Last week I focused on something that was beneficial in the yard–bees. And let’s face it, even if you are allergic to them, you must admit that without bees, the world would be a difficult place in which to live. I’ve told this story here before: several times when I was working in retail gardening I would have customers tell me that they had planted either squash or cucumbers but weren’t getting any fruit (because technically that’s what those cucubits are–fruit–but that’s a whole different topic!).
So I’d ask them whether they saw any bees in the yard and they’d think a half second and say, “No, not really.” And I’d ask if they used pesticides and they’d also say, “No, not really–well, on the grass, and around the foundation and of course we spray for mosquitos.”
So I’d explain that bees are very sensitive to pesticides and they would therefore have to “play the bee” themselves with a paintbrush and go around pollinating the squash or cucumber blossoms if they wanted to get any veggies that year.
But mosquitos? Nobody wants to have those in the yard. And this year, because of all the snow over the past winter, and the soupy, swampy spring, we have a bumper crop of mosquitoes! I knew I was in trouble in my home state, Connecticut, when our local Agricultural Experiment Station, which monitors mosquitoes and tests for West Nile virus, found more mosquitoes in their traps in June than they had in all of last summer!
Then last week I read this article in the Wall Street Journal that said that not only did I have my “local” mosquitoes to worry about, but there were two Asian imports that were around as well. And they too were capable of spreading diseases like West Nile and even dengue fever! How fabulous!
The two “imports” are the Asian Tiger mosquito and the rock pool mosquito and the Journal article has a map of the ranges of their infiltration into the states as well as their habits and the diseases they spread.
It also has some helpful (or not depending on your preference) suggestions for avoiding mosquitoes such as to wear DEET or citronela-based repellents, avoid dawn and dusk based activities, avoid dark-colored clothing since the rock pool mosquito is known to favor that, and for the Asian tiger mosquito don’t even bother following the above advice (except with respect to repellents) because it is a daytime mosquito that is particularly aggressive.
One warning that is still good and is particularly apt for the Asian tiger mosquito–eliminate all standing water! It can breed in very small pools of water, even pools of water left by children’s toys. So be sure to be vigilant about bird baths and plant saucers–something we gardeners have around!