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The Perils of Gardening

Is it just me or are the mosquitoes particularly rampant this year?  I was outside today, weeding the garden from 4:30 to 5:00, and was well awash in Off, but it was no deterrent to the little demons. I came out of the garden with a bucketful of weeds and half my body covered in bites.  According to my partner, they have “mosquitocation,” and tell each other when and where to find fresh blood. They have also, it seems, drifted down lower on the anatomy. Despite the fact I was leaning down, with my arms well within their reach, I don’t have a spot on my upper body.  Maybe they are getting smarter and sense that arms are attached to hands, which with the power of the third sister Fate can swat the life out of you.

The only thing cut short was my gardening today.  I fled to the front yard to gather up some plantain to treat myself as quick as I could.  As I was plucking the plantain leaves, I saw my next-door neighbor who mentioned his mosquitoes are so bad, he won’t even go out back.  They must be aware of this, for they’ve migrated to my side.

QUESTION: how’s the mosquito population in your ecosystem this year? Have you had any luck with products or approaches to keep them at bay? I’m not crazy about using products that smell like they don’t belong on human skin.  Can anyone recommend some good natural products or, better yet, something that might be already available in the garden?  Also share any effective treatments once you’ve already been affected. I’ve found plantain leaves to work well but if you have a bunch of bites like I do today, it’s hard to get them covered quickly, especially since the treatment is most effective within the first few minutes of getting a bite.  (I typically just crinkle them up, and rub the juice on the bites).

So, any suggestions to combat this year’s most pesky pest? Go ahead, gimme the dirt!

What I wanted to get:

20120812-175618.jpg

What I did get:

20120812-175644.jpg

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One response to “The Perils of Gardening

  1. Ralph ⋅

    Most of my garden time is spent on a deck set back a little from the ground. I haven’t been bit too much, but I guess being above the ground most of the time and being out in the hot sun has spared me many bites. I don’t think most bugs like strong sun, at least based on what I’ve seen. Bees and wasps don’t bother me when they are around, I think we have come to the understanding that I plant things for them and they are welcome- so long as they leave me alone. There is a small section of woods not far from me so there are probably loads of bugs around, but they seem to be most active around dusk and dawn. Last year I would get attacked in the early morning when watering, so I don’t go out that early any more.

    Bugs are often attracted to scents we can’t detect, and at least some can see light we can’t (UV). I have no way of knowing, but it is possible the home made soaps without chemical scents may have something to do with it. I am currently most of the way through a bar of lemon soap. According to their site, http://www.simplycleansing.com/?cat=19
    http://www.simplycleansing.com/?p=98
    spearmint helps repel bugs. Of the soaps I tried so far, spearmint is one of my favorite. Most of my growing mint has died (I miss my fresh spearmint tea), but if you have some growing try rubbing some on your skin, or if you wear a hat maybe put a few branches around it and see if it keeps the bugs away from your face and neck.

    When I do get bit (currently on my ankle) and it itches a lot I usually put good old fashion iodine on it. Excluding an iodine allergy or thyroid problems, a little extra iodine is usually a good thing since most people are deficient in it. Anyway, after the initial burn of putting it on it feels much better. Iodine is a poison if enough is ingested so keep it away from children. The main drawback of iodine is the brown stain it leaves on skin for a while. Personally I don’t care, it’s better than itching or an infection. Don’t ‘paint’ too large an area of skin since iodine gets absorbed through the skin into the body. Iodine on clothes may be a problem to get off. I keep a bottle in my tool bag in case of cuts- inside a zip lock bag in case it leaks.

    BTW, I recently stumbled on a site http://thewisconsinvegetablegardener.com/
    They also have podcasts, and the one I listened to had information on canning. I haven’t explored their website yet, but it may be worth checking out.

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