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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Mosquito Vision: Can Mosquitoes See?

 
Have you wondered about mosquito vision? Maybe yes, maybe no, but you’ve undoubtedly experienced first-hand that these pesky insects manage to bite at all times of the day.

Perhaps you’ve even heard some of the latest research that indicates mosquitoes are attracted to the color red. Before you throw out all of the red clothing you own, let’s dig a little deeper to uncover the facts behind mosquito eyesight. The truth is that mosquitoes use their sight but also olfactory senses (sense of smell) and thermal cues to find prey for their blood meals.

Read on to see if there’s any good strategy for avoiding their bite!

First, How Do Mosquitoes See?

The human eye has one large lens. Mosquito eyes have hundreds of small lenses called ommatidia. These enable the mosquito to see in several directions at one time and to detect movement.

Mosquitoes see in black and white and perceive outlines and shapes rather than crisp, clear details like humans. When they’re on the hunt, mosquitoes use their two compound eyes but also their thermal detectors (located in their mouths) to seek out the prey and move in for the bite.

When the mosquito flies within 15 to 50 feet of you—day or night—you’re on their radar, giving them the option of moving in for a meal. Of course, only female mosquitoes feed on blood, so absolutely no worries if you’re dealing with a male mosquito (not that you are likely to know either way).

How Many Eyes Does a Mosquito Have?

A mosquito has two compound eyes—one on each side of its head. Although there are only two eyes on each mosquito, their vision plays a major role in prey detection.

Can Mosquitoes See in the Dark?

Yes, mosquitoes can see you in the dark. They have excellent night vision and can detect objects at low light far better than humans can.

How Mosquitoes See Humans

Mosquitoes use multiple senses to “see” humans, including their sense of smell, vision, heat detection, and, yes, if you’ve been wondering, even carbon dioxide detection. The first thing that typically attracts a mosquito aside from them seeing you is an exhalation of carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes have sensors to detect CO2. Then, they use their other senses to zero in on the prey.

New research indicates mosquitoes are especially attracted to the color red, including the reddish aspects of all skin types. Human skin—regardless of the pigmentation—gives off a long-wavelength signal in the red-orange range. So, when exploring the great outdoors, it’s a good idea to cover as much of your skin as possible.

When Is the Best Time to Be Outside to Avoid Mosquitoes?

When it comes to the best time to be outside to avoid mosquitoes, it’s really a toss-up. With over 176 species of mosquitoes, some are active during the day, while most are active at dusk, dawn, or nighttime. In other words, there’s no great time to avoid mosquitoes.

If you’re outside, you can almost guarantee some mosquito may be seeking you out. However, the majority of mosquitoes venture out at night to avoid the sunlight that can dehydrate them or even kill them. The daytime poses less of a mosquito threat to you and your family members, but it’s still common to get a bite during daytime hours.

Related Topic: How Many Times Can a Mosquito Bite You?

Mosquito Eyes Freaking You Out? Give Us a Call

If you’re hoping to find a better way to escape mosquito vision to spare you and your family from itchy bites, there is a way. Turn to the reliable team at your local Mosquito Joe for the top mosquito-repelling solutions for your property, including natural barrier treatments. 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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Invasive Insects in the US

 
Invasive bugs are a huge problem in the United States. According to Entomology Today, the economic impact of invasive insects is more than $30 billion each year. These pests can degrade, change, or even displace native habitats and cause all kinds of disruptions for other wildlife.

And when it comes to you and your yard, invasive bugs are a big inconvenience. While some invasive insects like stinkbugs are harmless, they can end up everywhere­—including your underwear drawer! Other invasive bugs, like termites, could do real damage to your home. Any kind of invasive insect is a nuisance. By learning more about them, you can better take control of your space.

Common Types of Invasive Bugs

These are some of the most common invasive insects in North America:

  • Several types of moths, like the leek moth and cactus moth
  • Wooly adelgids
  • Asian tiger mosquitoes
  • Several types of fruit flies, black flies, and sawflies
  • Termites
  • Earwigs
  • Stinkbugs
  • Mealybugs
  • Spotted Lantern Flies

There are so many other invasive bugs in the states, including many types of beetles, borers, scale bugs, wasps, flies and ants. It’s worth researching an insect if it seems to be destroying plants and trees on your property, or your house.

Wait … Are Mosquitoes Invasive?

When you’re thinking of bugs that are a nuisance, mosquitoes are probably the first ones to jump to mind. But are mosquitoes invasive? Actually, yes, there are species of invasive mosquitoes. The Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito are both examples of invasive mosquitoes that have snuck into North America in hiding spots like used car tires. Typically, these types of invasive mosquitoes prefer warmer areas like southern California.

The mosquitoes that most US households deal with are the Aedes mosquito, the Anopheles mosquito, and the Culex mosquito. Since an invasive bug is defined as a species that was introduced to an area where they don’t naturally occur, these mosquitoes are not technically invasive. But they sure are annoying!

Related Topic: Preventing and Eliminating a Basement Insect Problem

Tick Invasion: What to Look For

While it’s normal to find a tick from time to time while you’re outside, finding them consistently could point to a problem. Ticks are tiny, parasitic bugs that generally live in wooded areas and fields. They need human or animal blood to survive and can be carriers of serious diseases, like Lyme disease. When you suspect you have a tick invasion (because they are frequently showing up on you or your pets), act fast so they don’t get inside of your house, where they could survive for a while. An effective way to get rid of these creepy creatures is to have your yard professionally sprayed for ticks during their most active months. You can also keep your grass and trees trimmed and try to weed your garden regularly to deter ticks.

While ticks often burrow under hair before biting their victims, they also attach themselves to other areas of the body, like:

  • Under the knees
  • Under the arms
  • The groin area
  • Inside or around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • The base of the neck

During tick season, which is any time of year when temperatures stay above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, be sure to check these areas on yourself and your kids. And don’t forget to check your pets regularly too!

Professional Invasive Species Control

As a homeowner, there isn’t much you can do to prevent invasive insects from migrating to your area. What you can do is prevent them from taking up residence in your own backyard and jeopardizing the safety of you and your family. At Mosquito Joe, our mission is to help homeowners take back the outdoors. Our traditional and natural barrier sprays effectively keep pests away for up to thirty days, which can make the time you and your family spend outdoor fun again! To learn more, or to get started, give us a call at 1-855-275-2563or request an estimate online today.

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