By Shannon Keirnan - Mosquito Hater
'Tis that time of the season here in Michigan - the sun is hot, the windows are open, and I'm probably on the deck enjoying a nice glass of wine with the weather.
Meanwhile, the fruit flies are seizing the opportunity to sneak in through the window screen, the flies won't quit biting my leg and landing in my glass... and we won't even discuss the indignities I'm suffering from the mosquitos that come in off of my marshy backyard in bloodthirsty swarms.
Need some ideas on getting rid of these pesky critters, without putting other critters (or yourself) in danger from harmful chemicals? Check out the list below.
Make a natural fly repellant out of essential oils. You can check out some ideas here (just remember NOT to apply essential oil directly to your skin unless it has been properly diluted). You can also add a few drops of oils to a spray bottle and spray the area before going outside. Try basil, lavender, bay, rosemary, or mint oils - or just keep your herb garden near where you like to sit!
Hang strips of fabric soaked in garlic water in the area, or apply garlic water to your skin. It will keep the flies away but probably no one else will want to be near you either, so use that idea at your discretion.
Trap the ones that just wouldn't take the hint in a jar with some apple cider vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
If you love produce and your kitchen is now teeming with these buggers like mine, try an easy and natural trap. Simply put apple cider vinegar into a glass, and cover it with plastic wrap. Rubber band the plastic wrap on, and poke a few small holes in the top to trap them inside. They're good at breeding, but not real smart. Like a lot of people I know.
Try a (cute) DIY repellent jar made with vanilla, sage, and mint. Find the directions here at The Dabblist!
If you know where the ants are coming in, try leaving some cucumber peelings on their front stoop. They don't like the smell and won't appreciate the gift.
Same goes for coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and pureed citrus peel (orange or lemon).
Sprinkle cornmeal where the ants will pick it up and eat it. In theory, it is supposed to expand in the ants and kill them. This doesn't seem to be scientifically accurate, but a lot of people swear by it regardless.
Mosquitos (The WORST of the WORST)
First of all, make sure you don't allow them breeding territory. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water, so clean bird baths often, make sure children's toys aren't collecting puddles after a rain, etc. All those buggers need is one tablespoon of water to sit still for seven-to-ten days, and you'll be practically breathing them in when you walk outside.
If you have a small pond or something else that you can't exactly drain regularly, think about investing in a few guppies or feeder goldfish. The small fish cost very little, and are awesomely effective at chomping up mosquito larvae and eggs. Just do your research before making that final decision - don't introduce a species where it might potentially spread. If mosquitos are breeding in your backyard river or lake, this is not a great idea and won't help you anyway.
A few drops of dish soap can also suffocate larvae in small bodies of water, but can be hazardous to other species that may drink the water, so again, use common sense and consider the larger implications.
Plant or pot lemon balm, a nicely scented plant that naturally repels mosquitos, presumably because they prefer all things evil and the pleasant citrus smell defeats them. Crush up a few leaves and dab the oils on your skin for extra oomph. Plus you'll smell real pretty.
Keep catnip near by, as another enjoyable plant that keeps mosquitos pretty far away. Be forewarned - it keeps cats pretty near.
Have you tried any of these methods, or others? What are your favorites? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below!