Mosquitoes are already out in force this season. How can we protect ourselves and our families and still enjoy the outdoors?
“Humans are mosquito magnets,” says University of Illinois Extension educator Chris Enroth. “Not only are forgotten plastic kiddie pools in the backyard good for mosquito breeding, we also attract mosquitoes simply by being living, breathing mammals.”
What makes one person more attractive to mosquitoes than others? Enroth says mosquitoes can’t resist the following:
The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends DEET as the most effective chemical to use to combat mosquitoes. Look for sprays with DEET at 40% or higher for an effective, long-lasting repellants Be sure to re-apply every 4-6 hours. DEET confuses the mosquito and blocks the females’ ability to detect carbon dioxide, heat, moisture, and human sweat.
Avoidance is only part of the strategy. Controlling mosquito populations though habitat reduction and backyard treatments is another strategy to minimize bites.
“Only female mosquitoes bite,” Enroth says. This is because they need a blood meal (protein) for reproduction. Once she has fed, the female will search out a favorable site to lay her eggs. Anything that holds stagnant water is her target. Preventing her offspring from developing into adult mosquitoes is the most effective control. Enroth suggests the following strategies to eliminate breeding sites:
Controlling adult mosquitoes
“Avoid using bug zappers to control flying adults,” Enroth says. “About 90% of insects killed with bug zappers are not mosquitoes. In fact several are beneficial insects like the brown lacewing.”
Mosquito foggers work for only a short period of time and are well-suited to being used prior to an outdoor event.
Community-wide control programs work best. “Everyone has a role to play in minimizing mosquito population,” Enroth says.
To prevent getting bitten by female mosquitoes and to minimize the spread of West Nile Virus, Illinoisans should follow the recommendations above for reducing habitat and personal protection.
University of Illinois Extension
The Boone County Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk. Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more. They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.
At this time of social distancing, the Master Gardeners are volunteering remotely and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Homeowners are encouraged to email photos of their troubled plants, trees, shrubs, insects, etc. to help the Master Gardeners with their research.
Visit our Extension website for Boone, DeKalb and Ogle County for information on upcoming events at extension.illinois.edu/bdo. If you have specific questions about the Master Gardener program, please contact Judy Hodge, Extension Program Coordinator at email@example.com.
Shop Local, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online.
Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code.
This directory helps consumers support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state. Shop Local has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.
Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Shop Local may register by visiting the Shop Local page of the Illinois Specialty Growers website. Contact the Illinois Speciatly Growers with additional questions at https://www.specialtygrowers.org/contact.
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