Bug Off!


With vacations cancelled and travel options limited this summer, many of us will be taking well-deserved “staycations” in our own backyards this summer. 

While we’re still adhering to social distancing guidelines, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks didn’t get the memo and are invading your personal space without a care. The uninvited guests at every gathering, they’re more than just unwelcome nuisances, but also a dangerous source of discomfort and disease. 

Biting mosquitoes spread West Nile and Zika in humans, while being the leading cause of heartworm in dogs. Ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans and pets. Fleas affect both dogs and cats, causing excessive itching and scratching, hair loss, tapeworms, and they have been known to spread typhus and plague to humans. 

The unusually warm winter and early spring have us seeing mosquitoes in our yards earlier than usual. Mild winters do not kill off ticks, and their numbers will likely be elevated this year, so we must stay vigilant in covering exposed skin when hiking or in tick-infested areas. It’s also important to thoroughly check ourselves, as well as our children and pets, for ticks after spending time outdoors. They can be as tiny as a period at the end of a sentence, so look closely. 

It’s often thought that fragrant flowering plants such as marigolds and lavender, and herbs like rosemary and basil offer some respite from relentless mosquitoes. Unfortunately, research has shown that the presence of these plants do not cut down on their activity. Even the citronella plant has no proven effect; in fact it’s not even where citronella of tiki torch fame comes from. The citronella plant is in the geranium family, whereas the citronella oil used for candles and repellents is derived from a different plant called Cymbopogon nardus, which is a type of grass.

There are steps we can take to reduce the presence of mosquitoes and other pests on our properties. Frequently draining bird baths and fountains and eliminating standing water clears breeding grounds where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Keeping gutters clean allows water to drain, rather than collect. Yard maintenance will also help keep pests in check. Mowing the lawn and cleaning up yard debris eliminates areas for pests to congregate as well.

However, to truly enjoy being outside and comfortable in your yard at all hours of the day, the best course of action is having your yard sprayed on a biweekly or monthly basis. Starting in May and continuing treatment through October is key in controlling the mosquito, tick and flea population. 

Tree Care of Long Island, a division of Goldberg & Rodler, offers comprehensive packages for homeowners and businesses. We use environmentally friendly botanical oils and targeted sprays to repel mosquitoes and other backyard pests. Give us a call today to schedule a free, full-property evaluation. We will assess your needs and offer you the safest and most efficient way to control pests, making your yard the relaxing escape you desire.


– Corinne Iasilli

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