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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!

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!

Pest of the Month: The Mosquito

Pest of the Month Mosquito As we start preparing for the annual rainy season, we decided to focus on everyone’s favorite Florida state mascot – the Mosquito!

We know everyone has stories about how annoying mosquitoes are, but we’d like to focus first on the good that mosquitoes do.

Yes, really.

Yes, yes they do. For starters, mosquitoes provide a steady protein diet to birds, fish, dragonflies, frogs, salamanders and other reptile and amphibious life. That’s actually a huge impact on our ecosystem.

Not enough? Okay, fine. Here’s a better one: after bees, mosquitoes are the number TWO pollinator in the world. There are certain flowers, like the various orchids, that are almost exclusively pollinated by mosquitoes!

And really, your beef is only with the momma mosquitoes. The males only consume pollen and nectar. And the females only drink blood when they’re pregnant.

How Many?

Did you know there’s more than 3500 species of mosquitoes? Only about 175 of them exist in the United States, and only 80 of those species are interested in our blood. Unfortunately, Florida has most of those species. And really, it’s partly our fault – most mosquitoes would much rather bite cattle, livestock and wild game. There’s just not as many of those around as our Florida communities grow and build.

Mosquitoes are some of the oldest insects in recorded history. Aristotle mentions them in his writings about 300 years before Jesus was born. And if you remember the movie – Jurassic Park got that part of their science right – mosquitoes have been found encased in amber and fossilized from the Jurassic period, 210 million years ago.

The bumps on your arms and legs are an allergic reaction to the momma mosquito’s saliva that she pushes into you to thin your blood, making it easier for her to draw it out. It also contains a mild sedative, which is why you don’t always feel her “biting” you.

Now That’s a Momma!

When the momma mosquito reaches full term, she gives birth to 2-300 eggs at one time, in standing water. The water dries up and the eggs lay dormant until they get exposed to water again – sometimes for years!

Female mosquitoes live for about 2-3 months, and can get pregnant 3 times during that lifespan. The males only live about 10 days – and they identify the females of their specific species by listening for the sound of their wings beating. Each species has a slightly different pitch.

But What I Really Want to Know…

We know what you’re thinking – that’s all super interesting, but the main thing I care about is not getting bit. We hear you. Mosquitoes can sense our body heat, smell the carbon dioxide on our breath, and the more than 300 chemicals your skin secretes. Wearing dark clothes makes your body warmer and more obvious target, and drinking alcohol makes your CO2 smell sweeter and is a big draw for the biters.

Like everyone else, we’ll mention that it usually helps to keep exposed skin to a minimum, but, c’mon, this is Florida – it’s hot, it’s muggy, and besides… We have a better way!

A Better Solution?

Good News Pest Solutions’ exclusive No Bite Zones Mosquito Protection Program protects your family and pets, now and for the future. The 100% safe, organic treatment doesn’t even harm the momma mosquitoes – it just turns them and their soon to hatch babies into vegans! That means no harmful chemicals, annoying aerosol sprays, or slathering on calamine lotion.

Now is the best time to get started on the program, whether you’re in Lakewood Ranch, Apollo Beach or Port Charlotte. As much as we love them, we have to admit that mosquitoes also spread diseases like Malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus. And in the last 6 months, it looks like St. Louis Encephalitis might be making a return (at least in California).

By the way…

Mosquitoes also carry heartworms. That’s bad news for our four legged family members. But not to worry, not only are our No Bite Zones safe for your pets, they’re vastly more affordable than the cost of de-worming your dog or cat (yeah, cats get them too).

You really shouldn’t delay. Getting started with No Bite Zones is quick and easy. Give us a call and we can get you a quote and explain the process over the phone. And if you’re not one of our Go Green Plus 3 or Term Assure 365 customers, we’d be happy to explain those programs to you too.

For now, let’s raise a cup of the perfect summertime drink, lemonade, to our incredible insect neighbors, the mosquitoes!

Bat Maternity Season Is Coming!

Bat Maternity SeasonIn the recent trailer for The Justice League movie, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman, “It’s good to see you playing well with others again.”

According to the comics, Bruce Wayne chose to dress like a bat to strike fear into the hearts of villains, typically a “superstitious and cowardly lot.” And from Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897, through present-day Halloween, we tend to focus mostly on the, well, scarier aspects of these flying rodents.

(One notable exception – Rosita, the bilingual muppet on Sesame Street was designed to resemble one of her native Mexico’s fruit bats, her full name being Rosita, La Monstrua de las Cuevas.)

There’s so much more about bats that makes them interesting: they breastfeed their young – called pups – they are great at pest control – by eating mosquitoes and other pesky insects, they save us billions of dollars in unneeded pesticides, not to mention saving us from the side effects of those toxic chemicals. And even the truly scary ones – vampire bats, don’t suck your blood and are only found in South America.  Only 1% of all bats carry rabies, and those that do die within hours.

There are 13 distinct bat species in Florida – where, by the way, bats are an endangered species. That means, just like Manatees, Red Pandas and Gopher Tortoises, you can’t intentionally kill or threaten them. Bats are some of the longest living mammals, especially for their size, and they all give birth at about the same time, from April 15 – August 15 every year. Imagine how busy those bat maternity wards must get!

Because of their endangered status, we have to be very careful not to kill or wound bats when we have to deal with them – not that we would anyway! As always, Good News Pest Solutions looks for the best, safest solution for our clients and the environment. That means we don’t hurt them, rather, we do what’s called bat exclusion.

Bats are very territorial and will always return to their ‘home roost,’ given the opportunity. So, we have to help them relocate. We determine entry points by observing the bats and inspecting for their guano (bat droppings). Once we’ve targeted their point of entry, we drape netting, so that the bats can leave to feed but cannot return. Within a week, the bats have infested and imprinted a new roosting site and the entry points can be sealed.

Because bat pups cannot fly until they’re older, we cannot do bat exclusion during their maternity season – that’s April 15 – August 15, remember? Otherwise, the baby bats die and nobody wants that.

So, if your home in Port Charlotte or Sarasota is infested with bats, well, either contact us now, or enjoy your role as a happy bat pup nursery until mid-August. Think of all the good you’ll be doing when those birds, er, bats, fly the coop, and start harvesting mosquitoes!

Whether you call now or in the fall, we’re always happy to help our flying pest control friends find a new home!

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