead leaves and debris.
If you can’t get rid of standing water, then sprinkle mosquito bits in and around the water and even flower beds. Mosquito bits have BTI which are naturally occurring spores that produce toxins that target mosquito larvae, black flies, and gnats. Mosquito bits aren’t harmful to birds, fish, pollinators, insects, pets, horses, or livestock.
Once you have your preventative measures in place, develop a creative solution to the mosquitoes that are already harassing you.
- Add fans to your outdoor dining. Place these fans where you hang out or eat. One of the added benefits of these fans is that you can bring them with you to other venues too. I saw a woman use one at our community pool. It kept not only mosquitoes away, but also biting flies
- Invite natural predators to your yard.
- Deter them from biting with plants and ecofriendly bug spray.
- Use Organic Sprays that repel, not harm, mosquitoes.
Put up a few bird feeders bird feeders, grow native plants, that attract birds (black eyed susans attract finches), and consider adding a bat box. (Individual bats eat up to 7,000 insects nightly.)
Mint, basil, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds, geranium, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemongrass all repel mosquitoes with their smell. Put some in pots in the area where you sit or plant some around the yard to create a force field against the mosquitoes.
Eco-Friendly Bug Spray:
Gather the following essential oils: eucalyptus, rosemary, cloves, basil, and peppermint. Add a few drops of each to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray yourself and keep the mosquitoes away. If making your own solution is too much effort, order one already made like: Murphy’s Naturals: Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent
NO Mosquitoes is a local company that offers organic repellant for your yard.
You may be skeptical about these solutions, but if you care for your safety and appreciate the great outdoors, give these tips a try for a season and see if you can live in balance with nature and all of its friends. You may be surprised how effective and fun it will be.
Barefoot Mosquito. Barefoot Mosquito and Pest Control. Accessed 12 May 2023. Barefootmosquito.com
Extermpro. Will A Bat House Get Rid of Mosquitoes in my Yard? Accessed: 12 May 2023.
Kocan, Elizabet. Eco-Friendly Mosquito control Tactics that Actually Work. Home and Garden. 18 April 2022. Reviewed.usatoday.com
Marsh, Jane. Why Sustainable Pest Control Is Essential for the Planet. E-Magazine. 15 February 2021. Emagazine.com
Wildlife Acoustics. 5 Tips to Help Attract Bats to Your Backyard. 18 June 2022. Wildlife Acoustics.com