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Column: To involuntarily give your blood

An opinion piece on the annual arrival of mosquitoes.
Spring in Saskatchewan means the arrival of mosquitoes.

The other day as I stepped outside after a sprinkle of rain, it had cooled off a little, and it sure was nice after the scorching heat.

As I proceeded to walk to my garden, I was attacked by a lynch mob of blood-thirsty mosquitoes that thought I was an eager blood donor.

I usually am not bothered much by pests, but this year my blood seems to taste like sugar to them.

According to Google, this has to do with a person’s carbon dioxide, sweat and body temperature. We all are different in that category.

Anyone I have spoken to so far this summer has the same complaint that the mosquitoes are relentless and are the size of pterodactyls, or it seems like it when they sting.

So, what is a person to do if they love the outdoors but cannot use bug spray? Do you wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts? Do you just suck it up and go outside without protection, or do you have other remedies?

Keeping the grass cut short is always helpful, especially in hot weather, as mosquitoes seek shelter in the tall grass to get out of the heat. If they do not have a place to hide in your yard, they will find taller grass. It is why they are more active at night in the cooler temperatures.

Do not keep standing water in your yard. It is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as that is where they lay their eggs. We have a small pond in our yard, but it also has a fountain which keeps the water moving, drowning any eggs that might be in there.

Citronella, lavender, lemongrass and marigolds are all plants that help keep the little stingers at bay. I am assuming that it is the smell of these flowers, as to me, they do not smell the greatest.

Google says not to wear flowery-smelling body sprays, but it did recommend geranium oils. I would say that it is a flower, although I have not tried it.

Another oil that was suggested is catnip oil. Last I heard, this is something that cats enjoy. Will this mean all the neighbourhood cats will be coming to my yard, which would create a whole new problem?

Many essential oil mixes apparently work, but to be honest, I have not tried too many of them. I have used peppermint oil, and it does work. It also works around door frames to keep ants out of the house.

Birds and bats are natural repellents. The more, the merrier. Now, I am not crazy about bats, but birds I can handle.

Purple martins, barn swallows, yellow warbles and waterfowl eat thousands of insects daily, including mosquitoes.

Yes, our lovely Canadian geese and ducks are great mosquito repellents, but who wants a pair of nesting geese in their backyard?

I have found that citronella candles or the sticks that hold the citronella oil in them and light up work great at our house, especially in the evening if we are outside. Our outdoor sitting area also has a fan that helps with the pests.

My husband uses bug spray, the one for ticks and mosquitoes. Although it does not last more than three hours, it does work well for him. For ticks, I tuck my pants into my socks if I have to go into the tall grass, as ticks are worse than mosquitoes.

We all have our ideas for repellents. What works for me may not work for another person, as our body temperature, smell and carbon dioxide are different.

I do know, I do not enjoy being a blood donor to mosquitoes or ticks.

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