Warmer-than-usual temperatures last winter have come back to bite us, which you may have noticed if you’ve tried to enjoy your back-yard this summer.
Mosquitoes, ticks and other pests have emerged in higher-than-average numbers this year and are driving many of us indoors. But you don’t have to give up your yard to creepy invaders. Pest control experts say you can employ a few simple tricks to cut the risk of getting bitten.
If your goal is to clear mosquitoes from your yard for a couple hours while you dine al fresco, backyard foggers and citronella candles work well, said Rodney Whittaker, service manager with Hickman’s Termite and Pest Control, in Richmond, Virginia. The pest control business is one of several that belong to Home Service Connections.
“I’ve used foggers in the past for a quick fix,” Whittaker said. “It does make your yard a little bit more enjoyable.”
You can’t just spray a little barrier encircling your yard, though. That’s not enough. Whittaker said you have to spray into foliage and under any decks to get mosquitoes where they like to hang out. The bloodsuckers love to land in shaded, moist leaf waste, so clear out any debris.
For a longer-term solution, call a professional, who will treat your property with growth inhibitors that keep mosquitoes from growing and reproducing. It also pays to try to prevent mosquitoes from infesting your property by eliminating any standing water, which is where they lay eggs. They don’t need much – less than a half inch of depth.
Of course, they might fly in from surrounding areas, so you can fight them more effectively by getting your neighbors to take measures, too.
Ticks are also a concern this year thanks again to the mild winter, says the National Pest Management Association, based in Fairfax, Virginia. These arachnids and the diseases they spread should be top-of-mind for people spending time in woods or areas with tall grass.
The association offers these tips for staying tick-free:
- Keep grass cut low and remove weeds and woodpiles from your yard. Keep shrubs trimmed back, especially near patio and play areas.
- Cover up if you’re going to be in areas with woods or tall grass. Wear closed-toed shoes, pants and long sleeves.
- Wear insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET. The association has a video on how to properly apply repellent. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be effective.
- Inspect pets for ticks on a routine basis. They can contract Lyme disease, too.
- If you find a tick in mid-bite, grasp it as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and remove it with a slow, steady pull, so the tick won’t leave behind mouth parts. Then clean the bite area. If you see embedded parts after removing the tick, use tweezers to pull them out if you can.
Following these tips should help you avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes and ticks in the yard and buy you at least a few hours of outdoor, pest-free enjoyment. Humans may win the battle, but we’ll never win the war.
“That’s why it’s called pest control,” Whittaker said, “not pest elimination.”