In the Garden
Friday, July 30, 2004
Additive can help
cut down on mosquitos
This is the time of the year when the days are warm and insects start breeding like crazy. Gardeners are always on the lookout for these build-up populations. Mosquitos are always an unwelcome pest, and gardeners who have plants that help their survival try to seek ways to prevent these pests from reproducing, especially now with the threat of West Nile virus, which we want to prevent from becoming established in Hawaii.
Bromeliads are an excellent addition to any garden landscape. Many fear them because of their potential to collect water and, therefore, become breeding pockets for mosquitos. But there are a few tricks for reducing mosquito numbers.
There is a product by Shaklee called Basic H that is an organic soap/detergent. Many floriculturalists have used this as a dip to destroy insects from ants to earwigs. But some have also used this product to kill mosquitos. A mix of a half-teaspoon of Basic H to 5 gallons of water (i.e., in a 5-gallon bucket) poured by cup or can into the center of your bromeliad will often do the trick.
Do not add more water while this solution is present, as this will dilute the formula and often prevent it from working. Be sure that the bromeliad cups are cleaned out before this solution is added. This solution acts like a water sticker that makes the surface tension sticky for mosquitos, ants and other pests. Mosquitos land on the surface to lay their eggs but cannot fly off, eventually drowning and falling to the bottom of the cup. I have emptied the contents of these cups to find mostly ants, but also flies and a good amount of mosquitos. This method reduces the numbers of mosquitos laying eggs, thus decreasing their numbers.
With the scare of the West Nile virus, we all must do our share in cutting mosquito populations down. Now plant people can keep their bromeliads and at the same time help everyone by reducing mosquito populations!
Now, if only the parks and roadways that get excess water -- you know the ones, where the water sprinkler goes on all night even though the water hasn't drained since the previous night's watering -- could be watered more responsibly. That is where West Nile could get a foothold. If you see such an area, especially near your residence, please let the parks or highway manager know that they're increasing the mosquito breeding grounds.