Houston has received a slew of accolades lately; here's one that won't surprise you. We're on Orkin's Top 10 list for cities plagued by pests.
Enemy No. 1? Mosquitoes.
We have been celebrating the recent rains, and so have our mosquitoes. The American Mosquito Control Association offers some tips for protecting yourself and ridding yards of the pests:
Wear long sleeves, long pants and light-colored clothing when you are working outside.
Apply an approved repellent "such as Deet, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus."
Empty water containers at least once weekly.
Change the water in the birdbath at least once a week.
Dispose of old tires.
Make holes in the bottom of recycling containers to avoid water retention.
Clear gutters of debris.
Several new products aim to offer relief, too. Mosquitoes are attracted to some individuals more than others (the amount of carbon dioxide you give off, your body temperature, blood alcohol level, blood type and your body's chemical markers could all contribute), so there's no one product that works for everyone.
If you are avoiding the strong chemicals in Deet sprays, use the oils from certain plants. A citrus or a lemon smell will repel the insects. Opt for lemongrass or citronella, either putting the plants in your yard or using the oils in candles or sprays. Cutter and Off also offer Deet-free sprays.
Here are some other Deet-free products that could help keep those skeeters at bay:
The Skeeter Screen Patio Egg by Texas' Scent Shop is a porous ceramic container. Pour in a small amount of Deet-free essential oil in the egg, and it will saturate the vessel in about 24 hours to deter mosquitoes and other biting insects. It has a pleasant herbal scent (rosemary, peppermint, clove, thyme and cedar). It repels, but does not kill, mosquitoes in a 200-square-foot area. $18, scentshop.com
Mosquitno bands are waterproof insect repellent bracelets that offer natural protection from mosquitoes without spraying. Slip the citronella bracelet on to prevent bites for hours. Those who are particularly attractive to mosquitoes should slip on more bracelets, the makers say. $3.99, mosquitnoband.com
For serious mosquito repelling, the Dynatrap III Insect Eliminator gets rid of mosquitoes without chemicals. No zapping, either. The Eliminator is an odor-free trap that comes in models for outdoor and indoor use, too. Here's how it works: A fluorescent bulb generates a warm light that attracts the mosquitoes. A titanium dioxide-coated surface produces CO2 that lures them in. Then a vacuum fan sucks the insects into a retaining cage where they will dehydrate and die. The Dynatrap Eliminator works best hanging or mounted above the ground 3 feet or higher. $129, Frontgate.
Terminix's Allclear TableTop Mosquito Repeller is a portable mosquito repellent that protects up to 225 square feet. It has a fan-based diffuser than circulates a repellent made of essential oils - lemongrass, cinnamon, peppermint and geranium. $14.99, Home Depot and Frontgate.
For the inevitable bug bite, one new product aims to alleviate the discomfort and pain. Therapik is a portable FDA-approved device that soothes bites from mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets, black flies, ants, fleas, ticks and chiggers; it is also touted for stinging nettle and jellyfish. Therapik delivers heat at the right temperature to "deactivate the venom from over 20,000 different species of insects and sea creatures," reducing swelling and pain, its makers say. $12.95, therapik.com