Considering the Zika news that seems to get a little more alarming every week, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant in your battle to keep your yard as mosquito free as possible. Eliminating standing water wherever possible is a good place to start. We’ve always tried to keep up with this task here at the nursery, but it is now an even higher priority. If you have not done so recently, we recommend that you take some time this weekend to ‘walk’ your entire property looking for trouble spots. Some you may be able to eliminate altogether. For others, there are some natural products that are very effective.
Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits are a safe way to kill mosquito larvae in those areas of standing water that you cannot eliminate. The active ingredient is Bacillus thuringiensis which is a bacterium that is deadly for mosquito larvae, but will not harm you, your children, your pets or the planet. Use the dunks or the bits in birdbaths, rain barrels, unused swimming pools, tree hollows, gutters, flower pots or anywhere else you have standing water from time to time. The dunks can be used whole or broken into smaller pieces. I scatter the bits in woodsy areas where there is a lot of leaf litter that can hold water for quite a while between rains.
Unfortunately you cannot often control standing water on properties surrounding your home. Mosquito Barrier is a great solution for this problem. It is a natural product that will keep mosquitoes out of your yard. At first glance, it seems a bit pricy; but it’s a concentrate, and a one quart bottle covers 1.25 acres. We also carry it in gallons. Still, if you’re on a budget like I am, you can stretch the product by using it only where you spend most of your time. I have used Mosquito Barrier around and on my back deck and from my front door to where I park my car (pretty much right in front of my front door – I live in a townhouse). That way I’m covered most of the time and a one quart bottle lasts me three or four months. One application lasts for two to three weeks and will even continue to work after it rains (if the product has time to dry thoroughly after application).
So now your yard is safe, but what do you do to protect yourself and your family when you go out into the world? You use repellents of course. Here at Native Nurseries we have sold natural repellents for years—no DEET for us—no siree Bob! Zika however, has us rethinking some choices. According to EWG (The Environmental Working Group – http://www.ewg.org/), ‘The risk of Zika infection is far more serious than side effects from repellent chemicals, provided you use products as directed.’ That does not mean we have to bite the bullet and go as far as using DEET. There are other choices. The active ingredient in Natrapel is Picaridin. EWG says, ‘Picaridin is not known to irritate skin and eyes, does not have a pungent odor like DEET and does not dissolve plastics. It evaporates from the skin more slowly than DEET or IR3535 and may repel bugs for longer periods. In efficacy testing it performs like DEET, appearing to repel a wide range of pests. The World Health Organization recommends Picaridin, along with DEET and IR3535, for protection against mosquitoes that carry diseases. Picaridin does not carry the same neurotoxicity concerns as DEET but has not been tested as much over the long term. Overall, EWG’s assessment is that Picaridin is a good DEET alternative with many of the same advantages and without the same disadvantages.’
Considering this and other information we’ve read and heard in recent weeks, we feel we owe it to our customers to discontinue selling natural essential oil type repellents. For those who intend to continue to use them, come see us—we just put the rest of our stock on sale. Be sure, however, to apply them generously and often. Today we are placing an order for Natrapel. Hopefully we’ll have some within a week. Lilly has been using this product, and she’s very impressed with its effectiveness. She also says it seems to keep the mosquitoes at more of a distance, that when she uses Natrapel, the mosquitoes do not buzz around her face.
Yes—Zika is sounding pretty scary; but the good news is that whether you and your family like to get your nature fix in your backyard or in the national forest, we have safe options that will help keep you protected. Come see us.