Archive for July 22nd, 2009

Science at home: Mosquito patrol

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Although we seem to finally have broken into the hot days of the season here in Fort Collins, it’s been a wet summer. While there are plenty of upsides to our seemingly daily rains, the downpour has also brought with it a population boom of those pesky sanguinivores: mosquitoes.

So, why all the mosquitoes? All the rain we’ve had has created more breeding grounds for mosquitoes – any area of standing water can quickly become a mosquito nursery. As the summer continues and we (presumably) dry out more, the mosquito population will decrease. Until then, however, understanding how to stay bite-free (or at least bite-less frequently) means understanding the mosquito’s ecoystem and what makes them happy — and then using that information to your advantage:

Get rid of that standing water!

Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water and they only need half an inch of it. You’d be surprised at the number of places water can collect: cans, tires, flowerpots, toys, and yard equipment are all fair game for breeding grounds. Find the standing water in your habitat and use it to water your flowers instead of growing more mosquitoes.

Trim your bushes

Mosquitoes like moist, shady places to hide during the day and the bottoms of bushes are some of their favorites. Raise the bushes a foot off the ground and you evict the mosquitoes.

Wean yourself off the sprinkler

The wetter your lawn, the more mosquitoes you’ll get. Here in Fort Collins (which is a semi-arid desert climate, so we shouldn’t be trying to have all those green lawns anyway), up to a week between watering will keep the little buzzers at bay.

Grow anti-mosquito plants

Cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, cedar, peppermint, clove, geranium, and marigold are all volatile oil-filled plants that mosquitoes will happily avoid. The more smelly (in a good way) plants you have, the less bite-y mosquitoes.

Stop exercising outdoors at night

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, lactic acid, sweat, and used socks, all of which are present when you exercise (at least they should be – you non-sock wearing people know who you are). While it might be nicer to jog in the evening when it’s cool, know that if you do, you’ll have a winged entourage.

Stop coating your body in stinky cheese

Studies have shown that one of the few scents that actually attract mosquitoes is Limburger cheese. Hmmm, this may put a damper on my deli-inspired perfume line …

And, finally …

Does it seem like nothing in human power can stop the mosquito? This will really make you wonder:

Mosquito Survives In Outer Space


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