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9 Tips to Mosquito-Proof Your Yard

Mosquito season has grown from nuisance to danger. Some parts of the country — espe­cially Florida and the Gulf states into Texas — are at risk of being exposed to mosqui­toes that could potentially carry the Zika virus, accord­ing to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to breaking out the bug spray, what other precautions should people take?

Mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are known as Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and unlike other mosquitoes they are especially aggres­sive during the day and only land on humans for a short time, making them harder to spot and swat, said Jeff Anderson, the agronomy and horticulture agent for New Mexico State University’s Doña Ana County Coopera­tive Extension Service.

Anderson offers the following tips for mosquito-proofing your yard:

• Get rid of any standing water around your home. Old tires, plastic buckets and toys left outside can collect rain­water, into which mosquitoes lay eggs. Taking care of your property won’t just help you; it will help the whole neighborhood.

• Don’t overwater. Too much water on your lawn can make it a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s also a good idea to water in the morning instead of in the evening, so the soil has an opportunity to dry during the day.

• Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET when you’re outdoors. For those allergic to DEET, stores often have natural repellent alternatives.

• Some forms of euca­lyptus and lavender can repel mosquitoes simply by being planted in an area. Other plants, such as basil and catnip, produce mosquito-repelling oils in their leaves, which can be crushed and used in sprays.

• Essential oils including citrus, lemon eucalyptus, cedar, garlic and citronella are useful in keeping mosqui­toes at bay and can be bought locally or online.

• A number of granular mosquito prevention products for lawns and floating prod­ucts for use in water features contain natural bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, which is toxic to mosquitoes but won’t hurt pets, humans or other animals.

• Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, and dark-colored clothing tends to retain heat. During mosquito season, make sure to wear clothes that are light-colored, loose-fitting and long-sleeved.

• Studies have found that commercial carbon dioxide mosquito traps can kill thou­sands of mosquitoes a night. Bug zappers, on the other hand, aren’t as effective. Zappers kill bugs indis­criminately, and only about 1 percent of the zapped bugs turn out to be mosquitoes.

 • A number of chemical products specifically designed for mosquito control are available at local stores. Make sure to check for these products early and stock up. Stores will sometimes run out before the end of mosquito season.

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