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.
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
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.