Like it or not, it seems that the West Nile Virus has become a fixture in our annual vocabulary. Some cities, such as the City of Richardson, have already begun to send out their trucks to start their mosquito spraying campaigns in areas which have tested positive for the dangerous virus.
That’s all fine and dandy, but some people would like a little extra protection through the use of natural remedies. What can you do to help combat mosquitoes while not harming the environment? Here are a few tips we’ve put together:
- Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis) – These relatives of the common guppy have extremely large appetites and are known to eat hundreds of mosquito larvae a day. The Gambusia affinis are the perfect addition to a standing body of water that’s full year-round. They are known to eat their own fry and those of other fish, such as koi and goldfish, which can act as a good form of population control (as long as you aren’t a breeder!). These are extremely hearty fish and will have three to four broods of 30 to 100 fish per summer. If you don’t want a pond full of Gambusia, you can easily create a minnow trap from a 2-liter plastic bottle and release them to the wild.
- Citronella Grass – Citronella grass is a tropical plant which can be used in Texas as an annual. It is best to plant citronella after the last frost or in a pot so you can bring it indoors if frost threatens the area. It prefers to be in sunny, well-drained soil with plenty of water. The strong, distinctive smell of the citronella helps to mask odors that draw mosquitoes to your property. Make sure that when shopping for citronella, you look for the true varieties: Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. It’s best to use citronella as a backdrop to some of your seasonal color.
- Horsemint– Horsemint, also known as lemon beebalm, is an annual which flowersthrough the early summer. If you make sure to water your horsemint, it can continue to bloom as late as October. With its lavender-pink whorled flowers and mosquito repelling properties, this plant is perfect for adding form and functionality to your yard. Horsemint prefers to be in full sun to part shade with dry soil and is considered a native Texas plant.
- Rosemary – Rosemary is a great way to repel mosquitoes as you can also eat it! Plant rosemary in well-drained soil with full sun next to your outdoor living spaces. If you’re grilling, throw a sprig of rosemary on the coals for some added mosquito protection and great smells.
- Catnip – Studies have shown that catnip can be more effective than DEET at deterring mosquitoes from your yard! Catnip grows well in most parts of the US and has extremely weed-like characteristics. It’s best to use as a ground cover around areas that usually attract mosquitoes, like ponds with aquatic plants. Plant catnip in full sun and make sure to monitor its growth. If you’re not careful, catnip can really take over an area. Be aware that your catnip may bring all the cats to the yard, so to speak.
- Properly Installed Irrigation Systems – Standing water is the number one cause of mosquitoes. Have our Certified Irrigation Specialists check your sprinkler system to make sure that you aren’t contributing to the problem!
By: Wylee Wooldridge