climate

ZIKA Virus – Options and Actions for the Zika Zone!

I live in Lake Worth Florida.  I’m very close to a Zika zone and probably by the time you read this, in a Zika zone.  Bummer, but I believe there are ways to keep my loved ones and myself safe from this looming threat.  My yard was consistently heavy with mosquitoes because I grow a lot of plants, have a lot of mulch and support the natural processes that make growing your own food so awesome!

I had broken down in the past when the little critters got unbearable and used a Pyrethrum (crysanthimum derived) spray to take them out.  It was a mistake because it killed off all the pollinators and other positive bugs.  Within a week of spraying a new variety of bugs showed up, no mosquitoes, but a dozen other beasts that leveled my gardens in short order (like under 5 days).  The reason?  I sprayed a pesticide that threw off the balance of nature and invited other bugs to take their place.  It was very sad to see collards get leveled in just hours and the butterflies just stopped visiting for a while.  They knew what I did and I regretted it.

So I committed myself to figuring out how to handle the mosquitoes without the poison even if it was a natural variety.  How to push back against the bugs that are so much in the news right now.

First, let me say I have a lot of water on my property, a few ponds (that are continually aerated), bird baths, a few buckets and large holding tanks for rain water catchment.  So I have plenty of places where the beasts can hide, reproduce and infect me!  But I did one simple thing that changed the game.  One product I used to lower the potential of mosquitoes greatly and their numbers have dropped so significantly that I don’t see them as a threat as I once did.

What did I do?  I went small, really small.  I used microorganisms.  Bacillus thuringiensis to be exact.  They cause the larvae of mosquitoes to not mature to flight stage.  It changed the game for me and it was cheap,  easy to spread and don’t have any measurable negative affects on my fish, frogs, caterpillars, butterflies, bees, or pets.

How did I do it?  Simply, I purchased Mosquito Bits, which did the trick.  bits

I spread it across my entire yard space of 1/4 acre.  One bottle did all my ponds, water holders, buckets, anything that could hold water for a short time during  or after our frequent rains.  I even spread it on my mulch to ensure runoff of the bacteria back into my water catchment during heavy rains.  Within a week the game had changed and I didn’t lose my garden in the process.  Zika might still be lingering, but the volume of bugs carrying this disease was greatly decreased.  I’m outside all the time, so I know my risk, I try not to use bug sprays as I believe they are as bad as any disease in the long term.  But I found my own way back to my yard without the endless smacking and scratching that comes with the Florida outdoors.

To replace the bug spray and to ensure I’m not infected I use mud.  That’s right, MUD.  I find all kinds of clays in my travels and don’t purchase them most often.  Long ago I realized in FL that mud was used as an insect repellent long before the term was coined.  So I use it as the Indians did, get it wet enough to spread and cover up.  It feels great (to me) and keeps the bugs and sun off my skin.   I even keeps me skin exfoliated and adds some minerals to my skin.  We never get enough minerals and this traditional approach is by far the most FUN I’ve had in mosquito bite prevention.

But if you are concerned, you should use everything you can to stay safe.  Cover up with clothes, use mosquito spray and mosquito nets and cheap drop nets, consider buying blower fan and use it when in outside spaces, I have a large fan that I turn on regularly that really does the trick…

 

There are several products that carry this bacteria and you can find some of the best prices here

 

Want more information on Zika?  You can buy books and special sprays here.  Visit the CDC here for updates or click here for a google search for Zika News

 

 

UPDATE 9-28-2016:  Some of the mosquitoes survived and are still around, so I don’t have a perfect fix, but I definitely improved the situation.

In Florida a white roof can save 20% on your electric bill, my personal experience

Step 1:  You find white paint (preferably old, unwanted)

Step 2:  Paint your roof.  That’s it, save 20% on your bill if you started with a darker colored roof.

You will feel the difference on your feel almost immediately after drying and the attic temperature may drop as much as 20 degrees that very day!  When you consider that my AC comes on much less often, the savings only compound over time.

My story:    I painted the roof on my shed to test this idea and the temperature change was immediate (before the paint even dried). I had a 15 degree drop in the space the same day (image 95 degrees drops to 80 degrees with just a roof color change, that is what I experienced). It took two hours and about ten gallons of outdated used white primer paint. Worth it every time I walk in the shed! The house is next! 🙂

Call to ACTION! Document KING TIDE Flooding!  

 The Climate Action Coalition wants to gather evidence of flooding in communities in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and all along Florida’s Atlantic coast! We want to know if your neighborhood or street floods during King Tide (between now and last week in October) or do you know of people who may be living in affected areas?  You or your family and friends can participate in our King Tide documentation by snapping 2 photos, one before (area dry) and one during King Tide.  
As a leader in one of the CAC member groups here in PBC or an affiliated group, you also have access to chapters of your organization in coastal communities from Jacksonville to Key West. We are especially interested in capturing king tide events in the Southeast Florida Region.  We want before and after flooding photos in as many impacted communities as possible. See attached for a list, by county, of the communities along Florida’s Atlantic seaboard. Which of these has a chapter of your group? Will you send them this CALL?
Please share this information with family, friends and others who may be dealing with flooding here locally in PBC.  We want to document as many impacted areas in PBC as possible.  So far we have photos from Jupiter, Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Lake Worth Canal, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Highland Beach.  We are still seeking photos for Singer Island, South Palm Beach, Lantana, Lake Worth by the intracoastal, Briny Breezes and Boca Raton.

And PLEASE REACH OUT statewide, and especially to your organization’s chapters in Southeast Florida.  (You do not have to be a CAC member to participate.)

 rolandofloodwpb10-3-15As an example, here are two photos by Rolando Chang Barrero, West Palm Beach, Flagler Drive at 10th Street, West Palm Beach, facing East to the Intracoastal.

All participants are welcome.  Thanks to CAC member Artists for Climate Action (AfCA) for organizing this action.  With their assistance and yours, we will be able to chronicle who is being flooded in a PERMANENT ROLLING MURAL of before and after flooding photos on the AfCA website, accessible to all to help spread the word that climate change caused flooding is already affecting us along our coasts.  
To participate, here are the simple steps to follow:
1)  Find out when King Tide will be occurring where you live by going on this site: http://www.tidetable.net/florida-east-coast.  
2)  Contact Mary Jo Aagerstoun, mjaagerstoun@gmail.com, to let her know that you will participate: Please include your name and contact information in your email.
3)  Take two photographs of the site you have identified that has experienced flooding during King Tide events. One when it is dry, and one during King Tide when it floods. The images should be taken in the same place, facing the same direction. Daytime photos are preferred.
4)  Send the two images to Ken Horkavy, [email protected], in a single email.  Ken will create a “rolling mural” and post it on the AfCA website (http://artistsforclimateaction.org). Be sure to identify where the photos were taken (address or street, with closest cross street, city, county), date and time each photo was taken.
5) Any questions, contact Mary Jo.  We look forward to seeing your photos!