[Update June 2013 -- See the last section, "I Did It," for an excellent fix on capturing flies on your hat.]
Living in the woods comes with a plague of black flies and mosquitos. If they are too thick, they can make your summer season a living hell, especially when you are fully dependent on growing and hunting your foods.
One solution that may work is the electrical zapper (it worked for me), the smaller models using less than 100 watts. If you have solar panels in the trib, you might have enough power to use a zapper or two, especially as mosquito season is also the time that the sun is high, powerful, and abundant. I tried experimenting with one, and found that only a fraction of the bugs electrified by the units were mosquitos. It did many moths, beetles, and virtually anything that flies about at night...that might also be feeding on your garden plants.
But I was shocked to find this past summer, as I was staying in my trailer in a mosquito-infested region, that few mosquitos would land on the windows when the lights were on inside. My heart just sank, indicating that the zappers might not work as well as I thought. I had purchased property in a high-mosquito zone depending on the zappers to work. I removed the "fur" from the zapper one morning to check what sort of bugs had been attracted (bugs accumulate on the electrifying grid like a fur). To my amazement, there were few large mosquitos, but plenty of young ones, though I could not always make out what the young flies were. Some were not mosquitos, and others looked like them though maybe not.
Zappers have an ultra-violet fluorescent bulb, unlike the lights in the trailer. The immediate problem is that the zapper's bulb does it's job well: it attracts bugs. Yes, attraction is a problem because, at first, you're going to have more bugs near your home than you would otherwise. You'll be hoping for a pay-off in the longer term, and perhaps the bulb will attract the bugs away from the garden before they know there's food there.
It's a roulette table if ever I saw one. Some say the zappers just don't work, for mosquitos, anyway. What I think I have resolved correctly is that many mosquitos come near the light, but don't go for it. They might hang around on a blade of grass, a tree trunk, maybe even the electrical cord of the unit. That gave me an idea: the fogging chemical that I haven't yet tried. I've seen the package, and the person applying the spray isn't wearing a mask. I like that very much. But does this chemical kill mosquitos, or just keep them away?
Well when I was out buying another zapper once, I met someone in the mosquito-war isle of the department store, and he just happened to be purchasing some of the fogging chemical. He said that it needs to be applied repeatedly. After this I learned that it's great for a yard party, as it's safe for the kids, but won't last long after the party. For a large tract of land as I hope to have in the tribulation, this was not good news at all...accept for one thing: what if one used the fogging chemical just for a 20-foot radius around an electrical zapper? Einstein, eat your heart out. But, I don't know whether the fogger kills mosquitos.
Zappers come in larger models that can attract for long distances, and I figure that 99 percent of the attracted bugs will come to within a 20-foot radius of the bulb. Spraying a 40-foot circle every couple of weeks is do-able, very do-able. I haven't experimented yet, but thought I'd pass this electrifying idea on anyway.
When I had a place in the sunny south, the house was painted off-white. Bugs of all varieties were attracted to those white walls. Many would just stay in one spot for hours, as if staring at the flood lights near the roof. Others were flying about constantly. The light would shine on the flying bugs in such a bright way that you could see their flight patterns; they all gave a spectacular show that I had never seen before.
At the time I had four chickens and two ducks with clipped wings. They would feast on those bugs all night long. They would pick them off the wall as they could see them well. So, paint the walls of your chicken coop a light color, and leave a light bulb on for a few hours whenever you think it best to feed them "meat."
I have no idea what bug dinners each night might do to your eggs, so perhaps you should check with a chicken expert if you decide to do this dastardly thing. Bugs for dinner could increase the nitrogen content of the chicken droppings -- a good thing for the garden soil -- and every bug in your chicken's stomach is one less bug that might land on your garden plants.
Unfortunately, chickens like the big juicy bugs, not skinny mosquitos (you should have seen those hens turn into wolves whenever a large moth flew into view). But I haven't gotten to my point yet. What if you use a bug zapper near a light-colored wall or shed, and spray the shed with mosquito killer? What if you have a tank filled with carbon dioxide inside the shed, slowly releasing the harmless chemical that mosquitos are attracted to? Let the carbon dioxide escape through a window screen or two, and fog the window screens, for that is surely where the mosquitos should accumulate.
At my place down south, where night bugs are incredibly heavy, like a carpet on the outer walls at times, I thought to attract the bugs from as far around as possible by the flood lights. Then, after turning all lights out at bedtime, I would leave the zapper on all night. The mosquitos outside you can live with while you're sleeping, but there are night crawlers you never know about that feast on garden leaves. 1) Attract them to the general vicinity of the zapper with a floodlight; 2) place the flood light in a large screened box with poison on the screens; 3) locate the zapper near the box and further yet from the garden; 4) point the direction of the floodlight from night to night in different directions. It's worth a try.
There is the question of whether it's a good or bad thing to kill bugs large-scale indiscriminately. I figure that when a garden is as important as it will be in the trib, the place would be better off wholly bug-less. It might keep the birds further away too, which can be a problem in some case for the garden.
Problem is, daytime insects sleep while the murder of night-time bugs goes on. And daytime insects also like garden plants. The nasty black fly is the hell you don't want while tending to the garden. If it's a rainy year, you'll appreciate not watering the garden much, but the black flies die only in the dry summer heat. Heat with rain won't kill them off.
I sat on my lawn chair one mid-day when black flies and mosquitos were thick. I was armed defensively with a hooded mosquito-net shirt, covering all my head and face as well, a nasty thing to work in when it's hot. The mosquito-net shirt had to be ticked into my pants to keep black flies out, as they find any hole possible. They know no danger or fear of death at the swatting hands of their victims. If you swat and miss, or even if you hit them in mid-flight, they are right back at you with more glee than before. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt because mosquitos could sometimes reach through the net material to my arms, but I like to work hard and it gets too hot. Really, it is a dire problem.
Offensively, I had a fly swatter, a grin, and some soft-cottony white mittens as I sat on the chair. The only thing I didn't have was the war trumpet. Yes, I wore gloves to work in the summer lest my hands be sucked dry of blood. But on this day the mittens turned into an offensive weapon. Black flies were all over my pants, and I learned that if one drops a finger on them at just the right speed, without alarming them, they would just stay put, or continue walking along, as the finger squashed-rolled them to death. I couldn't believe it. Seven times out of ten, the black flies just let me press them to death, though I would tend to roll them a bit on the jean material to make death more certain. At first, I could do one fly just about every second. They were also on the mittens, looking for a "hole" in the cloth large enough to reach the skin, and I would just press them there too. It's very delightful to get vengeance.
After about an hour, I had eliminated most of the black flies, and many dozen mosquitos. The latter would not let me get my finger close before flying away, so it was the lightning-quick swatter for them. My jeans were a massacre zone, covered with the blood of war. These pests were making my life hell as I worked outdoors every day. I don't think it was the small lake that juts to the property, but the rock-filled ravine passing through the property to the lake, for I've read that black flies lay eggs on rocks in streams.
I did not build on this property with lake and ravine. Instead, I purchased another property, much larger with thick trees, and next to a marsh zone. This is where I was hoping that the zappers would relieve the environment of mosquitoes. I was walking along last year on this other property I'm writing from, when in a small stream I saw blackish larvae floating about in clod after clod. I thought they were mosquitos until I read an article telling that black flies can only be born in flowing water (unlike mosquitos requiring still waters). The article said that black-fly eggs become attached to rocks or other things in the stream. If this can be verified, lets try to clear our stream(s) of rocks and branches that jut out into the air.
I figured that the flies on me at that lawn-chair battle were all the flies that existed in a larger circle around me, for as far as they could see my movements. I wondered what the war would have been like if several people were working around the house...and that's when I realized a very good thing. With several people killing flies every day or two for a few days, flies would quickly thin out. Every fly killed today is one or more generation that will not live tomorrow. Who knows how many generations any particular fly will be responsible for? If the fly population is reduced drastically in one year, the next year will be much better. You may think that God made people as food for biting flies. We shouldn't be so pessimistic. Maybe he made people to reduce the gnat population...since deer and other creatures with merely their tail swats are defenseless.
Some flies, and I think mosquitos fit this category, are local i.e. they don't fly far. Ever notice how young mosquitos just swarm in circles at one spot? They tend not to fly about on windy days, and they live in the lower parts of the landscape, in the cool grass. So, here's my plan for the trib. I'm going to take every man, woman and child I've got, and arm them early in the fly season with fly swatters. The dollar store swatters last a long time, and I've already got nearly ten of them. You should have these on your trib list.
I'm going to separate my warriors by a hundred feet, all around the house. They will be instructed to walk about their part of the forest slowly, to attract as many flies as possible, and at the peek time they are to sit down in their lawn chairs for merciless battle. If this is done for an hour or two every day or two for a few days, I think the situation will become enormously improved for the entire season, with benefits into the coming years. The strategy can be repeated once two or every three weeks, if needed.
After my lawn-chair battle of that delightful day, I found another method that was very promising. I would walk slowly to a tent not used for sleeping in, then enter it slowly, so that hovering black flies and mosquitos would follow me in. Then I'd wave my hands and make chaos with the tent door mainly closed. As the bugs were in a frenzy, I stepped out the door and left most of them inside to dehydrate. On hot days, black flies were dead in a few hours, otherwise, on cooler days, they'd make it to the next day but no more.
One idea is to build a small tall shed (for this purpose, 4-feet square may be sufficient) at the garden site (shed can be used for garden equipment, anyway, so larger may be better) with a clear-plastic roof, because flies in an enclosed space fly upward as well as for the light. Make a door that seals them in, and when the flies are thick, walk into your shed, and do what you must.
Mosquitos were different. One day I closed a window so as to trap a half dozen mosquitos between the glass and the screen. It did not rain for the next six days, but all the mosquitos in that "trap," so skinny to begin with, without food or water lived into the sixth day. I was amazed and realized why dry climate doesn't seem to destroy their populations; as soon as it rains, out they come from under the underbrush. Black flies, however, are dead and gone as soon as the summer heat arrives, if there is normal or little precipitation.
At times, black flies would be in the trailer in the evening after dark, even though they are a daytime fly. I figured that they came in just before dark, at twilight. They liked to fly around the light bulbs. So, here's a thought for your experimentation: have a light in a tent at dusk, with the door open, and see if black flies stream inside to the bulb. If so, close the tent after black flies no longer stream in, and let them RIP there the next day.
Deer fly are an incredible nuisance, day after day. They will swarm around your hair without stop so long as it's not too hot out; on a hot sunny day, they will swarm around the head for a few minutes and then give up. But heat does not kill them off, though for some reason they are gone by late summer, perhaps due to cold nights. They bite and suck or lap up blood, but they take a long time to get to it. They'll bounce off your hair many times before they feel its safe to land. They seem to enjoy it like a ritual, like working up to the climax. In the meantime, you can't be happy no matter how beautiful the summer day is. At times they'll burrow into the hair without you realizing, and drink from the scalp. No matter, it's a delight to squish them there when the pain alerts you of one. I have built up such a passionate hatred for them that I'm sadistic about killing them. It feels so good. I dig into my hair with three fingers and pull them out while squashing, and flick them to the ground in disgust. They make a lovely little pop when they are squashed enough. Serves them right. You don't know what it's like until they've driven you insane. The only good news is that they are smaller than horse flies, but they hang around in packs of dozens whereas horse flies seem to be loners. I have few horse flies, anyway, not a problem at all.
I read an article by someone trying to figure out a way to catch the deer flies. He realized that they hang out along his driveway, and the same applies at my place. They like trees (i.e. shade) at an opening such as a field. The trees along my driveway are one of their favorite havens (anything that can go wrong will go wrong), and they love it best when I'm going down to the road with a garbage bag in each hand, unable to swat them. I can tell by the sound of their wings that they love it when I'm upset at them. They've waited patiently so long on the trees for a deer to go by, so this is their moment, even though I'm only a sop with garbage bags.
He figured out that placing a bucket over the side mirror of his vehicle, covering the bucket with a sticky material, and driving up and down the driveway, caught quite a few deer flies. He found that they liked a blue bucket best. I was getting so desperate that I considered a blue vase on my head with sticky material. All I had was honey, and I realized that wasn't going to work. Besides, I didn't want the flies to win this war to the point that I would walk around with a plastic vase upside-down on my head, held there by a string around by throat. I didn't want the flies to think this was a birthday party.
I noted many times that when I drove in, they would follow the vehicle up the driveway, and they especially liked the side-view mirrors. I also noted that if the doors of the vehicle were open, many would fly inside. I used to get quite a few that way, but only if all windows would be closed, letting the hot sun dehydrate them. They don't last long in a hot vehicle. But this was not the best solution. I got smarter and stopped the vehicle near the road before pulling out, opened the window beside me, and watched them stream in, about 20 of them, maybe more. Then when the others wouldn't come in, the window was rolled up, and I'd give them all a lift toward town a couple of miles before rolling down the windows to give my problem to the people there. I realize it sounds selfish, but a man driven mad will do such things. I even did it again when I got home, eradicating at least 40 flies in one afternoon.
I had noticed earlier that, when I walk into the house, some would follow me in, but others refused to come in. It may be a female-male thing. And I'm not so sure about that rumor going around that only the females bite for the purpose of their eggs. Where are all the male mosquitoes if only the females bite? When was the last time you saw a male mosquito on your skin that didn't try to tunnel into it? I've never seen one.
For days prior to the day when the deer flies were driven down the road, when in the garden or front yard, I'd walk toward the house with flies like buzzards around my head, and they had no idea what they were being led to. Unfortunately, the closer I got to the house, the fewer the flies, as though they were side-tracked by the building. Actually, I noticed that there were many flies while at the shoulder of the road while putting out the garbage, but upon walked back toward home, the flies were substantially reduced just 100 feet in. It may be that they have a territorial zone that they feel comfortable in, and won't go far from that zone.
The same bad luck took place when walking toward the vehicle in hopes of seducing them into it. Almost all of them would rather start to bounce off of, or skim along, the vehicle than swarm around my head and come into the vehicle with me. And again, some would enter into an open door, but others refused to go into the vehicle.
As I approached the door of the house, there were noticeably fewer flies by far. As I got near the open door, some would zoom into the house even before I got to the door, and more would follow me into the house as I walked in. They went immediately for the white ceilings. It's a riddle as to why some are drawn into the house like a magnet, while others remain in flight at the door area outside, then fly off when I was no longer out. As many as 15 had come in at first, then fewer with each succeeding repeat. I did this about a half dozen times in a half hour, as a test more or less, to get better acquainted with me "friends."
But in the house, with the door closed, I enjoyed the slaughter immensely when, after a few minutes of toying with the ceilings, the flies would all end up at a window on the sun/south side of the house. I had a fly swatter at the south window prepared. It was easy pickings there on the window with the swatter in hand. Each hard cold murder was a satisfaction. There was no mercy, just like they gave me no mercy. If the first swat didn't do the trick, the second was the most delightful. You'll know it when it happens to you.
I went out one morning to the vehicle. I noted the deer fly bouncing off the vehicle, only much slower than in mid-day or evening, It occurred to me to get the fly swatter. That evening, I did it again. Walking first down the driveway, then back to the vehicle with swatter in hand, I was killing them by the dozens. My neighbor must have been wondering what the smacking noises were, one after the other. Then I took a trip to the garden, and brought dozens more to the vehicle, and yet a third trip around the front yard, at which time it was dusk, so I called it a day. The next day I went to the front yard, and there was one, maybe two deer flies on me. A second trip later in the day only brought two of them. This was amazing. I walked to the house, and two entered with me, taken care of at the front window. I walked out a third time that evening (I was working in the house), and there were hardly any flies. I had won the battle.
Up to the third night, there were far fewer flies, meaning that eradicating 200 over a period of a few days is a big deal for getting some relief. After about a week, the flies still not been back to normal population, about six or seven on me at a time down by the garden.
They like it when I bend over, at which time they land on my chest, which is then acting like the underside of a deer. I can often get them while they land on my chest or belly at those times. If there are only six flies on me at those times, it's worth bending over for a few seconds to get one or two of them. If I'm hasty as they first land, and I miss them with a crushing blow of the hand., they are less likely to land again, so the best thing to do is wait until they are starting to dig into the skin and in a fever for blood, at which time they are less likely to fly away during the fatal swat. You'll get a small pinch, but it's worth it.
In 2012, there was a drought in my area starting in early June, and lasting to then end of July. There were only two rains in that period, with minor amounts of rainfall, not enough to create pools on the ground. The black flies were completely gone very soon, and mosquitoes were drastically reduced in July. But deer flies seemed to suffer no reduction of their numbers.
On about July 23, I walked into the bush and to the beaver dam that creates the marsh. That's where I expected mosquitoes to be surviving the most. After the beaver dam, the ground is thick with tall grass and wet ground for a very large area in the hundreds of feet. There was not one mosquito in that bush on that day. In comparison to the summer of 2008, when there was much rain, it was drastic. It was unbearable in the woods that year, even in September. The following two years were mosquito-ridden. It has me wondering whether we should pray for rain, or drought, in the tribulation. I also noted that the drought had removed every ant from visibility. All other insects had been reduced in numbers. I was amazed to see how well the wild raspberries (they almost all have no fruit) survived healthy in such little rainfall.
On about July 25, I was chopping wood from the woodpile (I love that work, excellent for your health), and as I removed wood from the pile, mosquitos came out at me. They were hunkered down in the shade of the wood, perhaps enjoying as best as was possible the humidity inside the wood. But I know this, that as I walked along in the bush, no mosquitos came out, meaning that there were no mosquitoes in the forest floor. Therefore, your wood pile will be your mosquito center, and one of the last places in which they can survive the summer heat. What to do about it? Keep a tarp over the wood all summer long. It will also keep the ants, centipedes, and other things from living in the bark, and from living in your house when you bring the wood in. Try to have the wood pile in the sun, of course. Where rain water is prone to get under the tarp along the ground, the tarp can be removed in sunny periods, which is good also to accelerate the drying of the wood if needed.
It started to rain while chopping wood that very day, and in the evening the outside door was left open after dark; after closing it, I found myself attacked by mosquito after mosquito, one after the other to the count of about 20. I know the number because they were all squashed before I went to bed. It took about an hour for every one to find me, at the desk with the only light on. They were probably from the wood pile about 20 feet from the open door. Lessen learned. These few can become many hundreds/thousands next year. Keep the wood pile dry, unless of course there's a wet year and mosquitoes are everywhere anyway. If we use a clear plastic sheet, and the wood is in the sun, it will get too hot in there for the mosquitoes, and it'll dry the wood better. Plastic sheet of 6-mil thickness has lasted as window covering on my unfinished house for three years and counting, even on the sunny-south side of the house. If you store this material for trib purposes, I wouldn't suggest any thinner than 6-mil.
It's rolling thunder as I write on July 31, and the drought promises to be over as there is about an inch of rain in the forecast for the next few days. The next generation of mosquitoes should be a small one. I wonder how God has given their eggs the ability to survive droughts. Can they lay viable eggs in dry spots rather than in pools of water? Is the beaver pond beside my place, filled with frogs, capable of growing mosquitoes? The good thing for testing this situation further is that the ground is nearly bone dry to deep depths, and the two rains expected for this week are four days apart and each too little to create pools of water on their own. By the time of the second rain, all the rain from the first will be soaked in. This is my prayers come true on the mosquito front. And as this drought covers a vast area of North America, is it indication that the Time almost here?
It's now the morning after that first rain. I walked out to get my second red tomato, and even walked down the driveway. There was not one mosquito sound in my ear, and only a few deer flies, very tolerable. To not have mosquitoes in the first week of August is extremely rare. Plus, in the next days, after 7 to 10 days from the time of removing all the dear flies, I could walk to the garden or the front yard with only one or two at a time, and even be out there 5 minutes before one found me.
Days later, after the second rain during the hot night, there was only one deer fly on me the entire 15 minutes spent out front, and NOT ONE mosquito even though everything was wet, cool and overcast. They are just not there in other words. I wonder how long the very few survivors of mosquitoes will take before coming back to full force.
I'm not sure what caused this turn of events with deer flies, whether dear flies naturally die off at this time without new generations, or whether the draught made new generations impossible, or whether there were so few around that they all decided to go where the bigger action was, to the neighbors who were not bothering to remove theirs. If dear flies are territorial, it seems to pay well to remove them early in the year.
I haven't yet tried hanging the traditional coiled sticky fly strips in the trees to see whether they catch any. That might be the best solution yet. But a test will need to wait till next year because I'm all but out of dear flies at the moment. By the way, the same principal applies to weeds: pull one weed, and you're pulling a hundred or more seeds.
A few days after a big 2" rain in the second week of August, the deer fly had all but disappeared (not because of the rain, of course). And mosquitoes had not come out because they were not there in the grass. It was great to be able to cut and handle trees, shirt-less into the deep evening, on the one side of the house, without any flies bothering me. It is also great to be able to leave a door open (as it is now at 6 am) to the outside from dawn onwards with usually no mosquitoes coming in (just two seen this morning, likely because I've disturbed the piles of brush beside the house). A low density of mosquitoes had survived the drought, and would come out at dusk while I worked the trees, which is why I was also out there covering (with dirt) or burying/burning the piles of branches that I was hoping to use as mulch in the garden; they take a few years to rot good enough to use as a mulch or soil additive, but I can plow them into the garden dirt instead. I use a mini-excavator to plow and work the dirt, and of course to dig the frog ponds
After the rain, the frog ponds had all filled up again nearly to the brim, and the frogs were thick, but small, in every pond. This species doesn't croak day or night, and they tend to stay in the water during days, or beside the water, rather than under my shoes in the garden. I don't know how they enjoy life just sitting there motionless, but I'm grateful. Perhaps they hunt at night. For my situation, because the garden is in a high water table, the water will be in the ponds for a while even without rain, a good source for watering the garden using a hand bucket. I'm hoping that mosquitos smell the ponds and lay their eggs in them, only to be gobbled up by frogs, but, oh-oh: "Fish and tadpoles eat mosquito larvae, and frogs eat adult mosquitoes and anything else that they can swallow." Does that mean frogs won't take the larvae? Perhaps frogs don't like to open their mouths in the water.
[Mosquitos] don't travel much, typically not more than a mile from the place where they were hatched, and their sole purpose seems to be laying more eggs to make more mosquitoes. A female can produce up to 500 eggs before she finally dies.
...However, some species will lay mosquito eggs on moist, often-flooded soil in anticipation of the next rise in water. Those eggs can survive winter, waiting for spring or summer rains to cover them over.
...Eggs left on moist soil can last for up to a year, until the ground is flooded again, before hatching.
Drats, it doesn't tell how long eggs laid in grass can last before drying into non-viability in dry soil. But it does explain why mosquitoes return the following year even if there is dry whether in the last two months of mosquito season. Hopefully, it's just a bad, wrong rumor going around that mosquito eggs can lie dormant for years in dry weather. The article above tells that birds and fish eat the larvae while they're developing in water, but no mention of frogs.
The webpage below tells that a few drops of cooking oil or dish detergent per square meter of water surface will drown the mosquito larvae (because they can't break through the surface film to breath, and flies landing on the water can't stand on it because the dish soap removes water tension). This idea is for your rain barrels or livestock drinking supply. The article presents other ideas too.
Mosquito dunks (environmentally-friendly) are about one dollar per dunk (depending on where you get them) reportedly each controlling 100 square feet of water surface (regardless of depth) for 30 days. For my seven ponds, I'd be paying about $15 annually. Not all products at the website below may be as wonderfully affective as the spiels may suggest.
But mosquitoes are not the biggest fly threat to trib survivors needing to spend much time in the garden, as mosquitoes are active mainly from dusk to dawn. Black flies start coming out when garden soil is ready for transplanting from vases. Black flies may be gone in typical years within a month of appearing, but deer flies linger into the summer, until the time comes for re-planting, pulling weeds, watering, and other garden maintenance. There is joy in walking out to the garden every morning to see how your babies are developing, but deer flies are there to rob you of that joy.
Fly bites are nasty in the beginning, but the body learns to accept and adapt until bites are no longer as itchy or painful. Still, the bigger plague is the swarming around your head. The more heavily your area is infested with biting flies, the more attractive it is for you to purchase your trib food ahead of time, and rely less on garden produce. While fruit flies in your food-storage room may not bite you, they will bite your food (and be sucked up your nostrils).
Ah, whew: "If you're not interested in having fish [in your pond to eat mosquito larvae], consider tadpoles. Tadpoles not only eat mosquito larvae, but they grow up to become toads or frogs, which will eat mosquitoes. One toad can consume about a hundred mosquitoes a night. " That's what I wanted to hear. Now I may not need to re-fill the holes acting as ponds, but then we'll need to wait and see how long frogs take to get tadpoles in the water first thing in the spring.
Alas, after writing that, I went out to the ponds to find them inhabited by mosquito larvae. I even checked the two rain-water containers, and they were inhabited. I might explain the ponds wholly on eggs laid before and during the drought, but the rain containers were filled from the roof pipe in that 2" rain not many days ago. There is virtually nothing else but mosquito larvae for the frogs to eat. There are roughly 20 frogs in each pond at any given time, and many more roaming the soils.
I tried olive oil in one rain-water container, but it just pooled together in droplets, leaving "vast" openings for the larvae to stick their tails out to breath. So, olive oil does not work. But wait, the article that says it will work suggested oil from a spray bottle, which may cause the oil to spread out. But even if it does work, forget it; use the dish soap, as you need oil to eat, and besides oil will gunk up the water containers. If you need to drink the water, use just one container for that purpose and seal it from mosquito entry.
In the other container, as it was opened, dozens of larvae, and one wolf spider standing on the water that must have slipped in under the lid. A squirt of dish soup was dropped in; I could see the film spreading out, and seconds later the spider had broken through the surface tension, and could not get back up. It sank to the bottom. The dish soap worked. Soap on the water may prevent more mosquitoes from laying eggs, drowning them as they land.
It should mean that new mosquitos won't be able to stand on the water to dry their wings to fly, and will drown as they deserve. The soap looks to be less expensive than the mosquito dunks if the water surface holds the soap for extended periods. But soap dissolves throughout the water volume, while the makers of the dunks claim that their material remains on the surface. After more experimenting, by dropping dish soap into the frog ponds every few days for over a week, I panicked, not at all sure, and succumbed to purchasing mosquito dunks (4 of them for $20, ouch, way over-priced at a local garden center). A few days after the dunks, one pond had lost all it's larvae, but two neighboring ponds had plenty of large ones. I couldn't explain this.
During the time that soap was added to the ponds, I could see no floating dead mosquitoes, or dead larvae. In fact, the "water spiders" had disappeared due to the drought (they were not there before the dish soap was applied). I have no idea what the frogs are eating if not mosquito larvae, but there were many uneaten and living, and having a gay old time while frog snouts jutted out from the water all around the edges of ponds, looking like green stones not at all interested in eating.
The two water containers were dumped and refilled, with lids left off to invite mosquitoes. After a week, not one mosquito larvae, whereas the containers had many larvae about a week after rain. It can only mean that the larvae came from the rain trough at the roof. In the case of the larvae in the ponds, they must have been laid there before the rain. What a relief, because I was worried that the few living mosquitoes after the drought could produce that many larvae so quickly.
I Did It. It Works!
By the following spring in 2013, the mosquitos were back to about normal population despite the long drought the summer before. The black flies were as bad as always. I was going crazy, thinking of moving, but determined to stay due to all the yard work that I had done. The gardening was mainly a success, and the place is looking sharp. I had bought some sticky fly strips a couple of weeks ago, and then the idea occurred to wrap one around my hat to see if the deer flies would go for it. I had been working in the front yard to the point of cursing the deer flies swarming round my head. The black flies added to the frustration. I didn't want to put on the DEET daily several times each day, and it was now too hot for the screened suit. What to do? In I went to find my cap.
That's when I saw a near-transparent tupperwear container about 8 inches square. It fit tight over my head. The curling fly strip stuck to it not bad, but a couple of pieces of scotch tape at each end kept it from unraveling. There was only one strip encircling the container on this first test. No sooner did I go back to the front yard that, within seconds, three flies were on the sticky. Seconds later, a fourth fly. None of them had circled my head more than a few times. After the fourth was caught, silence. I was amazed that only four flies were out there.
I was hopeful that I could walk around and attract many more, but to my surprise, there were hardly any more out there on this day. First, I walked down to the garden area. It took a full minute for one to arrive, and it swarmed only three times of four times around my head until I heard the delightful bzzzz sound on the sticky! It was amazing. I loved to listen to them suffer. The same happened after other flies arrived, except that the last one managed to swarm for nearly a minute around my head before going for the sticky. I don't know why this one lasted this long.
The tape is dark brown and very visible on the whitish container. A dark container might attract better since flies are programmed to attack animal fur. In any case, this method is by far the best I've known, and is a highly recommended solution because it has the potential to reduce future generations of flies around your house by many magnitudes with virtually no effort on your part. If only we could find some cheap paste-on, or better yet some spray-on, sticky material.
I was able to work in the front yard at this first trial for about 30 minutes with many fewer black flies on my unprotected arms and neck area. Here is my count on the strip after spending 30-45 minutes out there:
Dear fly: only eight (it means I hardly have any deer flies out there thus far)
Black flies: 86 (excellent! You can imagine why they drive me crazy. Most of them were captured.)
Mosquitoes: three (it's too hot for them to be out mid-afternoon, but promising that these went for the strip)
Although only eight deer flies were caught, there simply were no others. It was silent around me.
I went out to cut the grass along the driveway, disturbing the grass and making a commotion until, after just ten minutes, there were some 200 flies (but whose counting?) on me all at once, too many for the sticky strip to protect me. If the tupperware container was fully covered in sticky, and if my skin was protected, this would be an excellent way to eradicate the flies very quickly and effortlessly. A means to strap the container under the chin would be easy. Just put it on and forget about it, but don't let the neighbors see you without first explaining.
Where the strip had unraveled slightly, some of the glue remained on the container and was able to catch black flies well. This means that when one strip is removed due to being filled with flies, the container will be sticky. As more strips are added and removed, more of the container will become a trap. I think this is going to be an excellent trap. Why isn't it on the market???
At about 8 pm in overcast skies, I removed the first strip and wrapped a new one to the tupperware container. I took the wheelbarrow to the front yard and filled it with rocks, then returned to the garage with it. It took about 2 minutes. There were only 10 mosquitoes on the sticky, but this is not bad at all because it shows that they like the smell and color. There were no black flies on the sticky, and I heard not one deer fly.
I then went for a second trip, and counted 25 afterward. I then walked around the circular driveway slowly and counter 50 in all. By that time, the trap was buzzing loudly, and I could see some 50 black flies in the air around my head, yet they were now not going for the sticky. How can I explain this? Perhaps it's hot afternoon versus the cooler evening. They went for the sticky in droves in the heat of the afternoon.
I then walked to the frog ponds where I can pick up about a 100 mosquitoes and bring them back to the side of the house where they love to land or skim along the block wall. I usually finish off about 50 of them on the block wall in three or four minutes (with a fly swatter). On this test, I remained there about that amount of time and swatted 50 or so. I then came into the house to do a count:
71 mosquitoes; 12 black flies; 1 deer fly
There is something to learn here. The 10 or so deer fly that were around my house this day would have driven me crazy, but within minutes with this trap, they were eliminated. If this can be done when there are 50 or 100 around the house, that would be an incredible relief.
The capture on the trap of 71 mosquitoes in 15 minutes or so is more than I expected.
Immediately after writing the above, I returned to the frog ponds (all within a 1/2-acre clearing) where the mosquitoes can all see me walking through. I probably take back a significant percentage of the population there on each trip to the house, depending on how much they like the temperature. It's about 70 F out now. After swatting another 50 or so at the house wall, in three or four minutes (you get most in the first minute or two), I came inside to do another count: there were now 98 mosquitoes, or almost 30 more after only about five minutes. That is not bad at all. There were no additional black flies, probably because the mosquitoes on the sticky, about every half inch on average, were too intimidating.
Next, as it was starting to grow dark, I just walked around the pond area without bringing them back to the house to swat. I was six or seven minutes total. I could see many black flies and yet they didn't go for the sticky. In the house, the count now was about 180 in all. That's about 80 more in five minutes down by the pond area, and it tells me that mosquitoes (I suppose it may depend on species) will continue to fill the sticky even after it's abundantly filled.
It should be said that if I get sucked by one mosquito while capturing 100 to 200, I may have done it in vain if it lays eggs, and the larvae survive.
Imagine if there were two or three strips of sticky on the container at the same time while spending a half hour taking the mosquitoes to my house wall. The population could be severely eliminated in that small time. Repeat it once per week and eliminate many tens of thousands that would have been the future generations.
I've been wondering whether to fill the ponds with dirt (i.e. to eliminate the ponds). The mosquitoes, even though they may not be laying eggs in them, like to hang around there. Actually, it may be a good idea to have them come in from a wider area so that it's easier / quicker to take care of them. The tadpoles have been countless in all the ponds for weeks to this point, and may be eating the mosquito larvae. I don't see larvae in the water at all even though the place is crawling with mosquitoes.
Two days later, what mosquitoes? I wore the hat trap much of the day outdoors (about three or four hours) and noted that, according to the number of flies on me in the beginning, their numbers dwindled constantly thanks to the sticky. At midday, when I started to wear the trap, one deer fly after the other arrived. I kid you not, that no sooner did they arrive that they went for the sticky.. After about ten of them arrived in the span of a few minutes, there were no more. Amazing. Such an easy fix. That evening, I noted that there were nearly no mosquitoes in the woods beside the ponds. It seemed true that the ponds attracted them from all around so that I could take care of them easily.
On the third day (not hot), at sunset, the pond area and the adjacent woods were virtually free of mosquitoes (I counted one at the ponds). I walked to all areas of my yards and driveway, spending a half hour doing so without the hat trap on. I counted just one deer fly through all this. I was simply amazed. There was never a time when it felt that more than two flies were on me, and at times there seemed to be none. When coming to the wall after that half hour, there were two mosquitoes and about a half dozen black flies on me. After spending five minutes waiting for the black flies to land on the wall, perhaps two more mosquitoes arrived. Unbelievable. This hat trap really works, probably 10,000 times better than hanging the strip on a tree branch. You are what attracts the flies, and the hat does the rest. A round tupperware container or pail that sits snugly on your forehead should be ideal. Or, roll your own pointed hats out of paper cardboard, and dispose of them routinely.
I was even able to turn the fly strips over to use their other sides. Only part of the glue sticks to the tupperware surface. Here's some ideas for home-made fly strips:
One page suggests red transmission fluid on a black surface for deer and horse flies. Another suggests corn syrup in boiled water. Remember, the strips need to be visible to the flies. The brown ones (or are they yellow?) I used were on a whitish tupperware surface. I'm reading that flies like yellow (don't stock up on yellow/brown clothes for the trib). Theoretically, you can re-use the old fly strips once they are no longer sticky. Just re-dip in your home-made mix. It'll look nasty, but you can stomach this because all those dead flies are like your trophy.
Just found this:
Deet doesn't effect deer and horse flies...the only thing that works well and everytime is to buy a cheap hat or take one you don't care about, and put fly tape on the top of it. The pest strip fly tape is a great attractant to them and they land, stick and that's it...they are all done.
It comes down to a question of do you want a piece of fly strip on your hat covered with dead and dying deer flies? Or would you rather be swatting your head and cursing all the trip?
It works so well my older brother, who came up with this idea in the 60s, sold the idea to a company that made a special hat that a removable square of fly paper can be inserted into.
It works. and sadly its the only thing to work on deer, horse and marsh flies.
So why didn't the invention take off? Wearing tormented flies on the hat, I suppose, was not very in-fashion, not even in the country. I can't think of any other reason, unless the hat couldn't take repeated uses. But on my tupperware plastic, the strips come off easily, without damage to the plastic.
A couple of weeks later, I did two trips from the frog ponds in the early morning, bringing back and taking care of 100-200 mosquitoes. But on the next morning, it took nearly two minutes to get a mere 14 mosquitoes. That can't be coincidental; it means that looking after them really works, at least for a few days, to reduce the problem to negligible.
Well into July this year, the deer flies were rare in comparison to the year before, though for the first time in four years, horse flies were a slight problem. They too go for the sticky. Then, there was a large afternoon gathering (60, maybe 100 people) at my neighbors, with music until midnight, which must have attracted flies. The next day, I worked in the yard with a new round tupperware container, and was pestered for about four hours straight by flies, during which time about 40 deer flies were snagged, and dozens of black flies and mosquitoes too. Although there were constantly deer flies around my head, the sticky strip kept their numbers very low upon me at any given time. It was well worth wearing the hat trap.
On another occasion a couple of weeks later, I pulled weeds and mowed lawn for less than three hours while deer flies continually landed on the trap to the tune of over 50, with more than 100 black flies coming out of hiding in the cool grass while it was being mowed. After mowing, there were no flies around me. It was excellent. The numbers above represent most of the flies present at the time, not a small fraction. The same strip was used for a few days afterward to maintain low numbers, and as the end of July approached, for the first time ever, I stood realizing that, for a couple of hours, I was working without any flies bothering me at all. Such an easy fix.
The next two days saw me working shirtless outdoor most of the day with practically no deer flies. The day after that, I continued my battle against dandelions on the gravel driveway, where there are normally a hundred or two deer flies hanging out, but now there were practically none. I have no explanation for this aside from the hat trap. Over about four hours in various parts of the yard that day, the hat trap caught just 15 deer flies. No sooner did they swarm in that I could hear their buzzing protest in the sticky. Nine out of ten times after their initial protest, they end up flat on their backs with both wings stuck, silent. (On this day, the few mosquitoes along the driveway did not go for the sticky, as my arms were what they wanted most, but on the next day, quite a few mosquitoes, a few hundred feet away in the garden area, did go for it.)
Right after writing that, another couple of hours was spent pulling weeds, afterwhich the count on the hat was 21, meaning that only six more deer flies pestered me over that span of time...yet they did not pester me because the hat got them. This tends to prove that deer flies do tend to stay at the same location so that, once they are cleared from that particular area, it can be largely free of flies for the foreseeable future. Imagine the dwindling of numbers from future generations if the hat is used regularly.
It's been dry for the past few weeks, but last summer there was a wholesale drought and yet deer flies thrived through to September. Therefore, my only explanation for the unexpected lack of flies now, at the end of July, is the hat trap. The next trick is to invent something that looks like an animal, that moves on its own, and wears sticky strips on its "head." Change the strips every few days.
Take heart as you look forward to your own fly-pest experience. I am alone, but if there were ten people outdoors all at once with me, I would have ten times fewer flies on me, and there would be ten times as many swatters (or hat-trap wearers) taking care of the flies. It's no wonder they had big families back in the "old" days.
By the way, it's the end of July, but I have not seen one mosquito larva in any frog pond. I can't explain this, but I'm very happy about it.
As I'm writing now, it's August 6. I've been here almost five years; I know that the past week or so, since writing above, has been miraculous in that deer flies continue to remain virtually absent. Day after day, they are virtually gone. For example, I was pulling weeds again where they used to live the most, beside the driveway. That area is a thicket of weeds three to five feet tall, many of which I leave because they look like plants. Mosquitos thrive there as a result of the coolness in the weeds, with the weeds growing moreover under trees. But on this day, spending a couple of hours (without the hat trap) pulling the unwanted species and mowing lawn, I heard about four deer fly in all, and perhaps eight mosquitos, though some of those may have been the same ones.
One theory is that the first batch of mosquitoes this May and June were from mosquito eggs laid two years ago; they didn't hatch last year. As last summer was a drought, with very few mosquitoes active through much of the summer, they didn't lay many eggs, explaining why mosquitoes have been few as of July. Either that, or the hat trap is "miraculous." Definitely, in the case of the deer flies, it would seem that the hat trap has been responsible. The better news is that next year should be even better.
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