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6 Plants that Keep Mosquitoes Away

6 Plants that Keep Mosquitoes AwayNow that school’s out for the summer and the days are longer, chances are, like us, you’re spending a bit more time outdoors with the family. For the next couple of months, we’ll enjoy picnics, barbeques, outdoor concerts and movies, maybe even take a trip or two to the beach.

But we all know that the summer months on the Gulf Coast of Florida are smack dab in the middle of rainy season, from Punta Gorda to Bradenton and beyond. And with rain comes our unofficial mascot – the mosquito.

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’re always looking for innovative new ways to solve pest problems with natural, organic methods that are safe for your family and pets. So we thought we’d share a few of the plants you can cultivate that naturally help repel mosquitoes – as well as a few added benefits!

Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

  1. Citronella – this may be the most obvious choice, due to its popularity in insect repellents and torches. That’s the oil, of course. You may not know that it’s also a small shrub you can plant around your yard, or grow in pots that can be placed around your patio. Their strong smell masks the odors that attract mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the smell can also trigger allergic reactions for some folks.
  2. Catnip – this is, of course, your cat’s favorite solution. In fact, you might find that this herb makes your yard the number one gathering spot for all of the neighborhood cats! Catnip is related to mint and is easy to grow. The range of catnip is not as wide as some other solutions, but you can easily crush up some leaves for added effect.
  3. Lemon Balm – also known as horsemint, the smell not only repels mosquitoes, but also attracts other pollinators like bees and butterflies – which may be why it grows and spreads so easily! Plus, it’s drought resistant and reseeds itself, so it’ll always be around when you need it.
  4. Basil – not only is it a popular herb for cooking, but its natural smell repels mosquitoes as well as ants, whiteflies, cabbage maggots and mice. Unlike some of the other solutions, basil has a pleasant aroma for humans and you don’t even have to crush the leaves for the effect. The most popular varieties are lemon and cinnamon basil.
  5. Lavender – another strong, but generally pleasant smelling solution, lavender can be grown in your garden alongside your vegetables, or in pots distributed around the house. Along with mosquitoes, lavender also wards off gnats. Many people find the smell of lavender soothing, promoting a more restful sleep and relaxation during the day. The dried leaves can also be placed in closets and wardrobes as natural moth balls.
  6. Marigolds – finally, the prettiest of the solutions we’ve seen. The popular flowers you probably planted in grade school have a distinct smell that mosquitoes and other pests don’t care for. And similar to basil, marigolds also help your vegetable garden – repelling the annoying aphids that tend to infest your tomato plants.

Of course, there are other all-natural options for dealing with mosquitoes – like our exclusive No Bite Zones technology, that turns biting mosquitoes and their offspring into vegans. Give us a call to find out more!

Dragonfly Spies: Coming to a Town Near You?

Dragonfly Spies Coming to a Town Near You?There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about spy satellites and drones and having our conversations monitored. But you might not realize just how advanced the technology is… or how small.

We’ve talked in the past about cockroaches that could be electronically programmed to be used as remote control insects, going places humans can’t or won’t go. They even used them in a movie!

Now scientists are launching their technology to all new heights. Creating the perfect insect drone – from Dragonflies! Seriously, it’s like they’re right out of a James Bond film.

Technology Takes Flight

Dubbed DragonflEye, biomedical engineers at Draper, with the help of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Janelia Research Campus have developed a hybrid drone micro-aerial vehicle.

Similar to the RoboRoaches, scientists are experimenting with installing a technology-filled ‘backpack’ on actual dragonflies. Technology that includes a miniaturized solar unit, optical stimulation technology and guidance systems equipped for advanced navigation.

Dragonflies are the perfect covert operatives – they exist on every continent except Antarctica, and their God-given design of 4 wings allows them to hover, change direction rapidly, darting capabilities and even the ability to fly in reverse!

But That’s Far From All

What’s more, the tech teams say that their advances could mean more than just the potential espionage uses. For example, in their experimentation to further control the dragonflies, they created more innovative fiber optics.

Traditional optical fibers were too stiff to be wrapped around the tiny dragonfly’s nerve cords, so Draper developed innovative flexible ‘optrodes’ that can bend light around sub-millimeter turns.

Say What?

For the dragonflies, that means scientists can stimulate specific neurons for flight or vision, without hurting the insect. But the hope is that the same technology could be utilized to create far less invasive laparoscopic surgery techniques, as well as advance replacement limb integration and control for prosthetic use.

And that’s just one potential advance.

They also hope to adapt the technology for other insects – enabling them to more closely study honeybees, learning flight patterns, migration habits and pollination techniques and finding ways to improve them. And that’s good news for everyone.

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’ve been studying insects, including dragonflies – which are great mosquito repellents – all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Ruskin to Punta Gorda. We specialize in 100% natural and organic pest solutions, safe for the whole family and more effective than nasty chemical treatments. If you need help, give us a call!

Modified Mosquitoes May Lead to a Natural Zika Solution

Experimental Mosquitoes Released in the Florida KeysFor almost two years now, we’ve kept a close eye on the Aedes aegypti or yellow fever mosquito along with the Center for Disease Control, Florida universities and the National Institutes for Health, because of their role in spreading the Zika virus (along with other Dengue based illnesses).

Concerns reached a fever pitch last summer when steps had to be taken to protect United States athletes and their families traveling to Brazil, one of the hotbeds for the Zika virus, followed shortly by instances of the virus appearing in the United States that didn’t arrive with infected travelers.

In addition to the fever, rash, joint & muscle pain and pink eye, pregnant women infected by Zika can pass the virus on to their unborn children, and can cause a birth defect called microcephaly.

Various methods to deal with the problem have been suggested, including avoidance, eradication, sterilization and our own incredible No Bite Zones, which turn mosquitoes from carnivores to vegans.

Using Bacteria to Control Mosquitoes

But earlier this year, in a groundbreaking experiment, scientists in the Florida Keys are trying a new approach. One that fits with our mission of natural, organic solutions to pest control.

60% of insects in the world have Wolbachia bacteria present in their system, including some mosquitoes, but not in the Aedes aegypti mosquito.  Scientists have known about and studied this bacteria for years, primarily looking for a way to prevent Dengue fever. Mosquitoes with Wolbachia are less able to transmit viruses to people, so the risk of outbreaks in those areas is reduced, and the bacteria itself is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

However, when the yellow fever mosquito is infected with Wolbachia, it has an unusual effect. When the males are infected with Wolbachia and then mate with wild, uninfected females, they will lay eggs, but they don’t hatch.

The Florida Keys experiment involves releasing 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, infected with the Wolbachia bacterium onto Stock Island. Twice a week for 12 weeks, the manually infected mosquitoes will be released at various spots around the island, in an effort to eliminate the yellow fever mosquitoes in the area. The hope is that the species will be eliminated, reducing the possibilities of Zika.

The experiment is based on a similar trial tried in Clovis, California last year. However, some researchers think that the Keys experiment is only a short-term solution. Yes, there is a potential for cutting back on the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, but that doesn’t keep yellow fever mosquitoes from other places moving back into the area.

They propose a different approach – releasing male and female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria. When females infected with Wolbachia mate with wild, uninfected males, all of their offspring are born with Wolbachia. This method would maintain the mosquito population and allow them to fulfill their God-given purpose as pollinators. And the Wolbachia bacterium would significantly reduce the chance of spreading Zika, Dengue and yellow fever.

Regardless of how the experiment in the Keys turns out, we’ve had great success with our exclusive No Bite Zones technology in Port Charlotte, Sarasota and Bradenton, really all over the Gulf coast of Florida, and we’re sure it’ll work for your backyard too. Give us a call and we’ll get you started!

Florida Has the Best Bug Scientists Around!

Best Bug Scientists Around at UFWe don’t like to brag, but we have a lot of great things here in Florida. In St. Augustine, we have the oldest existing (and still settled) European settlement in North America; the Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to play a perfect season;  we invented Gatorade, Coppertone sunscreen and air conditioning; and we have the strongest hurricanes… okay, so maybe not that last one!

And recently, the entomology department at the University of Florida was honored as the best in the entire world by the Center for World University Rankings.

How do They Know?

The Center ranks universities across the globe in 227 subject categories, ranking the education and training of students as well as the prestige of faculty, based on several factors, including the number of articles published in top-tier research journals.

The center uses data from Clarivate Analytics, formerly part of the Reuters news service, and is the only such list to rank universities worldwide.

The Center started the ranking project in 2012 as an experiment to rank the top 100 out of 25,000 degree granting universities in the world. Two years later, they expanded to the top 1000, the largest ranking of universities in the world – far more than the US News & World Report or Forbes reports.

That’s Impressive!

And did we mention, UF got a perfect score? Number 2 was the University of California, Riverside with a 95, with Cornell, Kansas State, and North Carolina State University rounding out the top 5.

And speaking of the best, we’ve made it our mission to be the number one provider of 100% natural, family-friendly, truly green pest solutions for the entire Gulf Coast of Florida, from Port Charlotte to Lakewood Ranch. Whatever your issue is, from rodents to ants to mosquitoes, we have the answer that’s right for you. Contact us at your earliest convenience.

And if you’re thinking of getting an entomology degree, we know the perfect place!

Pest of the Month: Love Bugs!

GNPS Pest of the Month LovebugsWe love our temperate weather here on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But when it’s 80-90 degrees every day, sometimes it gets hard to keep track of the seasons. So we come up with our own seasons – Tourist season, Hurricane season, Citrus season, Rainy season, and, of course our favorite – Love Bug Season!

Love Bug Season! That glorious time when the air on our highways and side streets alike are filled with overly-excited, amorous insects that end up splattered all across our windshields and radiator grills, as well as ruining the paint job on our freshly-washed cars and trucks (although newer vehicle paint has cut this problem down significantly).

Actually, Love Bug Season is twice a year – the month of May and the end of September, a great way to frame the summer months here in the Sunshine State.

Making Love… Bugs

Love Bugs are actually Plecia nearctica from the fly family. Their common name comes from how we usually see them… Car exhaust is a natural aphrodisiac, so they start getting busy in mid-air right before the source of their pheromone fix ‘knocks them into next week,’ as my daddy used to say.

Unlike many other insects, male and female love bugs do not have any distinguishing color differences to separate them. They are black with a red or orange strip on the top of their thoraxes. Size is a factor, though. The males are slightly longer than the females, but the females weigh an average of 3x more, and 70% of that is their ovaries.

They DO Have a Purpose

Speaking of ovaries, female Love Bugs that survive their romantic encounters lay 100-300 eggs at a time. The eggs are laid in swampy areas, moist roadside swales, and damp wooded areas. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae are much like their maggot cousins. The difference is, they devour the leaves and detritus, essentially recycling the organic matter.

Additionally, those Love Bugs that survive also serve as pollinators. Not to the extent of our friends the bees, or even the mosquitoes, but they do contribute significantly to the ecosphere.

Blame it on Texas

There’s a persistent urban legend/internet rumor that claims the University of Florida introduced Love Bugs accidentally while they were trying to genetically mate flies with mosquitoes.

In reality, Love Bugs are native to Central & South America, but growing industrialization during and after the first World War caused them to migrate further north. The first recorded sighting of a Love Bug swarm was in Galveston, TX in the 1920’s, most likely traveling as stowaways on a ship. From there the little buggers spread all along the Gulf of Mexico, and more recently, into the Carolinas.

So, whether you’re headed up I-75 to Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch, or down US 41 to Punta Gorda & Port Charlotte, there’s really nothing you can do to avoid Love Bugs this time of year. Just give your hood a good rinse down when you get home and try these other ideas for getting rid of them naturally. For all your other pest control needs, drop us a line! Good News Pest Solutions is always happy to help out!

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