Preparing for the 2020 mosquito season

Get your mosquito problem under control this year!

Happy New Year!  2020 is one of those years that always seemed so far off, and yet here we are, in the distant future.  2020 is the year of the rat and a leap year. The summer Olympics will be held from July 24th to August 9th in Tokyo.  The world population is expected to be 7,758,156,000.  Amazingly enough, of that population 6.1 billion will own a smart phone. This means that more people will own smartphones than have electricity.

As everyone gears up to start the new year off right, with resolutions and plans firmly fixed, we thought it would be a good idea to help you start the year off with mosquito management in mind.  It may seem like an odd month to be thinking about mosquito control, but changes you make now can have a big impact come spring. In Texas mosquitoes rarely hibernate. Temperatures need to be under 55 degrees for a week, or we need to have three deep freezes in a row for that to happen.  February brings a steady increase to the population, with a major population jump in March. What you do this month can have an impact on that population and make your spring and summer a little less itchy. So, while you are packing away the decorations, and perhaps doing some house sorting, come along with us as we guide you in some sorting outside as well.

Controlling Water in Your Yard

As we always say (and we can’t say it enough) water is your greatest enemy when it comes to controlling mosquitoes in your yard. As the leaves gather and pine needles fill the yard, it is easy to lose sight of areas in the yard holding water. It’s not just water in containers either but moist, dark soil, that will breed mosquitoes. Keeping up on the raking and leaf litter will have a big impact for you. Mosquitoes are not hibernating, so they are busy laying eggs in all those spots. If exercise is on your list of resolutions this year getting out and raking and clearing is a great way to get a workout, and the results truly will make your yard more pleasant come spring.

Once you have all the leaves and pine needles cleared, you can walk your property and spot any potential containers holding water. Plant pots, wheelbarrows, kids’ toys, tarps; anything that holds a teaspoon of water or more will be an issue. Tip over the pots, turn the wheelbarrow upside down and be sure to drain all the toys of water before you put them away. We have had customers with issues in their garage and discovered they put the kids’ toys away full of water, producing thousands of mosquitoes.

Gutters, Drains, and Down Spouts

Another important area to clean are your gutters. It’s easy to forget to look up and all those leaves and pine needles can cause huge issues. Pockets of water along with degrading leaves are a favorite for mosquitoes. If you have tire swings, be sure to drill a couple of holes in the bottom so water can drain out and do the same for your garbage cans as they can hold a lot of water if not closed tight before a rain.

Keeping up with your yard now will make a big difference in the spring. While we don’t clean gutters, Mosquito Joe will take care of all the standing water in your yard. So, if you want to start 2020 off with an itch-free aim, just give us a call. Happy New Year!

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Preparing for a Warm Thanksgiving

According to Accuweather, this Thanksgiving should be a sunny day with highs in high sixties.  Last year the high hit 75, and we can’t help thinking (at the time of writing) that high 60’s may be a little wishful thinking.  Historically we are wearing shorts this time of year and many of our customers enjoy their Thanksgiving meal outside. We know we do!

Perhaps the idea of BBQing a turkey is an odd one but it sure beats slaving over a hot oven.  Even better, get the games on outside and enjoy a day of relaxation, sun (we hope) and the more relaxed feel of a BBQ.

There are a TON of recipes online for grilling a turkey and many are specific to the type of grill you have. For example, if you have a charcoal kettle grill you can check out the Coupon Clipping Cook for a recipe.  A 19-pound turkey will take 4:45 to complete.  For a gas grill you can check out Epicurious where a 14-16 pound turkey takes about 2 hours.  If you have a large grill and a large family, you can consider grilling two turkeys.  One recipe we are really taken with is a BBQ Turkey with apples, and you can find it here.

Beyond the turkey there are a huge number of grilling options for sides.  From Grilled green beans and mashed grilled potatoes, to grilled apple crisp with toffee, if you have the space on your BBQ you can create an entire feast outside.  Even Martha Stewart has celebrated being in the South by opting for a Thanksgiving feast alfresco and you can check out her selection of sides (and the turkey) here.  Even if you don’t have the grill space for it, you can pre-prepare your sides early, and keep them warm them in the oven while you relax outside with the family. 

The takeaway for us is that Thanksgiving is what you make it.  If you prefer the solemnity of a formal meal or the traditions of a family gathering in the dining room we totally get it.  But if you are looking for something more relaxed, with football on the screen and kids running amok, a barbeque is a great option.  Setting up the TV outside, gathering up some chairs and even setting up a treasure (mini-pumpkin) hunt for the kids, is a great way to change things up and start new traditions.  Where better to celebrate Thanksgiving outside than Texas?

In our hunt for great recipes and ideas we landed on Southern Kitchen, who not only has a great article on outdoor Thanksgiving parties, but a ton of ideas for decorations, activities, drinks and food.  Check it out here for more inspiration

Options to consider, that may not leap to mind immediately, are creating separate areas in the yard for lots of activities.  Horseshoes is a simple option you can set up for adults and children alike (check out our blog post from July for DIY backyard games you can make easily).  Set up a craft area for the kids to decorate mini pumpkins with glue on eyes and sprinkles. The football zone goes without saying, but if you are lucky and have the space, consider a game of touch football to get folks out of their chairs and mingling.  Setting up a firepit to gather around when the sun goes down is a great way to keep the party going. Since the clocks have changed, consider outdoor lighting – string lights are simple and inexpensive and can make any backyard beautiful. Finally, don’t forget to call Mosquito Joe so you can enjoy the day without mosquitoes and bugs ruining the fun.  This is Texas after all, and mosquitoes are the one thing we are not thankful for this time of year.

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Preparing for Fall 2019

It’s that time again.  Here at Mosquito Joe, we all get excited about fall.  We don’t know about you, but we start visualizing crisp mornings, wrapping ourselves in scarves, drinking hot apple cider and pumpkin everything.  And then of course, we remember we are in Texas and come back down to earth.

AccuWeather is predicting average high’s in the high 80’s this October, with the potential for some early morning lows in the mid to upper 50’s.  Not quite the maker of crisp fall days. While other Mosquito Joe’s in the north are preparing to close down for the year, here we are starting to add new customers as folks get excited about being outside without melting.

So, what do you need to know about mosquitoes in the fall in Texas?  Most importantly, they don’t care about the temperatures. The fact is, mosquitoes only start hibernating when the temperatures remain under 55 degrees for a full week or we have three deep freezes in a row.  When that happens, mosquitoes won’t be an issue. Until, of course, the temperatures go over that 55-degree mark.

In the five years that we have been in operation we have only had one week where these guidelines have been met.  When it happened, we reached out to our customers and let them know they didn’t need us. Of course, this is Texas, and a week later we were back in the 70’s.

The point here is, while our focus may be on preparing our little monsters for trick and treating, we shouldn’t lose our focus on the real monsters in our yard.  So we want to share some tips and reminders for you on what to do outside to manage that mosquito population.
Falling leaves provide an excellent home for mosquitoes and are a favorite for egg laying.  The ground beneath the leaves is dark and damp and will hold water after a rain. The same can be true for large amounts of pine needles.  Keeping your yard tidy and keeping up with the falling leaves will have a substantial impact on your mosquito population. Rake everything regularly, and then dispose of the piles.

A second sneaky spot to be cautious about are Halloween decorations. From carved pumpkins (which honestly mold incredibly fast so we don’t see those often) and plastic décor, all our decorations can hold water and water is the main source of mosquitoes. We are not suggesting you don’t decorate but be mindful after a rain to check all those over and dump any water you find.

Mosquito Joe manages the water in your yard as well as the mosquitoes, treating both for the adult population and the eggs, larvae and pupae.  A big part of this management involves our customers maintaining a tidy yard and reducing the potential for water accumulation. So if you are looking forward getting outside this month, or if you are planning on having a Halloween party in your backyard, give us a call first!  Mosquitoes are the one blood sucker you don’t want at your Halloween party.

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6 Backyard DIY games

While our main focus at Mosquito Joe is making your outside fun again, the whole purpose is so that families can get outside and enjoy it!  We thought it would be fun to offer some great DIY options for backyard games, so you and your family can spend some time together enjoying your mosquito free yard.  Let’s start with some true Southern options.

Texas Horseshoes/Washers:

Also known as Redneck Horseshoes, this game started in Texas in the oil boom of the early 1900’s.  While a game of horseshoes involves tossing irons to wrap it around a stake, the Texan option has players throwing a 2.5” circular washer towards a board or to a hole in the ground.   This is a very easy DIY, requiring only two 4.5” sections of PVC driven into the ground, and a collection of washers. For more info just click here.

Cornhole:

This one requires a bit more work in the DIY department, although the resulting board will be with you for years.  Rather than reinventing the wheel, this post from A Wonderful Thought breaks it down perfectly, including detailed instructions and some great design ideas for you finished product.  

Beanbag toss:

Maybe you are not up for the construction of a cornhole board. You can take those beanbags and instead set up a game of beanbag toss.  All that’s required here is a bunch of paper plates, with points written on each. You can start with your closest plate at 10 points, and go all the way up to whatever you chose.  The game simply requires the player to land on a plate and they are awarded the points from that plate.

Backyard Yahtzee:

Great fun for kids, this just requires some cubes of wood and a permanent marker to make the dice. If you want to get a little more fancy, check out this post by Momstastic who burns the dots into herwood (which she gets at Michaels, pre-cut!).  

Bowling:

If you are up for some bowling, a great idea mentioned on several sites is to use some old water bottles, or soda bottles, as pins and throw a tennis ball into the mix instead of a bowling ball.  You can paint the bottles to look more like pins and feel good that you are recycling.

Backyard projector:

Often considered an expensive option, we’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to be.  Small projectors don’t run that much these days and can run off your laptop or phone to play a movie.  For the screen, you can use PVC pipe as a frame and attach projector screen material around it (you can buy the material by the yard as a fabric) or a white sheet if you want to go the most inexpensive route.  Another option is to hang the material as a curtain, weighted inside the bottom seam (we used chain) and with a magnetic strip in the side seam. When the curtains are closed the magnets seal the join, and the weights prevent movement and hey presto – your curtains become the screen.  We don’t have a link for this one as we did this one ourselves!

For a myriad of other ideas, you can check out this great article from DIYncrafts.

Whatever games you pick, please just remember two important things:

  1. Clean up your yard afterwards, and make sure all containers are turned upside down so they can’t collect water and make a home for mosquitoes.
  2. Have fun and enjoy that yard!
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Summer Fun

The heat of summer is upon us and summer vacations are in full force. We have all experienced that head-scratching moment as parents when we want to do something fun with the kids, but we need a little inspiration. This month Mosquito Joe has rounded up some fun things to do around the area in the hopes that you might find something appealing for your whole family. We also try and keep a good balance of outside fun and some ways to escape the sun while keeping everyone entertained.

Mosquito Control - Montgomery, TX - Mosquito Spraying for BackyardStarting off our tour in Conroe, we found this great blog full of ideas. From fishing and boating at Lake Conroe to camping in the Sam Houston National Forest and blueberry picking, there are some great ideas for day trips to keep your little ones (and maybe the adults) happy. We also want to give a shout out to the Wolfdog Project in Montgomery where Mosquito Joe keeps the wolves happy and bite free! They are always looking for volunteers and welcome visitors to meet the wolves.  You can also visit on a Saturday and help the volunteers there take them out for a walk.

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Heading south to Tomball, you can take the kids for a stroll down Main Street and stop in for some award-winning Texas craft BBQ, homemade desserts and ice cream. Visit theTomball historic railroad Depot and see the “0” scale T&W Model Railway and others, as well as visit all the delightful quaint stores along the way. There is something for everyone in Tomball and plenty of ways to spend the day.

Brenham never disappoints and is chock full of activities for old and young alike. The Texas Cotton Gin Museum is open from 10- 4 Tuesday through Saturday and offers tours from 10-2. You cannot miss the summer grape stomps at the Pleasant Hill Winery and the Windy Winery. Running the last two weekends, and every weekend in July respectively, it’s great fun for kids of all ages.  July is full of farmers’ markets, antique carousel rides, and concerts in the park. You can see all the events planned for Brenham here.

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With no less than 6 museums in Bryan/College Station, you have plenty of options for some out-of-the-sun activities.  Including the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Museum of the American GI, and the Brazos Valley Museum of National History, you can visit all kinds of exhibits. Grand Station Entertainment offers bowling, mini-golf and laser tag while the Spirit Ice Arena gives you the opportunity to really cool down with some ice-skating. If you want to get outside, consider and visit to the Kingsbury Blueberry Farm or Royalty Pecan Farm and make sure to bring your own basket or bucket. There are also plenty of outdoor concerts in Bryan, and for the Dad’s out there, don’t miss the 3rd annual Craft Beer Festival this month!Best Mosquito Control in Brenham - Mosquito Control Near Me - TX

If you are looking to head further afield how about watching the bats take off a dusk in Austin, or visit Sometimes Islands. You can visit this list of fun things to do in the State in July. However you chose to spend the month, we hope you create some wonderful summer memories for you and your family!

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