Summer may be winding down, but mosquitoes are still in full force. Fighting biting insects doesn’t have to involve harmful toxic chemical pesticides. In fact, homeowners can control mosquitoes safely and effectively using natural, integrated pest-management techniques.
Mosquito-borne diseases are among the world’s leading causes of illness and death today. But the dangers posed by the insects must be weighed against the dangers posed by insect control.
According to Dr. Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), don’t just reach for the DEET. First understand the threat level of mosquito-borne illness in the local area. Then use the least-harmful pest control methods necessary to protect against it.
“Don’t panic! Treat the relatively low threat of zika rationally. We don’t spray deadly pesticides where we don’t need to, otherwise the chemicals are more harmful than the mosquitoes.”
–Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director
Fortunately, the Chicago area is relatively free of serious mosquito-borne illnesses. Locally, prevention is a much smarter approach to mosquito control. And prevention is more effective than resorting to toxic pesticides after-the-fact to kill adult mosquitoes.
Here are 3 simple steps to safely lower the threat of health risks caused by mosquitoes:
- Dump and Drain.
• First, empty anything on your property that is holding water. Do this often!
• Also, remove debris from gutters.
• Next, trim back thick shrubbery and overgrown grass. These are places adult mosquitoes like to rest.
• Finally, fix leaky outdoor faucets.
- Protect Yourself.
• First of all, repair damaged or broken doors and screens.
• Also, wear light-colored clothes. And long sleeves and long pants protect better.
• If possible, avoid the outdoors at dawn, dusk, twilight hours, and night. That’s when mosquitoes are most active.
• Finally, close garage doors at night.
- Go Non-Toxic and Natural.
• Mist your property with non-toxic, natural biting-bug sprays. These include essential cedar and peppermint oils. Learn more here: Natural Insect Deterrent.
• Also, grow plants that serve as natural mosquito repellents. For example, Citronella grass and geraniums naturally repel biting bugs.
• When possible, use natural insect repellents made from permethrin and picaridin. These are safer than those containing the more-toxic DEET. The EPA has a helpful guide to what type and how much insect repellent you need. Click here for the guide: Select the Right Bug Spray.
While traditional pest treatments can be effective, they can also be quite dangerous. Many pesticides on the market today include harsh, environmentally unfriendly chemicals. These toxins can put your family and pets at risk.
The EPA maintains a list of insecticide warnings. This list reports issues with some of the most dangerous pesticides. Most everyone will need an efficient pest control treatment at some point. But the safety of traditional insecticides has become a major concern for many.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM is an ecologically based strategy. Here’s how it works:
- It relies heavily on natural insect mortality factors.
- Additionally, it seeks out control tactics.
- These tactics work along with the natural mortality factors.
- IPM uses pesticides, but only when needed.
- An IPM program considers all available control actions, including no action.
- IPM then makes sure all the control practices work together.
Learn more about the EPA/CDC Integrated Pest Management approach to Mosquito Control here: Integrated Pest Management