wildrootsnj.com
Battling Backyard Mosquitoes, Easily and Naturally - Wild Roots
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about not just welcoming bugs into our yard and garden, but actively encouraging them.? But there’s still one bug that you’d probably have an easy time convincing this wildlife-friendly organic gardener to nuke from orbit*: the mosquito.? But this summer, I’ve won a battle against this enemy, if not quite the whole war.? And I’ve done it without neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, carcinogens, or any of the other garden-variety poisons that the agrichemical industry pushes on gardeners. Look, I don’t have to go through all the reasons mosquitoes are terrible, and I don’t even live in an area where I have to worry about Zika or malaria.?In the Philly row homes we lived in before moving to Collingswood, our patios were virtually unusable without a beekeeper suit in the height of summer.?But this year, though I can’t say we’re mosquito-free, we can now spend a whole evening sitting in our yard without being tortured by them. Our chief weapon is Bti**, a naturally occurring bacterium that has absolutely no effect on humans, plants, birds, mammals, or the vast majority of insects other than a few pesky members of the order diptera (true flies): fungus gnats, biting black flies, and of course, mosquitoes. Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) is marketed commercially as Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits, and the idea is that if you have a water feature near your home, you can use it to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it. But you can go beyond that and use these products to actively set a trap for them. We all know that mosquitoes breed in standing water, and standard advice is to get rid of as much of it in your yard as you can.? But you’ll never get it all, and even if you do, your neighbors will inevitably have some.? This is where the Bti comes in.? It doesn’t affect adult mosquitoes, but it kills their larvae upon hatching.? So why not set up some nice inviting standing water, toss some mosquito bits in it and hope that those lady mosquitoes take advantage of what appears to be a very promising breeding ground?? They’ll lay their eggs none-the-wiser, but their offspring will never survive to torment you. In our case, I set up a bucket in an inconspicuous part of our yard, filled it with water and Bti (tip: use the smaller bits…