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Organic Pest Control (especially termites and mosquitoes)

 
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
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I wasn't exactly sure where this topic would go, so I chose organics since it is mainly asking how to treat for pests "organically",

I live in a hot, humid area. We get 4 seasons, but summer is the most pronounced. Termites are a problem in my area, and I was wondering if there were anyways to help deter them other than not using wood in home construction. Right now my landlord has a contract with terminix to spray for them, but I wish there was another way. Does anyone know of any?

Mosquitoes are also abundant in my area, as there is much standing water for them to thrive in (man made lakes, natural lakes, river flood reliefs, and countless rice fields). What are everyone's best tricks to avoid being eaten by mosquitoes?

Mice can be a problem, but one that can be mitigated by keeping a tidy home, any other tips for rodent deterrence?

Anything to keep snakes off the porch?

Raccoon? I saw one that must have weighed 20 lbs on my porch the other night most likely looking for food cause a neighbor leaves catfood out for them.
 
Posts: 7002
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Hi, Will...good to see another Arkansan! Summer finally arrived, didn't it? You have lots of questions..I can share some experiences and I am sure others will also.
Termites...A dry foundation and keeping any wood eighteen inches above soil works wonders. Since you are renting you probably can't change the termite prevention your landlord is being sold. I think those services prey on folks fear. Look into a borate spray

Mosquitos....empty any thing that holds water around your house...even as small as a few tb unless you are changing it frequently or raising fish. Encourage bats, frogs, dragon flies...I sometimes use citranella oil on me to repel if we can't avoid them...it kind of works.

Mice...a cat:)

Snakes...what kind? it might eat the mice.

Raccoons...keep dog and cat food off of the porch...is your neighbor feeding it deliberately (big mistake!) or their own cat?

If you have raccoons wandering through you will probably have possoms and the occassional skunk and armadillo...Can you add a gated railing to the porch? even though most can climb that might be enough to discourage. Armadillos, I think are really easy to deter with even a pile of branches.
Will you be growing food there?
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
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I try to keep stagnant water to a minimum, but the towns stormwater runoff lake is about 15' from the house. The only snake I worry about is cottonmouths, most of the others around here are beneficial. Yes my neighbor feeds the coons intentionally, but we don't have armadillo problems in this part of the state.

And yes summer has sure gotten here. Do you use more shade than is recommended for most plants due to the heat?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1504
Location: northern California
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As counterintuitive as it seems, a healthy, permanent pond in your yard is an excellent strategy for mosquito control. While fish like mosquitofish and dragonfly larvae keep mosquito larvae eaten up (while the pond continually "baits" adult female mosquitoes to lay eggs there, to no avail), the pond breeds countless frogs, toads, dragonflies, damselflies, and so on, which then disperse into the surrounding landscape and eat adult mosquitoes, as well as termites and numerous other pest insects. If water seems to be staying in the ephemeral catchment nearby long enough to breed them, you could move, in secret if need be, some of your overflow population of mosquito fish. (They are native in your region anyway). A bad mosquito problem usually means that breeding is going on quite nearby, usually within a few hundred feet.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7002
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Will...When we first moved to Arkansas the land we had was in a hollow that only got sun from about ten am until two in the afternoon. Ever since I have always focused on having 'full sun' for my gardens but not any more. I don't use shade cloth but am planting more layers of things together and taking advantage of shadier places...think food forest:)
You mentioned rice fields and then standing water near by your house....that is going to be difficult to control mosquitoes in your space. I like Alder's idea of slipping some fish in the town runoff. I remember several times catching Amtrac in Newport in the middle of the night and the truck would be driving through the whole town spraying something. Are you anywhere near Southern Brown Rice? They are growing organically...I wonder what they do? I thought fish were part of rice growing some places. We have a really healthy bat population...Maybe you could check into a bat house or two in your yard (not attached to your house right outside the bedroom window as we did)...they love mosquitoes and other night flying insects.
We haven't had to worry about cottonmouths here on this mountain...copperheads wander through and on to our porch...our small beagle 'circles' them and won't stop barking until we show up. I haven't seen a rattle snake in years.
 
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Encouraging the presence of creatures that prey on mosquito is the best option, alongside making sure not let containers of standing water sit around outside your house. Do things to attract birds. Plant a few dense bushes on your property to provide nesting habitat for songbirds. If you don't have ducks or other waterfowl, but want them, they can help with this problem. If these bio-mechanical techniques don't work and you have a severe infestation, consider targeted use of the naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or BT-i. It's often sold as tablets or "donuts" you can place in water. Eliminate all standing water except one or two containers, and apply one or a few of these tablets to the container of water. This bacteria is highly targeted, mostly affecting mosquito, fungus gnat, and some larval stages of flies. The insect must consume the bacteria to be killed, and since it is in the standing water, i.e. prime nesting site for mosquitoes, the larvae will be exposed.  I wouldn't suggest putting this in ponds, etc. as it could disrupt the ecosystem there, despite this being a naturally occurring soil bacteria.
 
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