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Photo by Darren Phillips / NMSU

NMSU Extension Expert Provides Tips for Mosquito-proofing Your Yard

Unfortunately, the dry desert doesn’t protect from mosquitoes. These bloodsuckers emerge each year and, according to Jeff Anderson, the Agronomy and Horticulture Agent for New Mexico State University’s Dona Ana County Cooperative Extension Service, the state’s mosquitoes are especially active in July and August, once the monsoon season rains kick in.

Anderson warns the mosquitoes that carry the dangerous Zika virus, known as Aedes aegypti mosquitos, are found in Dona Ana County. And, unlike other mosquitoes, these are especially aggressive during the day, and only land on humans for a short time, making them harder to spot and swat.

Anderson offers the following tips for mosquito-proofing your yard:

1) Find dry land. Get rid of any standing water around your home. Old tires, plastic buckets and toys left outside can collect rainwater where mosquitoes lay eggs. Taking care of your property won’t just help you; it will help the whole neighborhood.

2) Be water smart. Too much water on your lawn can make it a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Don’t overwater. It’s also a good idea to water in the morning, instead of in the evening, so the soil has an opportunity to dry during the day.

3) Spray the bugs away. Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET when you’re outdoors. For those allergic to DEET, stores often have natural repellents as well.

4) Use power plants. Some forms of eucalyptus, as well as lavender, can repel mosquitoes simply by being planted in an area. Other plants, such as basil and catnip, produce oils in their leaves, which can be crushed and used in sprays to repel mosquitoes.

5) Get an oil change. Essential oils, including citrus, lemon eucalyptus, cedar, garlic and citronella, are useful in keeping mosquitoes at bay and can be purchased locally or online.

6) Go all-natural. A number of granular mosquito prevention products for lawns and floating products for use in water features contain natural bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, which is toxic to mosquitoes, but won’t hurt pets, humans or other animals.

7) Dress for success. Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, and dark-colored clothing tends to retain heat. During mosquito season, make sure to wear clothes that are light-colored, loose-fitting and long-sleeved.

8) Set some traps. Studies have found that commercial carbon dioxide mosquito traps can kill thousands of mosquitoes a night. Bug zappers, on the other hand, aren’t as effective. Zappers kill bugs indiscriminately, and only about one percent of the zapped bugs turn out to be mosquitoes. Stick with the CO2 traps.

9) Bring in the big guns. A number of chemical products specifically designed for mosquito control are available at local stores. Make sure to check for these products early, and stock up. They’ll sometimes run out before the end of mosquito season.

Author:  Justin Bannister – NMSU

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