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Don’t Let Mosquitoes Steal Your Summer Fun

July/August 2014

The Plant Ladies, Sheila Hollander and Margie Kaul are at it again, this time taking your questions concerning that pesky Riverwoods summer resident, the mosquito.

I want to enjoy my yard, but I worry about mosquito-borne diseases. Am I being paranoid?

Besides being annoying, mosquitoes can spread West Nile Virus, which can cause encephalitis or meningitis. In 2012, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported a record number of deaths from West Nile Virus; 286 people died in the contiguous U.S. that year. Mosquitoes also can spread heartworm parasites in our pets. So doing something about mosquitoes is being proactive not paranoid.

How can I prevent mosquito bites?

There are several things that you can do to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay:

  • Wear light-colored clothing, cover up your arms and legs, and wear socks, especially between dusk and dawn. Dark colors, like red, blue and black, are especially attractive to mosquitoes
  • Avoid scented perfumes or lotions
  • Use mosquito repellants. The CDC recommends DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. Some other repellants that studies show will work to repel mosquitoes include the natural repellants neem oil and citronella oil. Be sure to check Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations on the use of mosquito repellants and, which ever type of repellant you use, be careful to follow the instructions on the label. A Gardener’s Tip: to prevent a chance of skin irritation, spray your clothes and hat with the mosquito repellant, rather than spraying your skin
  • Check the screens on your windows and doors to be sure they fit securely and there are no holes.

Is there anything I can do to protect my guests when I have a party in my yard?

Strategically place fans on your deck or patio to blow away those lightweight mosquitoes. It works like a charm. Also, replace the standard light bulbs by your doors with LEDs, yellow bug lights or sodium lamps.

What can I do to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the first place?

Mosquito larvae need stagnant water and decaying vegetation. If you eliminate the breeding sites in your yard you’ll get rid of the mosquitoes before they have a chance to become a nuisance. Some breeding sites include buckets, drums, watering cans, discarded tires, sunken parts of your lawn, rotted tree stumps, and boats.

Remember to regularly change the water in your bird bath and wading pool. It’s also important to keep roof gutters and downspouts free of clogs, and cover trash containers.

Drain water from boats or store them upside down. Drain the water from unused swimming pools, including kiddie wading pools.

Will insecticide sprays, insect zappers, and citronella candles repel mosquitoes?

According to the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District, spraying with an insecticide only works for a short time, insect zappers and sound devices are minimally effective and may kill helpful insects, and citronella candles provide little help and only if you stay close to the product.

Also, there is little evidence that attracting birds or bats to an area to eat mosquitoes actually works or that wearing electromagnetic devices, stuffing your pockets with dryer sheets, or taking Vitamin B will prevent mosquito bites.

For more information contact the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District at or 1-800-942-2555.

If you have questions about a topic related to Riverwoods, don’t hesitate to send in your questions to the Village Voice. We’ll see that the plant ladies receive your letter or email.

Here’s a tip to stop mosquito breeding in your yard - Empty unused swimming pools. And change the water in wading pools at least weekly.

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