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May 27, 2009–Today’s Way: Okay, I know I’m a little fixated on the mosquitoes this week, but that’s because there are just so darned many of them this year!  A snowy winter and a wet, rainy spring has brought lots of happy flowers, plants and trees, but it’s also deposited a lot of little vernal ponds of standing water everywhere, the ideal breeding grounds for massive mosquito egg-laying orgies.  But what to do if you don’t want to use chemicals to combat the whining clouds of bloodthirsty critters?  First, eliminate as many of the standing water traps as possible; used tires, fallow bird baths, ditches with poor drainage, gutters and abandoned children’s pools are some of the most common offenders.  Also, try to keep your grass trimmed.  And if you’re willing or able to build a bat house, that can help, too.  Best of all, you can use Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (aka Bti) pellets or dunks in your pond or other areas where standing water cannot be drained.  These little naturally-occuring bacteria are harmless to wildlife, plants, pets and humans, but deadly to mosquito larvae where they hatch.  You can find products containing Bti online, at hardware stores, feed stores and increasingly, in larger superstores.

April 30, 2009–Today’s Way: Along with the return of warm weather here in Michigan came the return of something less welcome: Mosquitoes.  We had a lot of much needed snow and rainfall this last year, which is good for our water table, but it also created a lot of vernal ponds from which mosquitoes have already begun to emerge.  With a large yard such as ours, it’s impossible to totally eradicate them, and using pesticide chemicals is simply not a solution considering the environmental and health risks.  Aside from the typical preventive measures such as eliminating standing water and keeping the grass trimmed, the best ally we have against mosquitoes is our bats.  Bats have gotten a bad rap over the years, but the truth is that they rarely come into direct contact with humans (they absolutely are NOT attracted to long hair), and they are amazing little insect eaters.  The average bat consumes about 3,000 insects in just one night—typically, the equivalent of their own body weight.  These unique flying mammals (by the way, they are not rodents) eat not only mosquitoes, but leaf hoppers, flies, ants and many other nuisance insects.  Furthermore, bats are actually quite clean animals, leaving only a small pile of highly valuable natural fertilizer in the form of guano (yes, bat droppings) that will fortify your flowers, shrubs and vegetable gardens.  This is why installing a couple or few bat houses in your yard and around your organic garden is such a great idea.

You can purchase bat houses, or you can build your own for free by following instructions found here.

By the way, bats serve a lot of other useful purposes and they are threatened.  To learn more, you can begin here.

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