Green Living Column
ECO-FRIENDLY MOSQUITO CONTROL
In light of the recent release of genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, there has been increased interest in disease vector control and what we can do to protect ourselves against mosquito-related health and safety threats. We all know that mosquitoes carry diseases, such as West Nile virus, malaria and dengue. Thus, it is quite natural that we want to be protected from mosquitoes as much as possible. However, the repellents containing the chemical DEET can give you headaches and even cause severe long-term health problems. Luckily, there are a number of products available these days that contain plant-derived ingredients, therefore using repellents with harsh chemicals is unnecessary. Besides, it is always better for both your health and the environment to choose more natural products.
Most of the time, you can repel mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects with products containing plant oils (for instance geranium citronella, tea tree, catnip, marigold, lemon balm, lavender and peppermint), oil of lemon eucalyptus (which is recommended by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention) or Picaridin. You can also put celery in a juicer and rub or spray the liquid on your skin before working in the garden.
Some outdoor equipment stores also offer ultrasonic mosquito repellents that use radio frequencies to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. These devices are portable and range from clips and wristbands that you can wear, or speakers that can be plugged in to keep pests away from your home, garden or tent. Choose a device from a reputable manufacturer and ensure that it comes with a warranty and an energy efficiency assurance.
The best mosquito control method, ultimately, is still prevention. You can hinder mosquitoes from breeding by keeping your lawn neat and the grass cut short (3 inches), keeping rain barrels and compost bins covered with a wire mesh cover, keeping your drains and gutters clean and emptying out and cleaning your potted plant bases and pet water dishes regularly. Use BT or bacillis thuringiensis israeliensis 'dunks' to kill mosquitoes in rain barrels, ponds and fountains, as it is a chemical-free repellent that releases a biological larvicide that kills mosquito larvae after they hatch. Try to stay away from aerosol sprays, bug zappers and other devices and chemicals, as they also kill many beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies and spiders. Keep mosquitoes out of your home by installing mosquito screens over all the windows and doors, and keep screen doors shut when you enter or exit your home.
Some overzealous homeowners might attempt to install bat houses. However, a few factors must be taken into consideration. Bats are choosy about where they choose to live and may not be attracted to the bat house. Also, bees may move into the bat house and build a hive in it instead. In addition, bat guano might bring with it health problems, especially to those with compromised immune systems. The best way to attract bats to eat mosquitoes in your area is probably to just let hollow trees remain on your property and not to use harsh chemicals or have excessive light and noise that will drive away bats.
Discussion: Have you ever tried any of the abovementioned methods, and how effective are they? Have you tried other mosquito control methods, and do you have suggestions and ideas to share? If so, please e-mail us at