Friday, June 29, 2012

War Against Mosquitoes

Not only are mosquitoes one of the peskiest creatures alive, they can also be harmful as they carry potential diseases through the blood they are always borrowing (and without permission I might add)! Stagnant water is their breeding grounds which means that those of us with ponds and water troughs must be proactive.  I actually went a bit crazy the first year we farmed here because I was completely unaccustomed to these little monsters. After doing much research, I incorporated anything I could to remove the presence of these bothersome critters! Here are some ways to rid your home and land of these insects.

"The days were warm. Mosquitoes came out of the Big Slough at sundown and sang their high, keen song all night as they swarmed around Ellen, biting her and sucking the blood until she ran around and around on her picket rope. They went into the stable and bit the horses until they pulled at their halters and stamped. They came into the claim shanty and bit everyone there until great blotches raised on faces and hands.

Their singing and the sting of their bites made night a torment."

By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Outdoor Ideas:

The thing which I felt was most beneficial was the use of mosquito dunks and bits. I have a once a month email reminder to apply these to our pond and water troughs because these are their breeding grounds. The troughs I do more often as the water is used more often. What these do is kill the larva of the mosquito using a bacteria called BTI which is only toxic to mosquito larvae. It is therefore safe for any other animal life to drink (also labeled for organic gardening by the usepa though not safe for human consumption). The dunks are more suitable for larger ponds and last for 30 days. Each dunk is effective for 100 square feet of water. Just drop them in! The bits are for smaller areas such as water troughs, puddles or any other small area of stagnant water. (If anyone has heard of any reason why these shouldn't be used, I would love to hear from you.)

Mosquitoes also dislike lavender which makes me love it more! I planted lavender bushes around the entrance of my front and back doors and near our patio area. They are so easy to grow and very low maintenance. They also attract lovely butterflies.

"This will never do," Pa said. "We must have mosquito bar on the windows and door."

"Besides, all the prairie grass is full of mosquitoes too. I'll go to town today and get some mosquito bar."

~ By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ideas for the Home:

In the home, keep fans going all night. The moving air is a deterrent. You can also continue with the lavender theme indoors by burning lavender scented candles.

Mosquito nets (like canopies) can be draped around the bed at night when you are really in dire straits.

Bath and Body:

*We use lavender castile soap and tea tree oil castile soap as a body wash to further discourage their attraction (I don't know how much it helps but when you are desperate you try different things). We also dab a few drops of lavender oil around our temples before bed which aids in sleep and repelling the mosquitoes (though for a short time as the scent does wear off).

Natural Bug Spray Recipe:

You can also make a natural bug spray and or/insect repelling oil with this recipe here.

"There!" he said, "I guess that fixes the mosquitoes."

By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Historical Note:

This battle of the bugs have been around forever, ever since the fall...

Dr. Livingstone's Mosquito Curtain
"Camp sweet and clean, but it, too, has mosquitoes, from which a curtain protects me completely—a great luxury, but unknown to the Arabs, to whom I have spoken about it. Abed was overjoyed by one I made for him; others are used to their bites, as was the man who said that he would get used to a nail through the heel of his shoe. "
~ Journal Entry of Dr. David Livingstone, Missionary Doctor in Africa, 1873


  1. Although we don't have a mosquito problem on our farm, I always make sure there is nothing to encourage them to come. Dry is the key. No standing water. It helps to live on a hill where the water runs down instead of making puddles and the breeze blows. I did get dengue fever 2 years ago from a mosquito bite from another part of the island and it was horrible. It took 2 months to recuperate.

    1. Yes, standing water is the key but with animals on a farm and a pond in back that is hard to do :(

      Dengue is a concern of mine as there was an epidemic of it in our area recently. Thank you for sharing and I am glad you did recover, though it took awhile. YIKES!

      Have a good weekend Jean!

  2. I have been reading today on the bulk herbs store website about the use of vinegar of four thieves as an insect repellant. Maybe that would work for you all.

    1. Thank you for the additional information! I will have to look into that. It's a new one for me.

  3. Great information! I have also read you can use Rosemary - have you tried that? I am terribly allergic to Lavender which makes me sad since I love its scent, but it definitely doesn't like me.

    My husband, son, and I are going camping next week so I am going to make some natural bug spray :)

    1. Oh dear, allergic to lavender :( I am sorry! I have not heard of rosemary but I will look into it. Doterra oil makes a bug oil blend called terra-shield which doesn't have lavender (the brand is our personal favorite)... Just some ideas :)

  4. Mosquitos are really coming out now in Alaska and we mixed lavender oil with apricot oil after reading about your post on lavender and it really seems to work! They won't land but keep hovering. Sometimes they try to suck right through your clothing, but at least they won't land on exposed skin because of the smell or the oil or a mix of both? I'm relieved to have found something so simple that I can put on my small children without fear of chemicals. Thanks for your post. As usual, I always learn so much by reading what you have to say, Thanks!

  5. Such a great read. Very helpful tips. And those photos are stunning. Also, they say citronella is effective against mosquitoes.