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A challenging (swat) time in the garden (buzz, slap)


I’m about to gripe about gardening, but I want to preface that by saying that I realize that in light of what many people are dealing with from Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters, this is small potatoes. So on that front, I am thankful that I’m in a position to be able to whine for a moment about the damn mosquitoes. 

If you’ve been following my Instastories, you might be sick of this story. Basically it was really dry and then it rained for two weeks and then a plaguelike mosquito hatch happened and it’s been pretty much intolerable to be outside since then. Here in Wisconsin, we know our mosquitoes (there is a joke about mosquitoes being the state bird, but I have a feeling that same joke pops up everywhere), so I want to assure you I’m not being a complete baby about this. 

Giant salmon zinnia, grow your own from seed
This is not a picture of a mosquito. It is simply a pretty picture of a zinnia I grew. You get this because I didn’t want to stand outside trying to take pictures of mosquitoes eating me and I wanted a pretty picture.

When I was working for a daily newspaper near Milwaukee, they sent me to Croatia for a series of stories and I was warned that the mosquitoes there were terrible. In fact I was told to bring the closest thing I could find to 100% DEET. So I showed up in a field in Croatia after two and a half days on the literal Siberian railroad to look at something that must not have been memorable and I applied this DEET solution to my clothes and was promptly swarmed anyway. 

The mosquitoes currently in my garden are every bit as aggressive and voracious as those, although I believe the ones in Croatia may have been fueled by nukes, which probably gives them an edge in the battle of worst mosquitoes ever.

This is an-all natural mosquito repellent that you hook to your hose and spray with.
I tried this thanks to a recommendation on Instagram. I didn’t notice that it helped much.

So, long story short, mosquitoes are all anyone around here is talking about. Parents are watching soccer games from cars, football teams have brought in giant industrial fans to blow on the fields for games, stores can’t keep any kind of repellent in stock and gardening is pretty much impossible as no matter what kind of spray you apply they bit through clothes and buzz your ears. My mom has taken to donning a beekeepers jacket that is at least four sizes too big to go outdoors. (There is photographic evidence of this but I will not show it here as I value my life.)

Mosquito repellent for gardeners
This can goes with me everywhere. And I hate this stuff.

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It is especially frustrating because we’ve been enjoying lovely sunny weather and it’s difficult to even be outside, much less in the garden. In the past we’ve had very healthy bat populations at our house who would normally be swooping through the evening sky absolutely gorging themselves but sadly they’ve been hit hard here with the deadly white-nose syndrome

But there is an upside. All of my whining on Instagram prompted several messages from other besieged gardeners with suggestions for fighting these annoying buggers. Here’s some of the suggestions I’ve received:

I’ve tried a few of those and honestly haven’t noticed much difference. The hat is on order. Mostly I cover myself in Deep Woods OFF!, which I generally detest (even the smell makes me feel a little weird in the head) and try to keep moving. The other night I even wiped that stuff on my face out of sheer desperation. And I take a lot of showers to wash it all off when I come inside.

So please, share your best bug defense strategies with me. I’m all ears. I know this because those, too, have been bitten by the mosquitoes.

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21 Responses

  1. I know I’m late on this post, but this is my first year gardening. I keep seeing everyone on YouTube in their gardens and when I go out I get eaten by mosquitos! I felt like I was the only one!

  2. Ugh, I hate those buggers. Although I think we’ve had it worse with gnats this year. I have a terrible reaction to gnat bites and even ended up with a really awful one on my eyelid. We really like the Thermacell products to combat mosquitoes. It won’t be much longer before it gets to cold for them. Good luck!

  3. I have had my fair share of experience around mosquitoes so I can definitely relate. Unfortunately, I also don’t have any other suggestions aside from deet and veil. These two have always worked for me.

    Have a nice weekend!

  4. Today, thanks to the breeze. Mosquitoes are at bay. Was able to clean one of my flower beds and I’m not kidding I filled a large wheelbarrow with creeping Charlie! Nasty weed?. For mosquito repellent, I use Skin-So- Soft foe children “ cool and fabulous “. I figure, if it is save for children, should be safe for me. Normally wear long pants and long sleeve to save my skin from sun demage. The less wrinkles the better.
    Love your writing is fabulous and funny. Thank you for sharing and glad I found you.???

  5. It’s pretty breezy here today so I’m hoping for some productive time in the garden. For some reason the sprays and such I’ve used in the past have not been very effective this year.

  6. The only thing that will help is a hard frost. I can’t believe I am saying this….but I can’t wait! The flooding in our area has really brought out the mosquitoes. They are saying that this particular species is actually called “flood mosquitoes”. It is impossible to get in our house or car without at least 5 joining us. The garage is filled with them and they hang around doors waiting for their chance. Only a stiff wind seems to keep them at bay. They were terrible this past spring but I think now is even worse. I commented in the spring that I felt like Pigpen from Snoopy when I walked in our grass the way they swarmed me. Literally hundreds formed a cloud around me. This is the first year I remember them biting through my clothes, even heavy denim. They certainly take the enjoyment out of gardening.

    1. It does and I completely agree. Usually I’m all about extending the season as long as possible but if it makes these mosquitoes go away a bit of frost might be OK (but I have to pick the rest of the basil and get the plants indoors first!).

  7. We hire a company called Mosquito Joes here in Maryland. I will say we have an unusual situation behind our yard. Our builder closed off an ephemeral stream on our property and we now have 4 acres of woods with standing water of 2′ deep. Trees are dying and mosquitoes are terrible. However, in our yard we have not had any mosquitoes. If you drive to the other side of the swamp, you would not be able to get out of the car without a swarm of mosquitoes attacking you. The company comes out every three weeks to blast the yard. The county and the builder refuses our pleas for help. We are now working with the Army Corps of Engineers and hoping they can resolve this issue. Not sure if you have this type of service in your area, but it has worked well for us.

  8. Just got bulbs and a big box of plants which I want to put in this weekend after it dries out from yesterday’s rain. I am dressed heat to toe, also. a hat with a veil and I spray everything. Once I start sweating I am getting bitten right through my shirt. I’ve heard it is a record season for mosquitoes.

  9. Thanks for the caption- I kept looking at the flower thinking there must me a mosquito on it I was missing. No helpful suggestions- I too just stick to the backwoods off (the more deet the better except for the smell and, and, and, and). They’re bad here right now too- I got eaten alive mowing the other day, but perhaps not quite as bad as where you are. Good luck!!

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