Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other pesky pests are an annoying and ubiquitous part of the summer. Besides being irritating, insects like mosquitoes and ticks are carriers of serious diseases like Lyme Disease and the West Nile Virus.
Common insect combatants include chemical sprays (smelly, annoying to apply), zappers (often ineffective), and citronella candles (smelly). Chemical solutions are dangerous for your body and the environment, and many chemicals end up killing the natural predators of the pests you are trying to control.
There is another way. Controlling insects through biological pest control is an effective and fascinating natural way of improving the comfort of your summer days outdoors. Insects (especially mosquitoes) have a lot of enemies other than humans.
Drawing these natural predators to your yard will lower your pest numbers and keep unsafe chemicals like DEET out of the air and off your skin.
Here are a few ideas for keeping your insects away:
Bird vs. bug: Besides being beautiful to look at and listen to, birds will keep insects at bay, so why not put up a birdhouse, birdbath, or birdfeeder?
Many birds (such as chickadees, house wrens, gray catbirds, bluebirds, warblers, orioles, some sparrows, and more) control bugs like mosquitoes and wasps by turning them into snacks. Birds won’t eat enough solve your problem completely, but having a bird-friendly yard will surely create a dent in your airborne pest numbers.
Bat them off: A lot of people are spooked by bats. So are mosquitoes, and for good reason. Bats are nature’s mosquito chowing machines. Some bats can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes per hour.
Installing a bat house will attract bats to your property and keep the mosquito population down. Put it somewhere nearby—it doesn’t have to be right next to your house. Bats come out after sunset and naturally try to avoid humans while hunting bugs.
Not all bats live in caves, and they love having a cool, dark place to “hang” out. Learn all about bat houses and how you can get one from Bat Conservation International.
Praying for prey: Praying mantises are hungry, carnivorous creatures that will rapidly and ravenously eat ticks, mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and other insect pests.
You can purchase praying mantis pods that birth up to 300 for about $3-$9.00 per pod from online sources or garden shops. Just 3 pods planted in your yard will protect up to 5,000 sq feet. This bug-on-bug defense might just be the answer to your prayers.
Water solutions: If you are lucky enough to have a pond or marsh on your property, consider planting cattails or bulrushes to attract dragonflies, which also eat mosquitoes (and are usually killed by the same chemicals used to attack mosquitoes).
Certain fish, including one called the Mosquitofish (no brainer), love to munch on mosquitoes. Introduce these and Guppies to your pond and let them feast on up to 168 mosquito larvae every eight hours.
There’s something beautiful about all this. Biological pest control is a holistic way of fighting insects through an understanding of the innate interactions of the many organisms that inhabit our yards and gardens.
Insect control is complex and no one method is sure to be effective, but these all-natural and educational techniques are certainly worth a shot. By taking full advantage of the natural processes in our local ecosystems, we can create much more comfortable summer surroundings that will let spend as many hours outside as possible.
Now if only we could do something about the rain…
By Justin O’Neill, ecomii.com
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