Watching a mosquito buzzing around your child is a different experience than it used to be!
Here are some effective and safer alternatives for both your body and the outside environment.
Mosquitoes can carry West Nile-like virus, and a handful of people have died from the disease in the New York City area. Crows have dropped dead from the virus in my county and others in NY State.
The virus has made repelling mosquitoes from our bodies and keeping them from hatching in the environment the focus of much interest, and unfortunately many are resorting to toxic repellents containing DEET and the organophosphate pesticide malathion, both suspected neuroxicants.
Health food stores now carry a wide variety of herbal bug repellents. Good herbs that repel mosquitoes and took look for in products include basil, eucalyptus, cloves, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm (citronella), onions, garlic, and feverfew. A Victor Poison-Free non-poisonous mosquito spray and Victor Poison-Free Mosquito Barrier which contains garlic, water, potassium sorbate, can be ordered online. Victor Pest.
You can make your own repellent with essential oils with this recipe:
Mosquito Repellent Oil
10 drops essential oil (see list of herbs, above, for choices)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar; stir to blend. Dab a few drops on your skin or clothing.
Note: Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before using essential oils.
The Outdoor Environment
I have to admit I always thought mosquitoes traveled from swamps, but according to expert William Olkkowski of the Bio Integral Resource Center, the “chances are very good that the pests are being produced within a few yards of where you are bitten.” Flower pots, old tires, roof gutters, jars, pet dishes, bird houses, plastic weed coverings in gardens — any place with still, standing water is conducive to mosquito hatchings, and the water should be removed from all of these places.
An over-the-counter product called “Mosquito Dunks” is recommended as a least-toxic material for outdoor mosquito control by Erik Kiviat, Science Director of Hudsonia, an ecological research and consulting institute at Bard College, who has worked with health departments concerned with West Nile-like virus in New York state.
The dunks are safe for birdbaths, rain barrels, ponds, ditches, tree holes, roof gutters, unused swimming pools — anywhere water collects. Available in hardware stores, Agway, and some catalogs such as Real Goods, the dunks are Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a bacterial mosquito larvicide. Bti is effective in waters that do not have high organic matter levels, and its
effects are limited to mosquitoes, blackflies, and some other related
species of flies with aquatic larvae.
Bti may be allergenic to some people and should be handled with gloves and the dust not inhaled. Frequent repeated use in wetlands or streams is not recommended.
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