Years ago, when we moved east, from what I called the “swamps of West Boca” to a place very near the beach, one of the things we often heard was “there are no mosquitoes by the beach!” They lied. Let the Mosquito Wars begin.
Important note: I’ve provided links to several products below. Because I’m Allergic to Money, none of these are “partner links”, i.e. I won’t be paid to sponsor or promote these products, so feel free to read on, secure in the knowledge that this is solely my personal opinion and no one’s paying me to promote their products or diss anyone else’s. [Is that even legal, paying to diss the competitor? Must look that up one day.]
Well. Those people were liars. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. During the one year that we lived on the 10th floor of a high rise, directly across from the beach (aka ““Our Year on a Cruise Ship”“), it is true that there were few mosquitoes. Maybe they have an upper flight limit, who knows.
Now, though, safely ensconced in our two-blocks-from-the-beach home, a cozy two-story condo that’s more like a townhouse, the mosquito wars are at DEFCON 1. We have a lovely but smallish backyard, under 400 square feet, that we’ve outfitted through judicious Craigslist and Target shopping to feel more like a room, an extension of the house.
This patio is my favorite place to be. Really, I think I could live on it. Unfortunately, since the mosquitoes are apparently banned from the beach, it’s also their favorite place to be.
Let the Mosquito Wars Begin
From the moment of my first bite, I saw this as a call to arms, my own personal World War III, and I was determined to win. Calling this an obsession is a bit of an understatement.
My arsenal started out small: a citronella candle. The mosquitoes laughed (really, I heard them).
Fine, I thought. Time for reinforcements. I equipped our yard with a Thermacell. Trigger warning: Thermacell’s home page is full of a Hitchcockian animation of mosquitoes. I’m slapping myself just looking at it. Anyway, the combination of citronella and the Thermacell worked, but not well enough. Warning: You’ll constantly forget to turn off the Thermacell. This is wasteful behavior that should be controlled by any means necessary.
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Here we are at Bed, Bath and Beyond and oh, look! “Citronella Outdoor Sticks – The Natural Way to Repel Mosquitoes!” That’s cool, and also, “Natural.” And they’re powered by Essential Oils; I’m pretty sure 90% of the people I know are involved in some multilevel marketing scheme to sell me essential oils in one format or another. So that must be good, right? [Sadly, a search of B,B&B’s site no longer lists these – but get off the couch and take a trip there, because you might find them on the shelves.]
A Call For More Artillery
If you’re keeping track, we’re now up to three weapons in the arsensal. This is good, but we’re still not winning the war, let alone the battle. I do more online research – oh! Mosquitoes hate moving air! OK then. In comes the O2 cool, the 10-inch “Portable Smart Power®” version. Truly, this is an amazing fan that’s great for anytime you just want a cool breeze. We loved it so much we went back and got the five-inch model too.
This fan actually helps, as mosquitoes apparently don’t like moving air (or at least “our mosquitoes”, as I’ve started thinking of them as, sort of like those in-laws that come for a weekend and are still here six months later). But some of them fight these tailwinds and get through anyway.
They Really Are Vampires
And, apparently, those little bloodsuckers really are vampires, if the product literature on Terminix Mosquito Bait & Kill is to be believed. And by “really are vampires,” I mean that “garlic will kill them.” Note: It might kill you too, if you grew up in an Italian kitchen. [Kidding! We love garlic!]. Your yard WILL emit a strong garlic smell for
months a little while (seriously, about 24 hours). And you have to reapply monthly, or after a heavy rain (which, in South Florida in the summer, means “every day”). But – it works! Mostly. I’d estimate we’ve now got the mosquito problem about 80% contained.
The War Continues; Send in Reinforcements!
There’s that pesky last 20%, though. Determined to get to 100%, we get a DynaTrap®. I highly recommend this but be warned – you know how lizards like to eat mosquitoes? Also, you’ve heard the expression “Lizard Brain”? Yeah. Unfortunately our first DynaTrap broke in a gruesome episode of Machine vs. Predator, Home Edition, when a lizard (lizard brain!) went after a mosquito, all the way into the DynaTrap. It was pretty gross. But we liked the DynaTrap so much we bought another one. So far, the remaining lizards have steered clear.
If you’re playing along at home, we’re up to six products (I may have miscounted; feel free to comment if I have, Teacher’s Pet). Now, we’ve got the war about 90% won. I’m determined to close this gap and declare victory.
On my daughter’s advice, I strap on one of those wearable mosquito repellent devices. Warning: You’ll never remember to turn it off/take it off. It doesn’t survive my abuse long enough for me to guage its effectiveness. Sorry, daughter.
Next, I buy a bunch of “plants that repel mosquitoes!” They all die. Maybe the lizards ate them.
The Hail Mary Pass
Finally, out comes the bug spray. You might wonder why this was the last weapon we added to the arsenal. That would be because it seems to require more work than any of the others did, plus I have to apply it to my skin every time I go outside (which is like 50 times a day).
This seven-weapon arsenal does the trick. Closes the gap. Wins the war. Now, I’d say I get bitten by a mosquito maybe once a month. And so far, the remaining lizards are safe. ⧉