Allison Jaffe's Blog
All winter we look forward to summer time... the warm weather, the sun, the outdoor activities. However, when the sun starts to dip down on the first warm night we get a reminder of the price we pay for all of those outdoor luxuries: bugs. First come the May flies, then the June bugs, and all throughout the summer we have bees and mosquitos keeping us company at every cookout, campfire, and football game we go to. Aside from being a nuisance, mosquitos can also carry dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases like West Nile virus and yellow fever. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, mosquito-born illnesses kill over a million people each year. In spite of their danger, our entire livelihood depends on insects like bees and mosquitos. Biologist Jonas Salk is reported to have said, "If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish." What Salk meant is that insects are the bottom of the food chain on which we and other animals depend. Flies, mosquitos, bees, and other insects serve as food for other animals and as pollinators for plants. To us, they may seem like pests, but our lives actually depend on them. So, how do we protect ourselves while also protecting the species of insects we want to avoid? Read on to find out.
Responsible Insect ControlFortunately, there are ways for us to stay safe while also looking out for insect populations. Let's go down the list, bug-by-bug, and talk about some of those methods.
- Mosquitos Mosquitos repellant is one option. However, as you may have heard, one of the strongest repellants, DEET, has been shown to cause health problems when used often and in large amounts. We also know that many gimmicky mosquito repellants don't work at all. Among these are "ultrasonic" repellants which claim to use sound waves to repel the bugs, and mosquito repellant wristbands. They might protect your wrist, but probably aren't strong enough to keep mosquitos away from the rest of you. There are mosquito repellants that do work and haven't been shown to have adverse effects on your health. Lemon eucalyptus is a natural mosquito repellant that is often found in bug sprays. Picaridin is a new chemical alternative to DEET that doesn't come with the health risks. And, finally, you should always wear layers and thick clothing when outdoors in mosquito territory.
- Bees and wasps No one wants to have a bees' nest where they walk every day. However, you might be surprised to find that those bees are keeping your flower beds blooming each year. To protect the bees in your yard, avoid using herbicides and pesticides in your lawn and garden. In terms of bee hives, we recommend that you only move the nest if it is in a particularly inconvenient location like around your door. Otherwise, leave it be. Do some research on the type of bee or wasp you're dealing with and decide if you're really in any danger before deciding to remove the nest.
- Other insects Just like bees and mosquitos, when you're dealing with other insect issues, be it in your lawn or garden, it's best to avoid chemical insecticides when possible. Not only are they bad for your lawn and for the insect population, but they can also enter groundwater and become harmful to humans as well.