Warming weather is already starting to bring mosquitos. Don’t panic! There’s a lot of work being done to curb zika (and other mosquito-borne disease) spread in the United States. Luckily, we’re not seeing widespread problems like they are still dealing with in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
However, pest management agencies are on the alert for elevated risks in Central Florida, so there’s good reason for us to do the simple things we need to do to discourage mosquitoes from coming into our yards and gardens.
1. Check irrigation and drainage systems for proper flow. Water leaks and improper drainage can lead to standing water, prime mosquito breeding ground. Spring is the best time to check and upgrade irrigation systems anyway. Zika prevention is another great reason not to put this off.
2. Clean up yard clutter. Anything that can catch rainwater — clogged gutters, overturned bottle caps, a folded-up tarp — is an opportunity for mosquitoes to breed. Spring cleaning takes on extra importance when it’s about reducing mosquitoes.
3. Make sure water elements like ponds are “living.” Water should be moving as much as possible. Consider adding fish. Control algae, and check filtration systems to ensure there are no stagnant spots. Got a bird bath? Clean and change the water as often as you can (no less than every few days).
4. Choose fragrant, insect-repelling plants for the garden. Mosquitoes hate the kind of fragrant flowers that humans love. Too bad for them and great for us. Your best choices are:
● Marigolds — the cheerful red/orange/yellow faces of marigolds repel mosquitoes with their scent
● Basil — you can make mosquito repellent spray if you can’t eat it all
● Lavender — versatile and pretty, lavender repels flies as well
● Lemongrass/citronella — lemongrass produces the citronella oils that ward off bugs
● Mint — various mints, especially citrus-y varieties like bee balm, horsemint, and bergamot, are great at repelling all kinds of insects
● Rosemary — the leaves can also be used to make an insect-repelling solution
Keeping mosquitoes under control can be great for gardeners and home cooks. It’s also the conscientious thing to do for Central Florida landscapes, and the time to do it is now.