The Green Homeowner’s Guide to Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Yard and Garden

 
A pollinator is any animal or insect that carries pollen from the male part of one plant to the female part of another. Some of the most popular examples of pollinators include bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats. Each species plays an important role in the pollination process, though bees tend to be the most relied upon.

Why Are Pollinators Important?

According to an article published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, “pollinators and pollination are crucial in the functioning of almost all terrestrial ecosystems including those dominated by agriculture because they are in the front line of sustainable productivity through plant reproduction.” These tiny creatures make such a large impact that, without them, our world as we know it would not exist.

Pollinators are so important that some companies — even those who specialize in insect extermination — have protection management programs in place to help safeguard the environment for pollinators and actively work to protect them.

The Relationship Between Pollinators and the Environment

Don’t be fooled by their name — pollinators do more than transfer pollen from flower to flower. The same article published on ScienceDirect explains that another role of pollinators is to “monitor environmental stress brought about by introduced competitors, diseases, parasites, predators, as well as by chemical and physical factors, particularly pesticides and habitat modification.”

Scientists can analyze these species to better understand the condition of the various crops vital to our food system. When they see signs of a decreasing population, it could be an indication of an increase in pesticides being used for crops. However, in more recent studies parasites, disease, and habitat modification have proven to have a larger impact than pesticides as more land is cleared for additional crops.

The decline in the bee population is so severe that various activists, scientists, organizations, and more made it their mission to spread awareness about the importance of this species. This has led to an increase in the number of bee conservation programs and activities that individuals can take part in to help prevent this vital species from going extinct.

Pollinator Conservation

Coming together both at home and within your community can help spread awareness about the importance of conservation. Protecting these animals and insects is vital to their existence and will benefit our ecosystem as well.

Finding ways to educate others on the benefits of conservation can help spread awareness and understanding about the importance of these species. If you have children, try to engage in more backyard activities, like building a backyard habitat, to capture their attention, get them involved, and teach them about the importance of pollinators. Involve them in the planting and maintenance of your family’s garden. Even suggesting the idea of starting a community garden can be beneficial.

One of the many benefits of educating your children on conservation is that it will teach them habits that will help them make eco-friendly choices as an adult. They can take what they learned as a child and apply it to their future — educating others along the way. Aside from personal development, planting gardens that attract pollinators has numerous benefits. For example, attracting bees and butterflies to your garden and community can:

  • Help signal when something is awry in the ecosystem.
  • Reduce the number of pesticides that are being used.
  • Provide educational opportunities.
  • Help foods and flowers thrive.
  • Contribute to the lifecycle of flowers and other plants.

How to Choose the Best Plants for Landscaping

Not all plants attract pollinators. Some may even do the opposite. This is why it is important to know which plants to choose for conservation landscaping. You will want to find plants that are in season and are compatible with your area. Let’s take a look at which types of plants are most attractive to the various pollinating species.

Bees:

  • Alyssum
  • Anise hyssop
  • Aster
  • Bee balm
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Butterfly weed
  • Clover
  • Coneflower
  • Cranesbill
  • Poppies
  • Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)

Butterflies:

  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Bottlebrush
  • Butterfly bush
  • Coral bean
  • Coral honeysuckle
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Firebush
  • Firecracker plant
  • Firespike
  • Gumbo-limbo tree
  • Horsemint
  • Jatropha
  • Lantana
  • Lion’s ear
  • Milkweed
  • Parsley
  • Passion flower
  • Pawpaw
  • Providing water to wildlife
  • Purple coneflower
  • Saltbush

Hummingbirds:

  • Beard tongue
  • Bee balm
  • Butterfly bush
  • Catmint
  • Clove pink
  • Columbine
  • Coral bells
  • Daylily
  • Larkspur
  • Desert candle
  • Iris
  • Flowering tobacco
  • Foxglove
  • Lily
  • Lupine
  • Pentas
  • Petunia
  • Pincushion flower
  • Red-hot poker
  • Scarlet sage
  • Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle
  • Soapwort
  • Summer phlox
  • Verbena
  • Weigela

Like the bee balm and sage, some of the plants are also great ways to help combat ticks and mosquitos.

Tips for Landscaping Maintenance

Just as it is important to purchase plants that attract bees and other pollinators, it’s important to maintain the land around them. Bees and butterflies get their water from puddles and damp soil. If your yard doesn’t allow for that, you may want to consider finding alternative ways to water them.

Installing ponds, fountains, creeks, shallow pans of water, or birdbaths can serve as watering stations for pollinators. However, if you choose one of these options, you must clean them often. Mosquitos and other pests and bacteria are often attracted to stagnant bodies of water. Cleaning a birdbath with a garden hose and non-bleach mixture is a great way to ensure the birds and bees are hydrated, without attracting mosquitoes.

Other ways to ensure your landscape is well maintained are to:

  • Mow often
  • Don’t overwater the lawn
  • Fertilize your lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden
  • Inspect your trees and shrubs for broken branches
  • Pull weeds often
  • Understand what type of soil you have

Pollinator-friendly gardens and habitats will require standard maintenance such as thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, and removing invasive plant species. When attracting butterflies and bees, you might also attract other insects and pests. You can deter these pests by investing in barrier spray services or an all-natural treatment option.

You can always discuss it with a specialist if you are unsure of how to properly maintain your landscaping.

Landscaping Alternatives for Rentals and/or Apartments

Those who live in a rental and/or an apartment may not have as much freedom with landscaping options as those who own their own home. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t have any of the flowers and plants listed above.

Participating in a community garden, making use of planters, and (if able) installing window boxes are excellent alternatives to landscaping while in a rental.

Alternative Ways to Shelter Pollinators

If you’re one of the many who have a difficult time maintaining a garden, don’t worry — there are still ways you can house pollinators without having to maintain landscaping. You can still do your part in the conservation process by investing in bee hotels and butterfly houses.

Serious gardeners and pollinator enthusiasts may even consider taking their conservation a step further and become their own beekeepers.

Beekeeping 101

Beekeeping is commonly taken on as a career. However, some may choose to pick it up as a hobby. But it isn’t as easy as it may look. Beekeeping takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication.

There are a lot of benefits associated with beekeeping. You can have access to an endless supply of honey, make various products out of beeswax, and help with repopulating the species.

However, along with the pros comes to the cons. Beekeeping can get expensive. You have to purchase the right clothing, smokers, hive tools, frame grips, and the bees themselves — all of which can cost on average around $300.

Beekeeping is a serious commitment. Before deciding what you want to do, you will want to be sure that you can provide the bees with everything they need.

Additional Resources and Further Reading

Here are additional resources to help answer any leftover questions about pollinators, how to attract them to your garden, and/or the impact they have on the environment.

Brochures:

Organizations:

Create a Pollinator-Friendly Environment

Creating a pollinator-friendly yard can feel intimidating at first. However, armed with the information above, you can confidently begin your landscaping journey with your pollinating pals firmly in mind. However, when dealing with pests like mosquitoes and ticks, it’s best to call in the pros. Your local Mosquito Joe has the training and expertise to help keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay for up to 30 days. We offer both traditional and natural barrier sprays that can help make your outdoor time fun again. To learn more or to get started, call us at 1-855-275-2563 or request a quote online today!

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How to Keep Bugs Out of Your Sandbox: Cinnamon!

 
A sandbox can create hours of fun for kids but sharing it with bugs is nobody’s idea of a fun time. If you’re looking for safe and effective ways to keep ants and other creepy crawlies away from the kids’ sandy playtime, cinnamon in the sandbox may be your solution.

This fragrant spice and pantry staple just so happens to be highly offensive to unwanted sandbox intruders. You sprinkle, they run!

While you may be hesitant to put pesticides and other chemical-based repellant products in or around the sandbox, cinnamon is child-safe, eco-friendly, and affordable.

Read on to learn more about keeping bugs out of the sandbox with cinnamon, so the kids can enjoy bug-free fun in the sand and sun.

Does Cinnamon Keep Bugs Out of a Sandbox?

Yes, cinnamon in the sandbox does more than creating a pleasant aroma. The strong, spicy scent also repels bugs—they want nothing to do with it! The spice contains eugenol, an aromatic compound commonly found in traditional insect repellants.

Bugs also don’t like cinnamon’s powdery texture, and cinnamon has chemicals that have been shown to kill mosquito eggs and repel adult mosquitos, making it a triple-whammy to keep bugs out of the sandbox.

Related Topic: What Are the Best Essential Oils to Repel Ticks?

How Much Cinnamon to Put in Your Sandbox

If you’re ready to add cinnamon to the sandbox, you may be wondering how much is enough. Sprinkling too much cinnamon in the sandbox can lead to eye irritation for the little ones who are playing in the sand.

For best results, start with one tablespoon of powdered cinnamon for an average-sized sandbox (typically 48” x 48”). Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the surface of the sand and mix it with a rake to disperse the spice throughout the box.

Another natural bug-repelling option is to use cinnamon oil: add a few drops of the essential oil to a spray bottle full of water and spray the entire sandbox area. Once dry, the kids can jump in for bug-free sand play.

Keep in mind that although cinnamon will repel bugs, it won’t necessarily kill them. If you notice too many bugs in the sand, it’s a good idea to dump the sandbox, fill it with fresh sand, and add the cinnamon to prevent a bug infestation from reoccurring.

Added Cinnamon to the Sandbox but Still Got a Bug Problem?

If you’re overwhelmed by bugs in your sandbox, it can be a sign that your yard needs some pest control help. The trusted pest control experts at your local Mosquito Joe can help make your yard itch-free with natural barrier treatments that can last up to thirty days. Give us a call at 1-855-275-2563 or request an estimate online today.

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Dealing with Bugs at An Outdoor Wedding

 
Outdoor weddings can be a wonderful experience shared with family, friends, and plenty of natural beauty. But along with that beauty can come a fair number of complications, including unwelcome guests: bugs. No one wants their special day to turn into a flurry of swatting or slapping away bugs. The experts at Mosquito Joe have some advice that can help make your special outdoor event memorable for all the right reasons.

How To Get Rid of Bugs for Outdoor Wedding

While you could end up with any number of party-crashing bugs, there are a few that are more likely to show up at an outdoor wedding. Some of the most common pests include:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Flies
  • Ants
  • Yellowjackets

There are several things you can do to make your wedding less attractive to these pesky party crashers. If possible, have your wedding in the spring or fall. Summer is the peak of insect season and a time when many insects are the most active. Make sure there’s no standing water since this can also attract a variety of insects. Keep shrubs and trees neatly trimmed, and be sure to rake up any plant debris that might be a haven for insects

You’ll also want to consider the time of day. Dusk is the worst time to hold an outdoor event because that is when many insects are on the hunt for a meal. If you can, an afternoon or late-morning wedding is ideal. This should help you avoid spending most of the ceremony swatting at mosquitoes.

However, if you prefer to have your wedding in the spring or summer during dusk or early evening hours, then you’ll need to do some pre-planning to keep your guests from becoming a meal. One way to keep you and your guests comfortable is to contact your local Mosquito Joe. They can help keep bugs away and your guests itch-free on your big day.

Also, if all or part of your event takes place on a lawn, make sure it has been mowed to the lowest possible length. This will reduce hiding spots for insects. Here are some other insect repellent alternatives you might want to consider.

Related Topic: Wedding Season = Mosquito Season

What’s the Best Insect Repellent for an Outdoor Wedding?

Insect repellents can be a useful tool for keeping you and your guests comfortable during your special event. Candles, sprays, and other products can prove effective at keeping insects away. So, it is a good idea to have them available, just in case.

  • Citronella candles are a good, easy-to-use option for mosquito control at an outdoor wedding. Lit citronella candles or torches arranged around the event space can help keep insects such as mosquitoes away. To create a barrier around the perimeter of your wedding event, consider spacing citronella candles about three feet apart. Although effective, this can be a somewhat unpleasant alternative for you and your guests because citronella candles do give off a very distinct odor.
  • Insect repellent spray can also be effective but is not always ideal. Although you can have cans or bottles available, some guests may be reluctant to use them because most leave a residue and have an odor that can linger for some time.
  • If you know the site you selected is particularly prone to insects, having the area treated in advance will help discourage pests. As mentioned, treatments like those available from Mosquito Joe are effective for up to 30 days. You can choose a natural barrier treatment that uses garlic or a botanical option derived from natural plant oils to keep pests away from your event.

Outdoor Wedding Mosquito Prevention

Aside from candles, torches, and barrier treatments, there are also some natural options you might want to consider to keep mosquitoes and other pests away from your wedding.

  • Essential oils such as citronella and eucalyptus are known for their insect-repellent qualities. Consider placing diffusers in the area, using incense made from these botanicals, or buying lotions or sprays that you and your guests can apply.
  • Grow citronella, mint, and marigolds. These plants naturally repel insects, including mosquitoes, and can be grown in containers and placed around your venue.
  • Consider a screened pavilion or tent. If none of these options appeal to you, consider renting a screened pavilion or tent for your ceremony. The only drawback is that it might not be easy to find one that’s large enough, and a tent or screened pavilion can detract from the natural beauty of your outdoor event (which defeats the purpose).

Keep Uninvited Pests Away

An outdoor wedding can be a very special, beautiful, and memorable event. However, if insects arrive, it could be memorable for all the wrong reasons. No one wants something as special as their wedding spoiled by insects. If you’re looking for an effective way to keep insects from crashing your wedding, contact your local Mosquito Joe.

Our traditional and natural barrier sprays effectively keep pests away for up to thirty days. If you’re planning an outdoor event, make Mosquito Joe a part of your planning. This way the only guests that show up are the ones you invited. To learn more, or to get started, call us at 1-855-275-2563 or schedule an appointment online today.

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Bug Cages: How You Can Make One

 
Remember when playing with bugs was fun? A DIY bug habitat can provide free entertainment for the kids along with a little entomology education. A homemade bug cage is also a fantastic way to keep insects to feed pet lizards or frogs.

Whatever your goal, you can make a bug environment with a few supplies that you might already have at home.

If insects are more of a problem at your house than a fun observational opportunity for the kids, then give us a call at 1-855-275-2563
or request a pest removal quote online.

Related Topic: Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

DIY Bug Cage Craft

To begin creating the homemade bug habitat, gather the following supplies:

  • Large, empty, clean plastic jar with a screw-on lid, such as economy-sized peanut butter or nut jar
  • Safety razor knife with a good handle
  • Hot glue gun
  • Fiberglass window screen material from the hardware store
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

To make the bug cage, take the following steps (adult supervision is recommended to use the knife and hot glue gun):

  1. Use the safety razor knife to cut a circular shape out of the jar lid. Use leverage and move the knife in a circular motion to cut the opening all the way to the lid’s edge.
  2. Use the safety razor knife to cut another circular or rectangular opening on the side of the jar. Depending on the thickness of the plastic, you may also use scissors for this cut.
  3. Take a section of the window screen and use scissors to cut a piece the size of the lid opening.
  4. Use the hot glue gun to apply glue beads around the inside of the lid next to the opening.
  5. Place the window screen circle inside the lid, using the pencil to press the screen into the glue to adhere.
  6. Cut out another section of the window screen material to fit the opening on the side of the jar.
  7. Use the glue gun to apply beads of glue to the outside edge of the plastic cutout.
  8. Place the window screen section over the glue to cover the side opening. Use the pencil to adhere the screen to the glue.
  9. After the glue has dried, use scissors to trim away any excess window screen material.

Now your homemade bug cage is ready to use and features plenty of ventilation for insects to breathe.

These environments are ideal for crickets, millipedes, stick insects, mealworms, praying mantis, and caterpillars. Of course, some bugs, like mosquitoes and ticks, are better off dealt with by professionals!

To avoid unwanted pests, keep your lawn well-maintained so mosquitoes can’t find a breeding ground. Contact your local The Grounds Guys today.

There’s No Need for Homemade Bug Cages with Mosquito Joe

While a DIY bug cage can be a safe and secure way to bring invited insects into the home, no homeowner wants a mosquito or tick problem on their property.

For help dealing with unwanted pests, call your local Mosquito Joe for safe and effective barrier spray treatment. Our pest control professionals provide year-round protection to keep you and your family safe. Give us a call at 1-855-275-2563 or schedule an appointment online today.

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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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