By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Now's the time to prep yard to fight pesky bugs
Entomologists predict mosquitoes may be worse this summer because of our mild winter. The good news is that if you are diligent about a preventative maintenance plan around the home, you can minimize the impact mosquitoes and other bugs will have on your outdoor activities.
Because female mosquitoes lay eggs on water, and each female can lay up to 300 eggs, getting rid of standing water now may lessen the population and decrease the risk of them spreading disease such as West Nile Virus.
Start by draining water in puddles, ditches, pails, planters, gutters and the saucers under outdoor plants. You should also change the water in your birdbaths and pet bowls frequently. Mosquitoes also like areas with tall grass, weeds and brush, so make sure you cut your grass regularly and trim back bushes.
It is also a good idea to get your neighbors to do the same thing to help keep the mosquito population down in the neighborhood.
"If you get rid of standing water around your home but your neighbors don't, you will still have a mosquito problem this summer," said Dean Krauskopf, Ph.D., of the Horticulture Department at Michigan State University and host of the Gardening Show on WJR-AM (760).
Krauskopf said in addition to eliminating the mosquitoes breeding habitat, products like foliage sprays and foggers can keep them away for up to 12 hours. But one mechanism he doesn't recommend is the bug zapper.
"Bug zappers actually lure mosquitoes into your yard, and they also kill plenty of good insects," he said.
If you have ponds, fountains or marshy areas, you can use a product like Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks by Summit chemical, (800) 227-8664, www.summitchemical.com, to kill the larvae. If you have areas of tall grass, you can use Mosquito Beater by Bonide Products, (800) 536-8231, www.bonide.com, in your yard to keep mosquitoes away for up to four weeks. Both Bonide and Black Flag, www.blackflag.com, also offer propane insect foggers you can use before hosting an outdoor party.
In addition to mosquitoes, Krauskopf said there are plenty of other bugs people try to get rid of in the summer, but too often they don't use the proper products or preventative measures to eliminate the problem.
All-purpose insect sprays may be useful in eliminating some problems, but Krauskopf said tricks like leaving a three- or four-inch break around your home's exterior when you lay mulch can eliminate certain bugs from getting into your home. In other cases, it is better to call a professional rather than try to do it yourself.
"While some ants can be killed with baits or sprays, there are others like pavement ants that live under a slab and will require you to use a professional exterminator," he said.
"Like any other project, you need to know your limits when it comes to bug problems and call in a professional if you can't do it yourself."
We know mosquitoes can carry diseases, including Lyme disease, and so do some ticks. If you live in a wooded area and have a dog that spends a lot of time in the woods, you need to take added precautions to minimize the risk of these creatures attaching themselves to you or your pet, according to Andrea Zelten, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Jeffrey Animal Hospital in Farmington Hills, (248) 471-3636,www.jeffreyanimalhospital.vetsuite.com.
"After Hurricane Katrina, a lot of displaced animals were adopted and brought into our area, and now we are starting to see a different variety of tick-borne diseases that were previously only common in the South," Zelten said.
To decrease the potential of ticks living in your yard, she suggested removing leaf litter, brush and woodpiles around the house and at the edges of yard where ticks like to live, and clearing trees and brush to admit more sunlight and reduce the amount of suitable habitat for deer and rodents, the common carriers of ticks. These preventative measures can also decrease the potential for fleas to breed in your yard and jump on your dog.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Handyman Show can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.