Unfortunately, we're right in the middle of what the experts call the "peak biting season."
I'm sure you're fully aware of this--particularly if you've spent even a few minutes outside around dusk and had the unpleasant experience of being attacked by a variety of insects.
When I was young, and spending summers at my grandmother's house on the Jersey Shore, we followed some simple rules to rid the yard of biting bugs: We were careful to get rid of any and all standing water. We burned citronella candles if we had to be outside after dark. We covered as much of our bodies as possible, wearing long- sleeved shirts and long pants.
Quite frankly, none of the above ever worked, and we were always covered with red welts as a result of bites from no-see-ums, mosquitoes and the odd tick.
With the discovery of effective insect repellents during World War II, it seemed we could protect ourselves by remembering to apply liberal doses of such sprays and lotions with fairly good results.
Not good enough, obviously, since people don't seem to be using these sprays and lotions often enough, and we now have a new scourge that is killing birds, small animals and even people: West Nile virus.
At the end of 2002, the Centers for Disease Control reported more than 4,100 cases of West Nile virus carried by infected mosquitoes and more than 16,000 cases of Lyme Disease carried by infected ticks. These bites resulted in more than 277 deaths, 64 of which occurred right here in Illinois.
Needless to say, now is the time for everyone to get serious about these biting insects, and several new and improved products on the market will help us do just that.
We'll begin with a new yard and patio fogger and hose-end sprayer from TERRO that is designed to kill and repel mosquitoes and other insect pests.
TERRO Mosquito Killer Yard and Patio Fogger kills and repels mosquitoes, flies, gnats and small moths. The powerful aerosol fogger nozzle provides easy coverage of outdoor yard and patio areas. The active ingredients in TERRO Mosquito Killer Yard and Patio Fogger are permethrin and tetramethrin, two synthetic pyrethroids that are in the same chemical class as the insect-killing substance naturally found in chrysanthemum flowers.
It delivers rapid knockdown and kill of pest mosquitoes, providing long-term control of the potentially harmful insects. The 19-ounce aerosol fogger features an easy-to-use trigger spray.
TERRO Mosquito Killer Hose-End Spray will protect both yards and patios for up to four weeks. Simply connect the bottle to a hose and spray. There is no mixing required, and the active ingredient is permethrin, a powerful synthetic pyrethroid that kills insect pests and keeps them from coming back for a full month. The 32-ounce bottle treats up to 5,000 square feet of yard and patio.
Suggested retail price: 7-ounce fogger, $8; 32-ounce spray, $16.
Ultrathon insect repellent from 3M provides long-lasting protection against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, chiggers, gnats and the diseases they carry.
Originally developed to protect U.S. troops, Ultrathon insect repellent is now widely available to consumers. With its patented 3M Controlled Release Technology, a single application of Ultrathon repels bugs longer by providing continuous protection for up to eight hours.
It is splash- and sweat-resistant, and easy to apply. In fact, the can is designed to spray right-side up or upside-down, for convenient application and total coverage, even in hard-to-reach areas (like the back of the legs.)
Suggested retail price: $5.49 for a 6-ounce can.
Blue Rhino Corp., a leading national provider of propane and propane-fueled products, has developed SkeeterVac--the only mosquito- exterminating appliance with a customizable attractant system.
The exclusive FineTune Maximum Protection Bait System tailors attractant levels to effectively reduce mosquito populations found in a wide variety of landscape conditions. Once drawn to the device, SkeeterVac vacuums the pests into an oversized net, causing them to die of dehydration.
It is effective for a range of up to a full acre and is powered by propane--avoiding the need for electrical connections. It is easily maneuvered on its wheeled base to be inconspicuously placed virtually anywhere in a desired area.
Suggested retail price: $550.
The SonicWeb Biting Insect Control was designed to provide comfort to homeowners and outdoor types by enabling them to reclaim backyards during peak biting seasons. Mosquitoes and biting insects are genetically programmed to be attracted to four types of signals: sound, smell, sight and heat.
The SonicWeb captures these insects by simulating all four genetic lures. The unit features a long-range sonic heartbeat, and once drawn to the sound, heat, vibration and scent of the device, the insects will fly into the sticky paper where they are trapped by a strong adhesive.
A replaceable Ocenol strip emits a time-released scent that mimics breath, and the design of the unit combines ultraviolet reflection and contrasting stripes to visually attract the insects. Those poor bugs don't stand a chance!
The machine requires an electrical hookup.
Suggested retail price: $249 to $299.
Finally, the Mosquito Magnet Defender provides homeowners with continuous 24-hour protection from mosquitoes, no-see-ums, black flies and other biting insects in a half-acre area.
The Defender catalytically converts propane gas into carbon dioxide, the primary attractant for mosquitoes and biting insects. It disperses a precise plume of CO2, heat and moisture, while simultaneously vacuuming the mosquitoes and biting insects into a net, where they dehydrate.
If the Mosquito Magnet is operated continuously 24 hours a day, the trap effectively interrupts the biting insects' breeding cycle. This machine requires an electrical hookup.
Suggested retail price: $295.
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