Thursday, March 22, 2012

Choose Your Weapon

     This year so far south Mississippi has had a very mild but wet winter.  That does not give us much reprieve from the pest population.  Since we have been in full Spring mode for a few weeks now, I have noticed that this year is repeating 2001...another Year of the Mosquito.  Our property is sloped and low in the back, so when we have a heavy rain it pools and the nearby branch overflows and our yard will not drain for weeks.  This becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  We use the county given tablets for standing water, but the nearby branch is wooded and privately owned so we do not have the ability to treat those mosquitoes (short of throwing a tablet over the fence).  See picture below:
We have had a front blow through slowly that seemed to have stalled over us and dropped torrential amounts of rain in the last 24 hours and is still raining now.  Once this stops, I will go get another slew of tablets and toss out back to help protect us, but that is only a small portion of protection since most of them are coming out of the woods.
     I have heard some people say that mosquitoes do not bother them, well that is great!  That may be true, they may be bitter and not as tasty, or they may not feel them.  I on the other hand am sweet and will draw them in droves.  My entire family does also.  If you find that they do not bother you at all share your diet or blood type so we can learn and try to modify ourselves somehow.  Until then we must pick up arms and defend ourselves.
     I have been experimenting with homemade repellants.  I have several bottles of DEET to use and I will when needed, but I do like the idea of using something a little less toxic.  But these mosquitoes seem to be mutant and even get past the DEET for a bite or two!  Since we have to spray down from head-to-toe every day several times a day when we go work in the yard or want to sit in the swing, this routine use just cannot be great for you in the long run.  I have read many recipes and mixed up one for myself that has actually helped.  This year in this swarming season, I have taken on the combat approach.  I mixed up a bottle of 30% alcohol/70% water and added peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and lemon extract.  I tried to find a lemon grass plant or oil all over town, but could not.  I guess I will have to order it online or go to a large nursery.  I also am seeking citronella oil (not the burning kind but the scent oil).  I just threw in the lemon extract as a desperate measure until I find the lemongrass and citronella oil.
      I lit my citronella candles and placed them strategically around where we were going to be working.  I bought a Thermacell repellant  and an Off clip on fan.  I put the Thermacell near me and the clip on where my husband was working since he was not moving around as much.  I think my husband had already used the DEET and I sprayed myself down with my new mixture 1st as I went out to pot some marigold plants (said to repell mosquitoes) and it worked pretty good!  I would reapply it about every half hour to an hour because it was hot and I was sweaty and afraid I smelled louder than the spray.  Then I needed to work on the chicken coop which is along the fence line...this is enemy territory.  You can hear them swarming like bees.  The brush has grown through the fence.  So I sprayed again and added the DEET (I had had a citronella candle burning over there inside the coop for about 2 hours already.  I walked over with my supplies and began to work.  I could see them flying around my face, but at the end of the day, I think I may have 4 bites on me.  I was wearing a T-shirt, knee shorts, and socks/shoes.  I think I am going to go get me a few new citronella torches and I might even borrow my dads bug smoker.  We have not had to use them in a while but this year calls for more of a militant approach.
      Last year when we started the chicken coop, we sprayed with DEET alone every 30-45 minutes and still got ate up.  This year I think we will have to use a combination of defenses.  I personally do not believe that there is a "single" product out there tough enough to rid us of these dangerous pests.  I am a nurse and I have seen first hand what the West Nile Virus can do to you.  First of all, you must understand that it is a dormant virus.  The virus today is not from your bite this past was from a bite last year or years before.  Your body just had to have a weak moment for it to come out and manifest into an infection/illness.  Brain damage and death is a major complication from this virus, especially children, immune-compromised, and elderly.  You cannot give your family too much protection from these tiny but deadly pests.  They cause humans health risks and our pets as well.  I had a dog that developed a severe case of heart worms years ago...this is from the mosquito.  The worms can be killed but will still be present in their body.  This treatment cost well over $400.00 and is hard on the animal.  The phrase, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never been more accurate here.
     Do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your family including your pets.  Monthly animal protection is worth its weight in gold.  If one product works for you, great!  But if it takes more than that, by George, use every resource available, even if you have to screen in that beloved porch.  Soon I hope to get that fence row cleared off about 10-15 feet and that should help some.  Nothing is more precious than life.  These creatures are near about enough to make me move back to the desert.  If you have found something that works great share it please.  There are many that suffer from them more than others.  From the land of the mosquito, I am choosing my weapons, what are yours?
God bless you all,
Marla B.

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