Friday, June 24, 2005

Mosquito Repellents and Deterrents

Word has it that this is the worst summer in a long time for mosquitoes. I guess I should say it's a very good year for mosquitoes and a bad year for humans and other warm-blooded mammals. It's also a good year for swallows and other flying insectivores, including dragonflies. "Dragonfly naiads consume mosquito larvae in the breeding waters, and adult dragonflies eat adult mosquitoes." (Wikipedia). Which brings me to the helpful part of this post:
[Updated version here]

Mosquito Deterrents: This is the best information I could find. I certainly haven't tested all of these recommendations so use your own judgement and feel free to let me know directly, or as a comment below, what your experience or knowledge is.

NOTE: It is generally agreed that for most reliable protection, (e.g. where West Nile Fever is a risk) the best product is DEET. Note that DEET can damage synthetic fabrics and there are questions about its effect on the human body. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents used on children contain no more than 10% DEET - and not at all on children under two months. Lotions can be applied more effectively than sprays. Don't use with sunscreen because DEET should not be re-applied. Wash off after use.

A. On/in your body:

  1. Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride 100 mg): 1 tablet a day.
  2. No bananas: They make your body odour more attractive to the little ladies (yes, remember it's the females that bite).
  3. Clothing: Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants
  4. Oil of eucalyptus: at 30% concentration prevents mosquito bites for about 2 hours (New England Journal of Medicine)
  5. Garlic juice: Mix 1 part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts. Lasts 5 - 6 hours (or as long as your friends can stand you).

B. In/around the home:

  1. A fan or gentle breeze: Mosquitoes don't like moving air
  2. Strips of cotton cloth dipped in garlic mixture (see above): and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.
  3. Sage or rosemary: on the barbecue coals
  4. Herbs (When the leaves are crushed): wormwood, lemon grass, lemon thyme, pelargonium and citronella.
  5. Mosquito nets: Not a common site in Canada but, properly used, are very effective and (in the long run) cheap.
  6. Bat houses and swallow nesting boxes: They have to eat a lot though as mosquitoes make up less than 3% of a swallow's diet and less than 1% for a bat. (Christian Back, medical entomologist)
  7. Standing water: Remove where possible, and change pets' dirinking water and birdbaths frequently.
  8. Incense and coils: only use coils outdoors (e.g. not in tents) and regular incense indoors.
  9. Shepherd's Purse: In the early spring, sprinkle the seed on water where mosquitoes breed. The mucilage of the seed will kill the larvae and greatly reduce mosquitoes in the area. One pound of seeds destroys ten million larvae, though it may cause a proliferation of shepherd s purse! (Dr Terry Willard, Wild Rose College of Natural Healing)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Terminator seeds infiltrating agriculture and forestry

This is somewhat technical but if you, or someone you know, needs more authoritative evidence and references than the average journalist provides, this should help:

Science for Peace Bulletin
May 2005 - Volume 25, Issue 2
Terminators Galore!
Joe Cummins
The author is Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario.

In Canada, the Seed Sector Review advisory committee issued a report calling for changes to legislation to
(A) collect royalties on farm-saved seeds,
(B) compel farmers to buy officially certified seed, and
(C) terminate the right of farmers to sell common seed.

The report was financed by the Agriculture Ministry at a cost of nearly a million dollars to the Canadian taxpayers but essentially rubber-stamped the demands of multinational agricultural corporations (1). The onerous licensing requirements of the biotechnology industry are to be extended to all seeds, imposing a form of serfdom on any remaining independent farmers. In the future it is likely that even home gardeners will face the loony corporate payments for those willing to spy on neighbors and report covert seed activity. We may be entering a time when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are required to raid grow operations such as a row of radishes in a backyard garden.

Read on

See also:

Muskwa-Kechika: The Wild Heart of Canada’s Northern Rockies

A new book on a relatively unknown part of our province:
The sounds of avalanches and of moose calling and feeding in the cool grey dawn, the soul-touching howl of a wolf pack, and the myriad tiny sounds of the wilderness have wakened me to greet the dawn from one end of the Muskwa-Kechika to the other.

........................... Photographer Wayne Sawchuk grew up in Chetwynd and worked as a logger before turning to the Northern Rockies as a guide and trapper where he fell in love with the beauty of the area. Sawchuk has been a full-time conservationist since 1993 and played an integral part in creating the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, along with George Smith, National Conservation Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
Read the author's review

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Fisher - Interior BC's animal?

Here's a good BC question: What is the provincial animal?

Answer: The swift fox

Today I learnt more about a creature that I think is a good candidate for the Interior BC animal: The Fisher.

I've just finished putting up a new page on the Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society's web site - a page all about the fisher. What gave it particularly good Interior BC credentials was the following:
Fisher have to work a lot harder to hunt and travel when snow is deep and soft. Fishers, when they travel in deep snow, use 54% more energy per day than on hard snow. This may be why there are few fishers in coastal BC where deep, wet snow is more common.
After you've learned about the Fisher, take a look at the rest of the CCCS site. It's one of my big favourites.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A slow drink of Crannóg's Ales

Now here's a great interior BC story. It even involves a move from the lower mainland to the interior. It's also about lifestyle and good food - good beer in fact. And, yes, I do think that this ale can be considered food. If you've ever wondered what's at the heart of "the slow food movement", here's an example:
A crannóg is a dwelling built on stilts over a bog or a wetland: found all over Ireland and Scotland, they housed animals and humans. The crannóg is a direct link both physically and philosophically to Brian MacIssac and Rebecca Kneen’s fabulous farmhouse micro-brewery. To say that Rebecca Kneen and Brian MacIsaac are purists is putting it mildly.

The name of their farm, Left Field, speaks volumes. These folks care about both the environment and the quality of their extraordinary brews. Brian speaks and teaches Gaelic, and as an artist his intricate knot work decorates the buildings and his labels. Even the couple’s bodies sport his tattooed designs.
"What about the beer", you say? Read on.