The Angel Trumpet (Brugmansia) is back – what a grand surprise! The trumpet was in bloom before Uri barreled through leaving destruction in its wake. It isn’t the only tender plant to come back from the roots. The husband discovered tiny shoots on the split leaf philodendron. Patience and an abundance of rain have brought the garden back! 

Thanks to the abundant rainfall, the countryside is blanketed with verdant fields dotted with wildflowers. But with the soft, green countryside comes a winged nemesis, the mosquito. It’s difficult to go outside without a black horde of evil little vampires pursuing you. 

Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases and need to be dealt with in a thoughtful way with no overreacting. A county in South Carolina overreacted to that fear during the Ziki crisis and aerially sprayed Naled from a plane during the day. Beekeepers were devastated with the massive kill. Not only did this destroy the bees and honey production, it was detrimental for food crops that relies on pollinators. The insecticide not only killed the domestic bees, it killed butterflies and native bee species. 

After reading up on Naled insecticide, it’s frightening the possible damage to amphibians, animals and humans. If they had used common sense and sprayed at night when bees and butterflies aren’t active but mosquitoes are, the results wouldn’t have been as catastrophic. Ignorance and fear created the perfect storm. It’s important to protect people from mosquito-borne diseases. It’s equally important to use best practices when selecting and using pesticides. Always read the label and follow directions!

Some best practices involve simple things like emptying standing water when possible. Don’t forget to empty small containers such as pot saucers, cans, soda bottles and old tires. Anything that can hold a little water can become a breeding ground for the pesky little vampires. Keep grass mowed to reduce habitat for the mosquitoes. Add fish, especially minnows, to tanks and ponds or use Bactimos Briquettes or Mosquito Dunks.

A Howard Garret article recommends the use of “essential oil” plant oil pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes. Some examples of plant oil pesticides include Avenger Natural Insect Control, EarthHarvest, or Eco-EXEMPT. The use of garlic oil sprays can repel them for up to 20 days. Broadcasting dry garlic to the site at 1-2 pounds per 1000 square feet was effective. Bonide Mosquito Beater Granules are reported to be more cost effective and work better.

Organic landscape management encourages birds, bats, fish and beneficial insects which help keep mosquitoes in check.

A lot of the sprays being used by commercial concerns use synthetic pyrethroids like Scourge (resmethrin). This type of spray is particularly hard on people with asthma and other allergies. Many of these products contain piperonyl butoxide (PBO) – a synthetic synergist that interferes with the insect’s system, preventing it from neutralizing toxins. While PBO makes the pesticide more effective, it can be a concern for birds, lizards, toads, frogs, beneficial insects, pets and humans.

A good, organic home repellent from a Howard Garrett newsletter makes use of vanilla extract. Mix together 8 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon orange oil. Spray or dab mix on liberally. Be sure to use real extract, not a synthetic. Some gardeners recommend the use of vanilla hand/body lotion. Watkins Vanilla hand/body lotion is available at most retail stores. Favorite scent and gets rid of mosquitoes – that’s a win, win as far as I’m concerned. 

June brings us the long lazy days of summer. Children are out of school and probably already complaining how bored they are. Picnics in the park and trips to the beach are not the only thing that comes with June – Hurricane season has arrived. 

The experts give us their predictions – only time will tell if we will have a storm hit our area of the coast. We need to be proactive and take a few precautions. 

One of the most important chores is to trim trees now before a storm comes into the gulf. Tree limbs have the potential to damage roofs. Even if a tree limb isn’t touching the roof, high winds have the ability to force movement that can make contact with your roof. Trim to direct growth up and away from structures.

Before a storm heads your way, have a plan on what to do with outdoor furniture, lawn ornaments, potted plants and tools. Clean out your gutters and make repairs to your roof. Move hanging baskets and pot plants into the garage, storage shed or inside the home. This will protect them from wind damage or keep them from turning into projectiles. 

Your pets rely on you to keep them safe. Have a supply of pet food on hand. If it’s necessary to evacuate, be sure to have pet carriers. 

One should have insurance coverage for wind and water depending on location. It’s important to have insurance in place before a storm enters the Gulf – no policies will be written after that occurs.

You should make a list of valuables – take photos of items and save on a thumb drive. It’s much easier to prove your home’s contents with photos. Insurance policies and photos should be stored in a separate location from the home. A safe deposit box at your local bank is a good example. Be sure to have copies of all information at home and take them with you if you should evacuate. 

If you plan to stay in place, stock up on: food, water, alternate power sources and battery-powered radio, fully charged cell phone with back-up battery, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit and medications. If you evacuate, you will need to have medications, important papers and cash. Have a list of emergency numbers handy. Keep your vehicles in good repair and full of gas in case you need to make a quick getaway. 

With the way the weather has been lately, anything is possible so develop a plan and improve your odds!

Happy gardening.

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