Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ouch and More!

It's the perfect time to be in the garden:  insects are at a minimum!  I'm talking about the ones that bother humans - you and me - the gardeners - the outdoors man/woman - little innocent children!  OK, that might just take me into hysteria...

Some insects are just pesky.  Others can be real threats to the human population.  A little knowledge and prevention can go a long way.

The northeast is gearing up for a significant increase in Lyme disease.  Apparently, it goes like this:  mice eat acorns, acorns have yearly cycles of plenty and less, ticks infest mice.  When there are few acorns, mice die, when mice die ticks look for other warm blooded mammals - IE:  humans.

This area has it's share of Lyme threats from deer.  I know we certainly have our share of ticks.  It's important for every person who is in contact with nature to understand how to prevent ticks from making you their best meal of the day.

"Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear which can remain protective through several washings. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply repellents to their children, taking care to avoid application to hands, eyes, and mouth."  The website has additional information on the application of DEET on children.

Then there is the West Nile Disease problem transmitted by mosquitoes.  West Nile is a tricky little disease because some people seem resistant while others may become seriously ill.  It appears the older the person, the more apt you are to become ill if bitten by an infected pest.  Again, I use the US CDC as my source:

"What repellent should I use? CDC recommends a variety of effective repellents. The most important step is to pick one and use it. There are those that can protect you for a short while in the backyard or a long while in the woods. DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus are all repellents recommended by CDC. All contain an EPA-registered active ingredient and have been evaluated for efficacy and safety.  There are good repellents for every budget, age and preference. Excuse gone."

The bottom line for insect transmitted disease prevention is to wear protection every time you're in the garden (or where ever your activity takes you.)  Know the symptoms and seek immediate treatment if you think you've been infected.

You may want to read my previous article #41 "Dem Bugs, Dem Bugs, Dem Bad Bugs" regarding natural prevention and control.

And that's another thing you may want to consider this spring:  What can I do in my gardens to ease the chances of it being a perfect habitat for insects who need warm blood to survive?  And the second step is what can I do in my gardens to entice insects and birds that love to eat these "bad bugs"?

The first step is to try your very hardest to NOT use pesticides on your gardens.  That may sound like an odd recommendation when you want to kill every last one of those little suckers - literally blood suckers.  The problem and it's a huge problem, you will kill all the beneficial insects and perhaps the birds in the process.  You'll have less problem insects if you stop using pesticides and start enticing good insects.  It takes time to develop your land into this peaceful habitat where there's a balance.  Weather and the natural cycle of some plants will also be a factor.  We can never totally control nature.  We can learn to help.

One of the beautiful things about this early spring (or whatever we are having this year) is working outside with few insects to bother.  My daffodils started to bloom yesterday and I'm so outside with my camera today! 

"May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go."

Irish Blessing

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