Banishing The Bloodsuckers Of Summer

Mosquitoes are more than a summer nuisance, they can be hazardous to your health, but is there a more eco-conscious way to keep them at bay?
The bloodsuckers of summer are multiplying in our backyards, so what are the best ways to control the mosquito menace without poisoning ourselves? Green Air's Rich Awn has a few ideas.

Metamorphosing in hidden pools of stagnant water in open trash cans, flower pots, puddles, ponds, gutters, culverts, bird baths and creeks, the summer swarms of mosquito larvae will soon sprout wings and mercilessly wreak havoc. Desperate as we are to avoid what may be summer's only bummer, we're quick to reach for pungent chemical repellents thinking they must work by virtue of their effect on pretty much anything within smelling distance.

The most popular are DEET-based products. DEET, while certainly a proven method of mosquito control, is known to be caustic when in contact with certain plastics and synthetics. It's not recommended for children as it can be a skin irritant and should be used with extreme caution.

Before you wage chemical warfare, save your family's health and aggravation with these devastating battle plans to obliterate your local mosquito militia using nature as ammo.

lemongrass1.) For ground support, grow some Thai lemon grass. It contains a natural chemical similar to citronella and a small plot can stay lush all summer. Just cut off the tips, macerate the stalks, and create tinctures for spraying. It's pleasant on the skin and 98% effective with even the most aggressive mosquitoes.

bat2.) For air strikes, try building a bat house. Bats consume up to 1,200 insects per hour and they feed every night. Bat houses can be easily constructed and bought pre-made. Hang them high in a thick tree and sit back and let our winged mammal cousins dive bomb the mosquito swarm under cover of night.

mantis3.) Praying for relief? Let the praying mantis answer your call. Their powerful pincers and devout stealth attacks don't discriminate... even when snacking on their own kind! Mantis egg cases are sold commonly in garden centers and while they may function better as ominous sentries than bloodthirsty bug contras, they're interesting creatures to care for and study.

ladybug4.) Lure in the larvae in with the charm of nature's femme fatale - the ladybug. These cute speckled beetles are also voracious pest predators feeding mainly on the soft squishy larvae of the enemy before it even has the chance to reach their pesky potential. Sold in pre-packaged broods, don't let them fly away too quickly! Release your lady killers in the evening and spray their wings with a little sugar water to keep them around long enough to do their job.

All's fair in love and war except when you're getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Making a little love with your with natural methods of pest control is the best way to serve and protect yourself and the habitat around you. For more tales from the front line, check out some of the following links:

Ladybugs are your #1 natural pest control (Garden Stew)

Mosquito control (iVillage Garden Web)

The praying mantis, Tenodera Aridifolia Sinesis
(Green Methods)

Handmade organic mosquito repellent (Journey to Forever)

'Star Wars' scientists create laser gun to kill mosquitoes (CNN)

Photos by Squirrel_bark, choyaw99, furryscaly, clkutz, Macaw-frey.