Put an end to your summertime mosquito woes
81-year-old Luling resident Sal Noto relies on purple martins to control his mosquito population. The birds travel up from Brazil each year and nest in southeast Louisiana.
While it is time once again to take cover from the pesky blood suckers, many people approach mosquito defense in different manners, but the importance of protecting yourself cannot be stressed enough. In addition to being pests, mosquitoes also carry diseases that can be harmful to people and their pets. So some sort of action can not only bring you relief, but may, in the worst case scenario, keep you or a loved one from becoming ill.
The biggest piece of advice Eddie Hartman, co-owner and operator of Hartman’s True Value Hardware in Luling, has for those with mosquito problems is keeping your yard well maintained.
“The best thing you can do is keep your grass cut. The lower the grass, the fewer mosquitoes you will have,” he said.
In addition to offering a variety of tools to assist with routine yard maintenance, Hartman’s store offers numerous products that combat mosquito attacks.
One of the newer products is a granule substance homeowners can sprinkle in their backyards, which prevents mosquito larvae growth by killing off the bugs before they are hatched.
“It is actually mosquito repellent that is spread in the yard and as the yard gets damp at night it seeps into the ground and water,” Hartman said. “It will kill whatever larva is in the soil and grass, and it keeps them from coming back.”
Hartman’s True Value Hardware has kept granules in stock for the past two years and Hartman said he endorses the product in part because he uses it himself.
“We’ve had it for the past two years. I have two dogs so I have to keep the mosquitoes away,” he said.
Hartman also suggests foggers, of which they have both propane and electric, as well as citronella candles, torches, coils and even wristbands, which he says provide personal protection.
“Wristbands work pretty well if you are fishing or hiking or anything like that. They work really good against gnats as well, especially fishing. They are easy to use, take them off, put them on, put them in the dry box on your boat and reuse them again,” he said.
On Davis Drive in Luling, 81-year-old Sal Noto goes about mosquito control in a far different manner.
Noto, a retired New Orleans firefighter and deckhand, moved to St. Charles Parish 25 years ago and had his home built from the ground up. It was not until 12 years ago that he added a number of specialized gourd bird houses elevated on poles in his front yard for a migratory population of purple martins that visit his property each year.
“They live entirely on mosquitoes. They are from the lower part of Brazil. They come over in January and they stay until around July 15 and then they go back to where they came from,” he said.
Noto said he was first introduced to the mosquito hunters when he came upon a man who had homes for them in his front yard.
“I was passing this house and this old gentleman was standing out front looking at a number of bird houses and I decided to stop and see what these beautiful birds were. He was quite old and that was his hobby and he said it had been for about 50 years,” he said.
Within a few years, both Noto and his next door neighbor had built their own purple martin homes and even got the St. Charles Parish Council to name the cross street running next to their homes Purple Martin Drive.
Noto went so far as to put a security camera on his birds at one point.
“I went overboard with it. I even went to the trouble of putting a camera I had on a little TV in my garage and I could see what they were doing in the nest,” he said.
Anyone can replicate what he is doing, according to Noto.
“If the place is right you can almost put up a wooden box and they’ll nest in it. However, I went farther than that with it. I put up plastic gourds, about 60 of them. Right now it is a bad year and I have about 10 pairs that will grow to 30 or 40 birds by the end of the year as long as the hawks don’t get them,” he said.
While buying products to ward off mosquitoes is the norm and even attracting birds to roost in your home that will eat the mosquitoes sounds like a good idea, Luling resident Kevin Hebert has gone as far as one can go in the fight against mosquitoes.
This year Hebert has gone to the extreme by investing $3,000 in the latest technology in the fight against mosquitoes–a full yard misting system.
“It literally covers the entire perimeter of our backyard. We have about 30 different mist nozzles on the house the fence, garage everywhere,” he said. “It comes on at 6 a.m. for 30 seconds and then from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. every 15 minutes for 30 seconds. It kills mosquitoes as well as flies. It is supposed to create a barrier that they don’t want to cross.”
Hebert said his family spends as much time as they can outdoors and that was behind the decision to invest in a system that would stop mosquitoes in their tracks.
“Now we can go out in the backyard at night and use the barbeque grill and the pool without getting carried off by mosquitoes,” he said.
Hebert said he came to the decision after trying numerous other methods.
“I imagine we’ve done everything,” he said. “This system wasn’t cheap, that’s for sure, but it actually works.”
As you can see there are number of different ways to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes, but no matter what you do be sure to follow the list of eight simple tips provided below by the LSUAgCenter for those hoping to prevent a mosquito infestation.
8 simple tips to reduce the mosquito population around your home
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Even a small bucket that has stagnant water in it for seven days can become home to up to 1,000 mosquitoes.
Here are some easy tips to eliminate standing water:
1. Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water holding containers that have accumulated on your property. Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation.
2. Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property.
3. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left out of doors. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed in.
4. Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
5. Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. A wading pool becomes a mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis.
6. Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths. Both provide breeding habitat for domestic mosquitoes.
7. Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family that goes on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.
8. Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
– Information provided by the LSUAgCenter.
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