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Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes!
Here'show to keep the blood-suckers out of your yard and off of your bod!


Q: Mike: I want toeliminate/minimize the mosquitoes in my yard. A high strength garlicproduct on the web called 'Mosquito Barrier' is advertised as a 'NoPoison' solution.  Have you or any of your listeners had anyexperience with it?  I have dogs; and wild animals like fox,raccoon, and possum pass through the yard, so I don't want to usepoisons. Thank you.
            ---Linda inStockton, NJ

Dear Mike: On a recent show you mentioned a garlic-based spray thatkept mosquitoes away for two weeks. I couldn't find the info on yourwebsite; can you help?
            ---Valerie,once of Norristown; now Pocahontas, Arkansas

A. Sure thing, Val. Now, thatinfo was contained in a Question of the Week last year, so it—alongwith a lot of other helpful advice on a number of differentsubjects—can be found at the YBYG section of www.GardensAlive.com,which you can easily reach by clicking on the "PreviousQuestions of the Week" link at our site, www.YouBetYourGarden.org.But ya know, it's also time for a refresher on keeping those nastylittle blood-suckers at bay, so…

There are several garlic-based sprays on the market. "Mosquito Barrier"and "Garlic Barrier" are two of the best known; available in bothhighly concentrated (99+% garlic) and dilute formulations in a varietyof sizes, you mix them with water and apply using any standard sprayer."Mosquito Repellent" from St Gabriel Laboratories is a pre-mixed 16%formula in a quart-sized spray bottle you hook up to a garden hose totreat 5,000 square feet of outdoor area. You'll find all three products(and other, similar ones) at some retail outlets; and on the web, ofcourse—just search the names.

Apparently, any mosquitoes (and similar pests, like chiggers, midges,ticks and gnats) directly hit by the initial spray are killed; then newblood-sucking fiends are repelled from the area for two to six weeks,despite the smell dissipating (to our noses at least) after an hour orso. Listeners have told me that the sprays work well; and here's a linkto a website that features testimonials from city officials, campgroundkeepers, a minor league baseball team and even a professional cropduster: http://organicbugspray.com/mosquitobarrier/testimonials.html

The stuff doesn't affect mammals, earthworms or the like; and MosquitoBarrier specifically states it won't harm beneficial insects—althoughit adds that you shouldn't hit butterflies and bees directly. Garlicsprays are even approved for use in organic agriculture byOMRI—(Organic Materials Review Institute)—the agency changed withdeciding which pest controls can be used on certified organically growncrops.   

Q. Hi Mike - We have flies thatstay in the back yard, and mosquitoes that only bother us in the frontyard. (I didn't know bugs had segregation!)  I've got to bathe inDEET to keep from being carried off by the mosquitoes! Can you help?
            ---Marcia inFlower Mound, TX

Mike: We had great success with the lemon eucalyptus bug repellent youmentioned on your show, but I haven't been able to find it this yearand was thinking of trying a Gardens Alive product called Sting Free.Do you have an opinion on its effectiveness?
            ---Amy inGlenside, PA

A. Yes, but first I want toannounce great news on the DEET-free front: In April of this year, theCDC (the Federal Centers for Disease Control) finally got off theirhigh toxin horse and acknowledged that a non-chemical product—"RepelLemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellant"—is effective at preventing mosquitobites. (As you might expect, its repellency comes from a lemon-scentedeucalyptus plant.)

Interestingly, the CDC shrugged off the other non-DEET repellant that'sbeen proven to be effective in medical studies, acknowledging that"Bite Blocker" prevents mosquito bites, but deciding that it didn'tlast long enough for them to endorse. (Bite Blocker's declared activeingredient is soybean oil, but the repellency is more likely due to theextract of lemon-scented geranium it also contains.) Oh, and that "StingFree" product from Gardens Alive IS Bite Blocker under anothername. You'll find Bite Blocker in some drug stores, and—ofcourse!—direct from Gardens Alive as Sting Free. (Oh, and ask them whythey call it "Sting Free", will ya? Mosquitoes don't STING—they BITE!)

A little bit more about that medical proof: In a 2002 study publishedin the New England Journal of Medicine, North Carolina dermatologistMark Fradin, M.D. found that "Bite Blocker" provided completeprotection from mosquito bites for an hour and half—not long enough forthe DEET-happy CDC, but longer than one of the DEET products he tested.(Canadian researchers testing Bite Blocker got much betterresults—three and a half hours of  "complete protection" in two1996 field trials.)

In a follow-up study reported by Dr. Fradin (the samples arrived toolate to be included in the main section of his published paper),Repel's Lemon Eucalyptus product provided complete protection for anaverage of two hours under the same test conditions. Its available onthe web and at camping stores—but make sure you get the right stuff.Repel also makes a lot of repellants that contain the nasty chemicalDEET.

And make no mistake—DEET is nasty. Plant based repellants need to bereapplied because they eventually evaporate into the air. DEET goes theOTHER way—it gets absorbed through your skin, exiting your body throughyour liver and kidneys. No thank you. I'd much rather put Bite Blockeror the Lemon Eucalyptus stuff on twice than have DEET says hello to myliver even once!

Many lemon-scented herbs, including lemon balm, lemon thyme and lemonscented geraniums, are also very effective at repelling skeeters. Juststrip off the fresh leaves and rub them on any exposed skin. (This iswhy I tolerate the highly invasive lemon balm in my garden—so I can rubit all over myself when the sun goes down.)

Catnip also works extremely well. I just spoke with the researcher whodiscovered this herb's mosquito repelling properties—Dr. Joel Coats,Professor of entomology and toxicology at Iowa State University—and hetells me that there are at least three repellants on the market usingcatnip oil as their active ingredient, but none are yet licensed by theUniversity. He adds that, just as with lemon-scented plants, simplycrushing up fresh catnip leaves and rubbing them on your skin worksvery well.

And he adds that he's recently discovered something even better!Naturally occurring compounds in the extremely bizarre looking fruit ofthe Osage orange tree, he explains, are great at repelling skeeters.Initially, Osage orange works just as well as the lemon-scented herbsand catnip (which again, protect you completely for the first couple ofhours just as well as DEET), but its repellancy lasts much longer—up tosix hours in initial studies. That's better than the nasty DEET product"Deep Woods Off"!

We'll keep you posted on these and other exciting new developments. Inthe meantime, if your friends catch you rubbing Osage oranges all overyour neck and arms, feel free to blame us.  

You Bet Your Garden   Question of the Week  ©2005Mike McGrath

HelpfulProducts From Gardens Alive!
Get rid of those common summer pests the safe organic way!

StingFree TM Insect Bite Protector
Repels mosquitoes, ticks and black flies, without DEET.
Each application stays effective for up to 3 hours. You'll feelconfident using all-natural Sting Free every day because it's derivedfrom plant oils and extracts.

No-Squito!Mosquito Bioinsecticide
No-mess pouch kills mosquito larvae in the water where they live
Drop No-Squito's easy-to-use water-soluble pouch directly into standingwater. Withing minutes its granules will disolve, releasing fast-actingBt israelensis into the water to target mosquito larvae.

LiquidAnt Killer & Bait Holders
A neat, tidy, convenient way to stop ant invasions in your house. Place the baited discs wherever you see ants congregating. In about7-10 days the ant colony should be destroyed.