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Take the Bite Out Of Mosquitoes:
Tips to Get Them Out of Your Home and Yard

by Judy Leiser

Mosquitoes have always been pesty visitors when it comes to summer enjoyment, but because of the recent West Nile virus, it has become critical that we do whatever we can to reduce the number of mosquitoes paying visits to our property.

Note: If you have a really bad infestion, we suggest calling a mosquito exterminator for serious pest control. This article is more for those who are finding them a nuisance. For those, we've come up with a list of strategies to minimize the prevalence of the mosquitos this summer. Most of these tips are based on reducing the number of mosquitoes or reducing the desire of the mosquito to bite your tasty family members.

First, get your house and garden mosquito-proof:

* Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
* Reduce or eliminate standing water around your home, even in very small amounts, because that's where mosquito larvae breed. This includes flower pots, gardening cans, wheelbarrows, puddles, old tires, tin cans, tires, buckets, and open trash cans. Change water in a birdbath every week. For water you plan to keep, as in ponds and water features, try mosquito dunks or rings.
* Keep gutters clear of debris.
* Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around your home.
* Eliminate ruts and holes that cause puddles in your yard.
* Consider the new electronic mosquito repellers, which are available in handy keychain size or tabletop versions.
* There are also traps available for mosquitos, which are helpful in keeping the pests away from humans.
* Nets are available for various places in your home, including open doorways, to keep mosquitoes from coming in your home in the summer.

Second, protect the people who live in your home:

* As much as possible, stay indoors between dusk and dawn, which is peak mosquito biting time. Avoid activities in areas where mosquitoes are plentiful.

* Wear light colored clothing in the summer, which attracts less mosquitoes than darker clothing.
* Consider wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors, especially when walking in wooded areas.
* Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 25% to 35% DEET. DEET in high concentrations (greater than 35%) provides no additional protection. Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
* Consider using mosquito netting in areas your family uses often.

Illnesses related to mosquito bites are rare. However, a person should see a doctor immediately if they develop symptoms such as high fever, confusion, neck pain, muscle weakness or severe headaches. Patients with mild symptoms are likely to recover completely and do not require any specific medication or laboratory testing. The most recent cases of the West Nile virus, which primarily attacks animals, have begun to put a bigger priority on mosquito control, since the West Nile virus has now begun to afflict humans.

What's New in our Battle with Mosquitoes?

* Recent studies have shown that catnip oil is actually several times more effective than most mosquito repellant (or repellent, if you prefer), although it is not safe to apply it directly to the skin. It can, however, be applied to clothing and outdoor furniture to control the number of bites your family gets.

* If you have a pond, birdbath or other water feature on your property, try Mosquito Control Rings containing Bt 'Israelensis,' a naturally occurring bacterium that kills mosquito larvae. They can be used in ponds, water barrels, birdbaths and water gardens -- everywhere the insects breed.

These simple techniques can help control the nagging mosquito problem, at least in own your backyard. Mosquitoes can transmit harmful substances, including the recent West Nile Virus, and a few preventative measures are important to your family's safety.

Judy Leiser is a staff writer for Paradox Home and Garden . Read more articles on home and garden topics in the Home Style News email newsletter. Subscribe free.

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Sunroom Additions: Bringing the Outdoors In
Sunrooms have become very popular additions to today's home. The design brings the homeowner closer to the outdoors, but with all the coziness and comfort of an indoor room.



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