Posts Tagged With: insect and lawn sprayers

Keeping Critters at Bay: Solutions for Mosquitoes (Part 1)

Enjoy Your Yard This Summer Sans MosquitoesNothing will shut a backyard cookout down faster than mosquitoes. No one likes the bites or the itching, so what can you do? Years ago you may remember the bug man driving through your neighborhood trailing a chemical fog of DEET insecticide, a potent nerve toxin that renders an insect paralyzed. Once praised for its ability to eradicate the pesky mosquito, DEET has proven to do more harm than good. Still, with the threat of Malaria and West Nile virus looming in all that buzz, a solution is needed.

The Natural Way to Battle Mosquitoes

Today many choose to go a more natural route in the war against the mosquito. Totally wiping them out is a wonderful dream, although not realistic. There are things you can do to put a dent in the mosquito population in your yard. Here are a few tips:

  • Eliminate standing water – Walk around your yard and turn over anything that holds even the smallest amount of water. The female mosquito lays her eggs in as little as two tablespoons of water. They hatch in a mere seven days.
  • Check for low spots in your yard – Look for areas that may need to be re-graded or have a French drain installed to prevent standing water or marshy ground.
  • Trim the shrubs and bushes around your house – Overgrowth is where mosquitoes love to hide during the heat of the day. Eliminating the brush and weeds will give them nowhere to lurk.
  • Treat water features and fish ponds – Add mosquito dunks made of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that’s harmless to wildlife, pets and people, to any permanent water source. It keeps the mosquito larvae from hatching.
  • Aerate ornamental ponds – Keep the water moving in these features to prevent female mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  • Tie your tarps tightly – Water can gather in the folds of the tarps you are using to cover things like firewood, gas grills and boats. Pull the tarps tightly around these items to keep water out. The same goes for market umbrellas – close tightly when not in use, being careful to brush free of spider webs or trapped insects upon re-opening.
  • Toss any unnecessary items – You may have been saving that tire for a kid’s swing, but leaving it sitting to collect water only allows mosquitoes to breed inside. Toss it!
  • Treat your yard – You can purchase spray insecticides as well as granules that can be applied to the yard. These will not hurt pets or small children and can last up to three weeks.
  • Keep your gutters clean – These are the most overlooked culprits around your house. Clean them out and make sure downspouts are clog free.
  • Inspect your screens and doors – You should have 18″ x 14″ mesh wire in your screens and doors to keep bugs out. Make repairs to any holes or loose fittings you detect.

Mosquitoes Driving You Batty?

If you do have to be outside during peak mosquito times – mid to late afternoon – wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Shoes, socks and even gloves will help keep you bite-free. Burning citronella candles has proven to be effective in keeping the pests away. If you want a totally natural deterrent, then place a bat house in your yard. Bats are said to eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour.

The Smell of Success

Add a few plants like Citronella Grass, a low maintenance plant that grows best in a container, to help your yard ward off mosquitoes naturally. Make sure to buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are the true varieties that ward off mosquitoes.

Plants like Lavender and Lemon Grass give off a scent that the insects hate when their leaves are crushed. Press a few leaves in your hand and rub the scent on your skin to ward off the pesky predators. Try locating some of these plants near your patio and doorway to help set up a “scent barrier” for your home.

  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigolds
  • Mexican Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Grass
  • Lemon scented Geraniums
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Eucalyptus
  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree

Cat Nip is also effective, planted away from flowers beds – since your cat may decide to roll around in it. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From pressure washers for cleaning gutters to insect and lawn sprayers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Yard & Garden To-Dos Part 3: Protecting Plants from Pests

Protect Your Garden From PestsOkay … you’ve got your garden crops, flowers and trees planted. They seem to be thriving – you’ve already been harvesting peas and lettuces, you have sunny-looking flowers that greet you every morning on your way out the door, and the trees are shooting up, well, like new trees are supposed to. You’re determined to keep it this way, too. It’s time to protect your plants from pests.

Getting Comfortable with Pesticides

For some folks, just hearing the word, “pesticide” conjures chemically-induced killing fests of anything that attacks plants, causing them to whither and even die – such as insects, slugs, snails, rodents, weeds and disease. Not to mention, the environment. Can you say, DDT?

However, not all pesticides are toxic man-made chemicals. They can be natural and organically sourced, too. There are three types of pesticides to look for:

Systemic Pesticides – enter the plant through its root system and infiltrate every part of the plant. Systemic pesticides are not recommended for food crops.

Contact Pesticides – must come into contact with the pest to be effective, i.e. smother and kill the pest. Products such as insecticidal soap and horticultural oils must be sprayed directly to the affected area when the pest is present, rather than spraying in advance of an attack.

Residual Pesticides – cling to the surface of plant parts and stay viable for a certain amount of time afterward. Most pesticides are categorized as residual, meaning the offending pest that’s currently ruining your plants will die – and so will the little buggers that show up tomorrow. The length of time a residual pesticide stays active depends on the temperature, rainfall and sunlight.

Whether organic or chemical, if you’re constantly using pesticides to treat your garden –every week or two – something else is going with your garden, beyond pest attack:

  • Are your plants constantly moist?
  • Do they get enough sun?
  • Is the mulch propagating disease, unlike compost, which is oftentimes disease-preventing?
  • Can you blast the pest right off the plant with water or air?
  • Are you using harsh chemical fertilizers to feed the plants?

Bring your plant protection back to basics – consistent cleaning, limited prevention and switching to compost can help.

Organic Pesticides

All the rage now, organic pesticides have actually been used long before chemical pesticides were invented – ever since farmers have been farming, in fact. Here’s a list of inexpensive, all-natural, organic methods for protecting your plants from pests:

  • Neem – used by Native Americans, neem is a bitter tree leaf that comes in oil and juice form. The juice is considered the most powerful natural pesticide on Earth.
  • Salt Spray – great for spider mites infestations, this mixture is most potent with the use of Himalayan Crystal Salt in warm water, sprayed on infected areas.
  • Mineral Oil – dehydrates insects and their eggs.
  • Citrus Oil and Cayenne Pepper Mix – ants really dislike these two bug-busters.
  • Soap, Orange Citrus Oil and Water – effective against slugs, ants and cockroaches.
  • Eucalyptus Oil – zaps wasps, yellow jackets and other pests that fly.
  • Onion and Garlic Spray – stays potent against pests for at least a week, if stored in the ‘fridge. We hear it helps with vampires, too.
  • Chrysanthemum Flower Tea – pyrethrum is the chemical component that makes this such a killer. It infects an insect’s nervous system rendering it immobile. Can be stored for up to two months.
  • Tobacco Spray – commonly used getting rid of caterpillars and aphids. Do not use on tomato, pepper, eggplant or other plants in the solanaceous family … or humans, we’ve been told.
  • Chili pepper and Diatomaceous Earth – to rid the soil of ants and slugs.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From insect and lawn sprayers to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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