Fun Winter Activities for Families

 
No matter how cold or dreary the winter is in your area, you don’t have to stop having fun. Keeping the fun in family activities might just require a little creative thinking to come up with fun activities the whole family can enjoy this winter.

Let’s look at some great ways to keep your family entertained, including:

  • Cooking and baking
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Getting outdoors
  • Reading together
  • Having a self-care day
  • And more!

How to Choose Activities to Do in Winter

Because there are so many great options for winter activities, it might seem hard to pick just one! However, it’s easier than it seems. Here are a few good tips to help you and your family narrow down the activity that works best for you:

  • Determine what mood everyone is in. Relaxed? High-energy? In need of self-care? Assessing everyone’s mood is a great first step to making sure the day includes the right kind of fun.
  • Crowdsource ideas from the family. Just ask all your family members what types of activities sound good. Even if the ideas aren’t specific yet, they will be great leads.
  • Randomly draw an activity. This is like the crowdsourcing option, but instead of talking about ideas, everyone writes down an idea or two on a small piece of paper. Mix up the ideas in a bowl, and pick one. You can save the unused ideas for the next time you need a pick-me-up.

Related Topic: How to Keep the Fun in Outdoor Activities for Your Grandkids

Ideas for Winter Family Activities, Based on Your Mood

High-Energy Mood

Some days you just want to relax, and some days you don’t. On the days you don’t, here are some fun options for burning off some energy:

  • Get outside. Winter is a great time for outdoor activities, regardless of the climate where you live. Even simple things like walking or hiking take on a different feel in winter. If you live in a snowy region, it might be a good day for a snowball fight, sledding, or building a snowman. Feel like doing an outdoor craft? Try turning your old toilet paper tubes into bird feeders.
  • Observe nature. A great way to stay connected with the environment is to take the entire family on a nature walk. While you’re out, try to spot and identify as many living creatures as you can. You can log them all in a notebook, sketch them, or snap some photos that you can discuss at home.
  • Do housework. Really? Is housework a fun activity? Well, it can be, if you do it creatively. Neighborly® has some good tips for making cleaning fun for people of all ages. When the cleaning is all done, try one of the more relaxed activities below.

Relaxed Mood

If you and your family are in a more relaxed mood, here are a few good winter activity ideas:

  • Read together. Whether one person reads aloud, multiple people take turns reading, or you print off pages from a play and everyone reads like a character, reading is a great way to spend time disconnected from screens and connected to each other.
  • Do arts and crafts indoors. Crafts are a great, low-key activity. In the early days of winter, you could create ornaments or another holiday décor. As winter rolls on, you could make magazine collages, valentines, or anything you want! To take your crafting to another level, check out these instructions from Five Star Painting® for how to make puffy paint and how to make glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Cook or bake. When it gets cold outside—or when you’re pretending it’s cold outside so you can be cozy—cooking and baking are easy ways to warm up your day. Mr. Appliance® has tips for safely getting your family started with some fun kitchen activities.

Self-Care Mood

Sometimes, you just need a self-care day. Here are a few simple ways to take care of yourself, whether you do it as a family or individually:

  • Do yoga. Yoga is a perfect self-care activity because you can adjust poses for any skill level, you can do it alone or in a group, and you don’t need a bunch of extra equipment.
  • Meditate. Take a few minutes to sit with your eyes closed, relax, and refocus. Maybe put on some calming music or listen to a guided meditation that you find online. Although this activity likely won’t work very well for high-energy kids, you can adjust your approach however needed. A few seconds of calm can make a big difference in everyone’s mood.
  • Have a spa day. This could be as simple as soaking your feet in Epsom salts while watching a movie together. (This can be very calming for kids and adults!) Or you could go all-out with skincare face masks, shoulder massages, and more.

There are plenty of options for fun winter activities, so don’t let less-than-ideal weather convince you otherwise. Enjoy!

And once the weather gets warmer and you start planning more outdoor activities, think of Mosquito Joe, your local pest control pros. We offer mosquito control pros. We offer a mosquito barrier spray and natural treatments that help keep mosquitoes and other pests away for up to 21 days. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855-275-2563 or visit us online.

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How Do Mosquitoes Find You?

 
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, we spend a day or evening enjoying some quality time outdoors only to return home and realize, we’ve been bitten!

Even the most vigilant mosquito swatter has fallen victim to the blood-sucking pest that buzzes freely among us during the day and evening hours. And if you’ve ever wondered how a mosquito finds you, even in the dark, we have the answers.

It’s actually the female mosquito that’s after your blood; males avoid human contact at all costs. Females rely mainly on three senses to search for their blood meals—sight, smell, and thermal senses. Their sense of smell is quite good, due to olfactory receptors in their antennae that detect chemicals in sweat and breath. They also use other cues to find their hosts, such as moisture detection (aka hygric cues). To learn about how mosquitoes find you, what scents mosquitoes like, and what you can do to avoid the bite, keep reading.

Mosquito Vision

Mosquitoes have two compound eyes made up of hundreds of small lenses on each side of their head. The lenses, called ommatidia, enable the mosquito to see many directions simultaneously. As mosquitoes fly within 15 to 50 feet of a potential host, their ommatidia identify the host, although the image is not perfectly clear. They use their other senses to make up for visual shortcomings.

Related Topic: What Colors Attract Mosquitoes?

Mosquito Sense of Smell

Can mosquitoes smell you? Absolutely. Female mosquitoes use their olfactory senses to detect scents that are as far as 100 feet away. The mosquito’s sense of smell is the primary indicator that female mosquitoes use to find their next blood meal.

What scents do mosquitoes like? They have their favorites! Here are the smells that are most attractive to mosquitoes:

  • Blood. Studies show that mosquitoes prefer Type O blood and are not as attracted to Type A.
  • Perfumes and colognes that feature floral scents are highly appealing to the female mosquito.
  • Skin bacteria. Certain compounds present on human skin and in sweat create an odor that attracts mosquitoes.
  • Alcohol. Beer at the barbecue may be welcoming mosquitoes to the party! A study discovered that people who had recently consumed alcohol were more attracted to mosquitoes than people who had not.

Mosquito Carbon Dioxide Detection

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is another primary clue female mosquitoes use to find you. Your breath contains it, and they can smell it. How far can mosquitoes detect carbon dioxide? Each time you exhale, you send out a beacon to mosquitoes within a 100-foot radius.

Mosquitoes use hair-like sensors near their mouths to seek out the carbon dioxide source because they know that where there’s CO2, there’s a tasty blood meal. The more carbon dioxide output there is, the easier it is for a mosquito to identify the host. This means pregnant women and overweight people tend to be at greater risk for a bite. The same is true for someone who is exercising.

Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Heat?

Yes, they are. Mosquitoes detect body heat, and this factor plays an important role in whether a female mosquito decides to bite. Mosquitoes’ eyes gather thermal sensory information. When they sense body heat within four feet, they move closer to the host. This also means if you are warmer than the person standing next to you, mosquitoes are more likely to target you.

Related Topic: Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears?

One Way Mosquitoes Can’t Find You

Mosquitoes can’t find you if they aren’t in your yard! While you can’t hold your breath indefinitely or change your blood type, you can control whether mosquitoes crash your next outdoor gathering. One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes away is with a mosquito barrier spray from your local pest control pros at Mosquito Joe. We offer natural treatments that help keep mosquitoes and other pests away for up to 21 days. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855-275-2563 or visit us online.

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Do Turkeys Eat Ticks?

 
With Thanksgiving approaching, you may be thinking more about turkeys than you normally do. And all this thinking about turkeys may have you wondering, “do turkeys eat ticks?”. You can’t find anything about the topic on social media and none of your friends seems to know for sure. Well, don’t worry, we have the answer. 

The answer to this burning question is, YES! Turkeys do eat ticks! Their sharp eyesight and acute hearing make them talented tick gobblers. Both domesticated turkeys and all five subspecies of wild turkeys in the U.S. eat ticks and a cornucopia of other problematic insects. For that, we are truly thankful.  

Learn just what a turkey can do with their practiced pecks.  

How Many Ticks Do Turkeys Eat in One Day?  

A single, full-grown turkey can consume 200 or more ticks per day, under the right conditions. A female turkey can raise a clutch of 4 to 17 poults every year, which means after one year of reproduction, her turkey family (two generations, including her and her mate) could eat up to 3,800 ticks per day, altogether. That’s way more ticks than most other birds consume. All of this gobbling up of ticks helps keep the population from getting too out of control, which can help reduce the spread of tick-borne diseases. 

Can wild turkeys control the tick population?  

Wild turkeys can be beneficial because they eat ticks that are on the ground, in the grass, in low vegetation and even ones on their own bodies during self-grooming. Even though these birds are also tick hosts (i.e., ticks latch onto them), they tend to eliminate more ticks than they spread.  

Turkeys also eat other bugs, mollusks, and small creatures that can be irritating to humans and/or harmful to gardens. These include slugs, stink bugs, grasshoppers, snails, beetles, caterpillars, and small snakes. They also eat praying mantises, which are tick-eaters themselves—but turkeys are better at tick control than any bug ever could be (sorry, praying mantises). 

If you’re interested in attracting wild turkeys to your property, there are several ways to do it. For example, you can create areas for dust baths, scatter food (like cracked corn) on the ground, and create protected nesting sites. Just keep in mind that turkeys will undoubtedly gobble up all your birdseed in the process. They can even be aggressive during mating season.  

Related Topic: Control by Predators: What Animals Eat Ticks?  

Other Birds That Eat Ticks  

All this talking turkey may have you wondering if there are any other birds that eat ticks? Yes, many!  

Here are some other feathered friends known for having ticks on their menu:  

  • Chickens   
  • Guinea fowl 
  • Peafowl 
  • Ducks  
  • Quails 
  • Partridges 
  • Woodpeckers 
  • Egrets 
  • Oxpecker (endemic to Africa) 
      

These birds are known to seek out ticks as a favored food source. They could be considered true tick predators—especially the oxpecker!  

However, there are many other birds that eat ticks less frequently. Many will eat a tick if they come across one when foraging, so they are not considered true tick predators, like the turkey. Numerous ground-dwelling birds, including smaller songbirds, also fit this description.  

The Battle Against Tick-Borne Illnesses 

Although turkeys and other birds certainly do their part to control the tick population in many areas, they can’t be counted on to do it all. And with tick populations—as well as Lyme disease cases—increasing in many areas of the country due to climate change, it is important to take the job of tick control into your own hands.  

The pros at Mosquito Joe are experts when it comes to controlling pest populations like mosquitoes and ticks. We provide top-notch tick control services that help protect you, your family, and your pets from ticks and Lyme disease. To learn more about our natural barrier sprays or to schedule an appointment call, 1-855-275-2563, or visit us online today! 

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What Is the Biggest Mosquito in the World?

 
Have you ever wondered what mosquitoes were like when dinosaurs roamed the earth? Were they like everything else during that time, giant flying fortresses that were capable of carrying off unsuspecting prey? Or have mosquitoes always been small, annoying pests that prey on their victims under the cover of darkness? Well, some 46 million years ago mosquitoes weren’t much bigger than they are today, which raises the question, what is the biggest mosquito and where do they live?

The biggest mosquito is the Toxorhynchites speciosus, also called the Australian elephant mosquito. As an adult, the Toxorhynchites speciosus reaches a length of greater than 1.3 inches. The largest recorded mosquito had a wingspan of more than 4.3 inches!

Where can you find these giant mosquitos buzzing around? The gigantic Toxorhynchites speciosus is predominantly found in Australian forests.

Other Facts About This Massive Mosquito

While the Australian elephant mosquitoes may be the biggest mosquitoes in the world, they aren’t a threat to humans because they don’t consume human blood. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry about getting the biggest mosquito bite! Elephant mosquitoes are “friendly” insects that feed on the larvae of aggressive mosquitoes and on flower nectar, plant sap, and rotting fruit juices. Since they don’t bite, they don’t carry any vector-borne diseases.

This giant mosquito is charismatic and visually stunning, with bright patterns of gold, blue, green, and white along the body and legs. They get their nickname, “elephant mosquitoes,” because of their long proboscis that looks like a trunk. The females lay their bright-white eggs on a surface of the water—often in tree holes, rock indentations, or other small natural containers. Their larvae are larger than typical mosquito larvae and feature deep reddish and grayish hues.

Related Topic: Types of Mosquitoes

How Big Are Mosquitoes in Alaska?

Maybe it is because so much of Alaska is still wilderness, but many people think mosquitoes are the biggest in Alaska. However, it just isn’t true. Most Alaska mosquitos are similar in size to mosquitos in the lower 48 states. The legend of the giant Alaskan mosquito probably comes from the snow mosquito, which is the largest mosquito in North America, measuring as large as a honeybee. Clearly, the snow mosquito is no match for the giant elephant mosquito.

Have You Spotted a Giant Mosquito-Looking Bug?

The crane fly, also known as the mosquito eater or mosquito hawk, is a giant insect that looks like a massive mosquito. Despite their mosquito-like appearance, they do not bite. In fact, most mature crane flies don’t eat at all and only live a few days.

You can tell the difference between a giant mosquito and a crane fly by examining the insect’s body and wings. A mosquito has a humped form with folded wings, and a crane fly has a straight body and holds its wings outward. Another difference is the crane fly is a lousy flier and tends to wobble through the air. A mosquito is an agile, swift flier.

Small Mosquitos, Big Problems

Even small mosquitoes can cause big problems for you. Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your outdoor fun, call your local pest control pros at Mosquito Joe. Our trained and certified technicians offer effective solutions to control mosquito infestations of any size. We offer both traditional and natural mosquito treatment options that help make the outdoors fun again. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855-275-2563 or visit us online.

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