by Janet Laminack, Denton County Extension Agent-Horticulture
What is the world’s deadliest animal? It’s not snakes or sharks or even armyworms (fortunately), it’s mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes get the blame of being the deadliest animal to humans because of the diseases they can carry. Currently we are seeing a lot more mosquitoes, about ten times more than previous weeks according to the Denton County Health Department. This is not a huge surprise given that we have had so much rain lately.
Earlier this year, mosquitoes were trapped that were carrying the West Nile Virus (WNV) and the county has had one positive human case. Therefore, it is very possible that we could see more mosquitoes with WNV or even Zika. The best ways to minimize your risk from WNV or Zika is to wear a repellent recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These repellents should contain at least one of these active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin or IR3535. An effective organic control recommended by the CDC is oil of lemon eucalyptus; however, it needs to be reapplied more frequently than other repellents.
Also, look around your home and dump out any standing water. I know that is an impossible chore with our recent weather. However, you do not want water to stand for 7-10 days especially when there is organic material such as soil or leaves present. You know those yucky, stinky areas that mostly seem muddy with a tiny bit of water? The mosquito that carries WNV prefers those spots for breeding so look around at small areas such as sagging tarps, flowerpots, buckets, outdoor toys or even low spots in lawns. If you have a fountain or any other water holding vessel that cannot be dumped, use a larvicide that is based on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This bacteria feeds on fly larvae, has very little environmental effect and are safe for non-target insects and mammals. This is much more effective and has a lower environmental impact than treating adult mosquitoes. Be sure to follow the label on these products and note that they are only effective for about 30 days.
On to more fun things, join us at our annual Fall Garden Fest on October 13 from 9 am to 3 pm at the North Texas Fairgrounds. This free event is family friendly and full of educational opportunities for all things horticulture. We will also have Dr. Dotty Woodson and Steven Chamblee as guest presenters. For more information check out dcmga.com.
If you have ever wanted to be a Master Gardener, come to our Round Up informational meeting and learn what all is involved in becoming a part of this volunteer group. This event will be at the Joseph A. Carroll building on Wednesday October 17 from 10 am to noon. There will be a short presentation, lots of time for mingling with current Master Gardeners and light refreshments. If you cannot make this event, please look online to fill out your application by the October 19 deadline.