Once bitten....Chris James
Like many outdoor people, Jo and I suffer from the occasional insect bite. This is doubtless exacerbated by the fact that our garden is damp and shady, conditions that mosquitoes love. In recent years we have developed a number of successful strategies for dealing with the problem, and others may benefit from our experiences. You can attack the problem at various stages:
Breeding. Mosquito larvae develop in still water over a week or so. In our pond, we are confident that the fish or other predators will finish them off, but water butts can become breeding grounds. In theory you can prevent breeding by making your butts mosquito-proof, so they cant get in or out, but this is difficult in practice. So we use 'Mosquito Dunks'. These are small, ring shaped 'biscuits' that release a natural larvicide into the water that is toxic to mosquito larvae, but apparently nothing else. We put a Dunk (or part of one) into each butt every month from April to October last year, and have had no mosquitoes emerging from them. The Dunks are not expensive but they only appear to be available from America, so postage costs can be appreciable. eBay has several suppliers.
Deterrence. Only female mosquitoes bite, and only when pregnant. At this time, they are averse to the attentions of males. This fact is used by the Moziban, a small battery-powered device that clips to your belt or pocket and emits the faint high-pitched whine of the male. Neither of us has been bitten while using a Moziban, so we reckon they work.
Treatments. As soon as you realise you have been bitten, wash the bite with whatever liquid you have to hand (we once used coffee from a flask), and, if possible, disinfect; Eau de Cologne is good. Almost invariably the swelling and itching will stop within a minute or so. We are most grateful to Roret Blue who gave us this valuable piece of advice! If you do get a persistent itch, the Click is effective: this is a small device with which you give the bite electric shocks by clicking its black button; it needs no electricity supply. It is slightly unpleasant to use but reduces the discomfort considerably. They are available from chemists for a few pounds. Even if you don't feel inclined to buy any of these devices, do remember the washing trick; its simple and usually effective. May we all have a bite-free summer!
First published in the Hampshire Group Newsletter, Spring 2006
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 23
© Copyright for this article: Chris James
This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2009. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.