21. MOSQUITOES 2018 & 2019

As the warm weather begins, so does the season of the mosquito. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture predicts that 2018 will be an exceptional year for mosquito breeding, since the state’s waters warmed up quickly in spring and mosquitoes were able to lay an unusually high amount of eggs. Since the state found 89 West Nile Virus-positive mosquito pools in 30 Vermont towns in an annual survey in 2017, the Department of Health urges taking extra precautions. 2019 has proven to be a high mosquito year like 2018.

In Vermont, mosquito season begins in late spring, but does not typically pose a health risk until the summer months. By July, some mosquitoes may be carrying viruses that cause diseases like West Nile virus (WNV) or Eastern equine encephalitis. It is important to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites to protect yourself from these diseases. This can be done by protecting yourself from mosquitoes and preventing mosquitoes from breeding around your house. Cover your body – from head to toe – with lightweight cotton clothing.

Insect repellents help people avoid both mosquito and tick bites. Use repellents that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products have been evaluated for their safety and effectiveness. Look for the EPA-registration number on the label.

As summer arrives, so do the mosquitoes. How do you get them to buzz off? Here are a few tips. Try not to have any stagnant pools or containers of water in your garden. I have two barrels, one of fresh water that I use to water plants and another barrel filled with weeds and water that I use to provide nutrients to plants. This barrel smells to high heaven whatever that means, but it gives the plants a real lift. I have a net I use to scoop down and collect the mosquito larvae from the barrels. I keep the barrels covered but sometimes I forget.

It’s best to wear light-colored clothing and to avoid bright floral colors. Khaki, beige, and olive seem not to be attractive to mosquitoes. And please don’t smell like a flower. The “Chuckster” just said, “The Woodchuck Gardener definitely doesn’t smell like a flower.” Certain odors attract bugs like soaps, shampoos, and lotions except for citronella lotions, which do seem to keep the bugs away.

I’ve used an herbal insect repellent called, BUG OUT! It contains the active ingredients of three essential oils - Geraniol, Rosemary and Lemongrass plus some inactive ingredients – Polyglycerol and water. One needs to avoid contact with eyes or lips of Bug Out and keep it out of reach of children. Do not apply to children’s hands. It can cause skin irritation. I spray it on my cap and rub on my neck and ears and neck. I still get a few bites and lots of buzzing and after a while, they go away. I’ve noticed this phenomenon over many years. When I do get bit a lot, I dunk my head in a barrel of cold water in my community garden.

FYI - There is no Deet in BUG OUT Many insect repellants are loaded with toxic chemicals, including the pesticide DEET, which is so poisonous that even the Environmental Protection Agency says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face. Think about it--if this chemical can kill mosquitoes, it can likely do some harm to other life forms as well. It is said that a repellent that contains 30 percent or less of Deet is okay, but I wouldn’t