Had enough of severe storms, hail, and tornadoes? If you think Mother Nature’s done with us, think again. This series of wet weather has given rise to the scourge of outdoor activity: mosquitoes.
I know, I know – those who live in places where mosquitoes are the size of Boeing 747s and routinely carry off small pets are thinking “wimps, grow a spine!” But we’re not sissies in this semi-arid place, after all we deal with rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and bears.
Yet mosquitoes are a problem – the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has announced that a trap captured a West Nile virus-positive Culex mosquito on June 5 in Fort Collins, Colorado. For readers living outside of our state, this is significant because it’s three to five weeks earlier than most years. This virus is serious for humans, but not all mosquitoes carry it – only Culex species does.
A gardener’s yard is filled with opportunities for mosquitoes to lay their eggs, since we have pots, buckets, saucers, bird baths, ponds, wheelbarrows, and other accessories stacked around the yard. If you look at the list many of the health agencies have on common breeding areas, gardeners’ yards appear to be mother ships for these insects.
But there is something you can do to reduce the problem of mosquitoes: change bird bath water twice per week; dump out water that collects in the dish beneath pots; turn over unused pots, saucers, trays and buckets; and use Bt doughnuts to float in your ponds or water features. Bt, short for Bacillus thuringiensis, is a natural way to kill off the mosquito larvae in your water.
To protect yourself while working in the garden, cover up or use a mosquito repellent that’s effective against West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. Check with your local health department for suggested repellents.