Staying inside during New Orleans' long, humid summers isn't much fun. It's better to embrace the heat by throwing lively outdoor bashes on rooftops, courtyards, back-yards and poolside. That means taking steps to eradicate pesky mosquitoes that thrive in our humid environment. Here's a guide to outdoor mosquito control.
Clean up any debris and tend to overgrown plants before the event. Make sure there is no standing water. If you have a pond or other water feature, consider including fish that eat mosquito larvae. Mosquito Dunks, a water treatment with mosquito-repelling bacteria, can be placed in gutters, birdbaths and ponds to kill larvae for up to 30 days. Mosquitoes need very little water to breed, so empty plant saucers as well.
Advise guests to wear long, loose white or light-colored clothing, which deters mosquitoes. Avoid wearing scented products and perfumes.
The most effective way to throw a bug-free party is by applying a barrier spray to the entire area. This can be done by you or a professional pest-control service. Barrier sprays are applied well in advance, and some last for three weeks. There are kid- and pet-friendly options, as well as natural options with shortened protection times.
Higher concentrations of bug spray offer longer protection. Repellents containing DEET deter mosquitoes from landing on skin with a chemical barrier, but can feel greasy and have a strong smell. Make sure to apply these sprays as directed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding products that are more than 30 percent DEET.
• Newer chemical repellents that do not contain DEET but also are effective are made from picaridin, which is virtually odorless and nongreasy. For people concerned about the chemicals in spray repellents, there are all-natural alternatives such as Buzz Away, made with cedarwood, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemon grass, but some won't repel mosquitoes for as long or as effectively. There also are clip-on bug repellent fans for guests with a strong reaction to mosquito bites.
Some people swear by citronella candles, while others hate the smell or say they are ineffective. As a relatively cheap option, place several candles or longer-burning lanterns around the yard. Keep candles away from dining areas since they tend to have a powerful scent. The candles also can melt in the sun, and citronella can leave oil stains on decks and porous surfaces.
An alternative to candles are spiral-shaped coils made from pyrethrum powder, which comes from the chrysanthemum plant, and other botanical extracts. Think of these as mosquito-repelling incense, which will burn for up to eight hours. Other coils are made with synthetic forms of the chemical allethrin, which can be toxic to cats.
• Pyrethrum was used for centuries as an insecticide in Persia and Europe. In the early 1900s, Japanese entrepreneurs Eiichiro and Yuki Ueyama designed the coil. These come with a fire warning and are recommended for use outdoors and in well-ventilated areas only.
Oscillating fans can keep the air moving, which can deter mosquitoes.
Electric bug zappers draw and trap mosquitoes using UV light. Some claim to protect up to an acre of space. Use an outdoor extension cord and place zappers away from the party, because they make noise.
Even if you keep your yard immaculate, you can't control possible mosquito breeding grounds in your neighborhood. Adult mosquitoes rest in trees and bushes during hot hours of the day, waiting to feed on humans. There are residual and shorter-term insecticide sprays that can be used on foliage and underbrush. An example of this is permethrin, which both kills and repels insects. Avoid spraying on flowers, as it can harm pollinating insects such as butterflies and bees.
For shorter-term protection, do-it-yourself or professional pre-party fogging is a good option to keep the area mosquito-free during your event. Fogging also will cover hard-to-reach underbrush. You will need the proper gear, such as fogging chemicals and an application tank. Wear gloves, a mask and goggles while using these chemicals.
A long-term solution for pest control is a permanent and automated misting system along the perimeter of your yard. These have timers for peak protection and spray pre-mixed amounts of repellent in selected areas of your yard year-round.
• "Mosquito" is Spanish for "little fly."
• The insects belong to the family Culicidae.
• A mosquito's wings beat about 1,000 times per second. The higher-pitched tone of the female's wings attracts male mosquitoes.
• Mosquitoes' eyes contain thousands of six-sided lenses that move independently and point in dif- ferent directions, which help the insects detect quick movements.
• There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes.
• In blood-sucking species, the female mosquito's proboscis pierces the skin of its human or animal host in order to feed on blood.
• Male mosquitoes only drink plant juice.
• Female mosquitoes often lay eggs in environments with standing water. In warm weather, eggs generally hatch within three days.
• After being bitten by a mosquito, some people develop painfully itchy welts from the body's histamines reacting to the mosquito's saliva.
• Depending on the type of mosquito and location, mosquitoes can carry viruses such as West Nile, Zika, malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever.
• Some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others: people with type O blood, heavy breathers (mosquitoes are attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide), those with certain compounds in their blood and sweat, people with high body heat and pregnant women.