Summer may be over, but the mosquitoes are still buzzing around. Environment Canada warned earlier this year that high levels of rainfall last spring provided perfect breeding grounds for the pesky bugs and summer was not much better for rainy days, so it’s no wonder mosquitoes are still here.
Beyond being annoying and leaving us with incessantly itchy bite marks, mosquitoes come with added health risks. Infected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus can pass on the disease to humans through bites. Human cases of West Nile virus have been recorded since 2002. Last year alone, there were 104 cases, up from 80 cases in 2015 and 21 cases in 2014. Symptoms of West Nile virus can include fever, headaches, body aches, mild rash or swollen lymph glands, but serious cases can lead to loss of consciousness, lack of coordination and even paralysis.
Meanwhile, the mosquito breed capable of carrying the Zika virus was also found in Ontario in late August.
I’m particularly fearful of mosquitoes and make it a mission to try new repellent methods I read or hear about. Some tried-and-true methods I use in my backyard:
Clearing out standing water
I know this seems an obvious tip: Be meticulous when you walk around your yard, especially after rain falls, and look for even the tiniest pools of standing water. I dump out my children’s toys, including sand pails, toy dump trucks and anything else that can hold water. I also peek into outdoor containers and bins with lids, in case water has seeped in during a rain storm.
Icaridin insect repellents
Icaridin (Picaridin in the U.S.) was approved by Health Canada in 2012 and has been proven to be just as effective as DEET, Unlike DEET, however, Icaridin is odourless, less irritating to the skin, and does not dissolve plastics.
These candles work five times better than citronella and can deter more than 80 per cent of mosquitoes for up to three metres. They’re also long-lasting, with a one-pound candle lasting up to 50 hours. Unlike the geraniol candles, however, citrosa or geraniums, which are often labelled as mosquito repellents, have been proven to be completely ineffective.
If you’re looking for a more powerful repellent, try electric traps, which have become more sophisticated in recent years. I have the Dynatrap in my backyard and have yet to experience a mosquito bite. The trap, which is chemical and pesticide-free, emits UV light, warmth and carbon dioxide that lure mosquitoes and other predatory insects. The traps come in different sizes and can cover up to an acre. I also like that it doesn’t emit noise so it’s fairly inconspicuous. I have to admit that I get a guilty pleasure from opening the trap and seeing the mosquitoes and wasps that otherwise take over my backyard.
Portable repellent devices
I’m aware that mosquitoes exist outside my backyard. That’s why I also have a portable mosquito repellent device that I can pack along when we’re picnicking or hanging out at the park. I also bring it to my bootcamp class which just so happens to take place at dusk, when mosquitoes are increasingly active. The Thermacell Mosquito Repellent repels mosquitoes and other predatory insects within a five x five-metre zone. Small enough to fit in my pocket, it emits almost no odour and works with the use of a single butane cartridge.
Wearable repellent devices
Most wearable repellent devices, including wristbands, bracelets or necklaces, are ineffective in warding off the pesky bugs. The only one that seems to have an effect, according to a study published in the February 2017 issue of Journal of Insect Science, is the Off! Clip-on Metofluthrin nebulizer, which has proven to reduce bites by 70-79 per cent.
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Author: Andrea Chrysanthou