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Green Acre #113: Bug Buzz

PERHAPS YOU’VE noticed the mosquitoes?

A few sunny, blue-sky mornings ago I was dragging Lula the granddog about, enjoying the Emerald City green of the lawns. Everyone with grass appears to be cultivating a miniature golf course. Tiny birds were winging about chirpily—I’m not a bird person, these who-knows-whats were only slightly bigger than butterflies, which were also out in abundance. The birds were dipping and swooping, the butterflies perched on the flowers, batting their pretty wings, the dog was running circles around my legs with her leash. A flower bomb scented the air.

It was a 6-year-old girl’s birthday card—minus only the glitter.*

Then Lu stopped to lavishly anoint a patch of weed, and a gazillion blood- sucking little vampires ouched my ankles. It’s making me itch just writing this.

I’ve heard there are city blocks that chip in for a spray program for the little buggers. Ours does not, though various homeowners who live around us do—which we have taken advantage of in past summers, the drift of chemicals taking care of our yard effortlessly and, I might add, cheaply.

Not this year. The same rains that have made Washington DC as beautiful, floriferous and lush as I’ve ever seen it, have brought out more damn bugs than have ever pestilented the atmosphere.

My parsimonious Prince and I have actually debated hiring Mr. Mosquito Rid to deal with this, the back porch being usable for only a few brief hours in the middle of the day, and dining on the patio amid the monster elephant ears and whatnots that constitute our jungle, out of the question.

As his delicate Irish skin is particularly delectable to insects, The Prince  actually agreed to at least consider The Hiring.

The only things stopping us now are his 12 precious goldfish. “Feeder fish” is what they’re called at the pet shop. The kind of no-account fish you buy to feed your anaconda. Ten will set you back a buck. For the same reason hiring a bug wrangler has been delayed, it took a bit for him to spring for the extra 20 cents and buy 12, which was important to him for some reason.  

But they’re happy little things, I guess, the alternative being such as it might be.

Over the years we’ve tried those irritating bug zappers that fry mosquitoes as the steaks are grilling. Zip zip snap crackle pop.  We’ve also invested in cans of spray that are guaranteed non-toxic and are about as effective: Sometimes we can get through a dinner party.

But all fails us this monsoon summer.

So the other day I was outside searching for moonflower buds on the vines that are growing so enthusiastically from the big pot beside the front door, stretching up to encircle the light, which hasn’t worked in years. (There’s this electrician My Prince knows, the best, he tells me. We’re on some list.)

My theory is that once the big white flowers open they will brighten up the entry most delightfully, between blossom and outrageous scent. This is neither here nor there.

Anyway, I’m out there on the front porch and I see Mr. Mosquito Rid pulled up to the curb, or kerb if you’re reading this in English as many apparently do (for totally mysterious reasons).  He has tossed this large tank across his burly shoulder and is heading toward the alley alongside our house and I stop him.

“Hullloooo!! Is that spray toxic to fish?”

“Nope,” he says. “Not this stuff, it’s just garlic.”

“What?” I say.

“One hundred percent garlic mixed with water,” he says. “A lot of our customers ask for non-toxic sprays and this is it.”


“Yep,” he says, going to the truck and pulling out a jug marked 100% garlic juice. “You can get it at Home Depot.”

This is exactly what we did. Or The Prince did. They didn’t have SunJoe Super Garlic Defense** in stock at our local store, but they ordered it. You have to spray pretty regularly, but not only does it repel mosquitoes, says the label, it can take care of your rabbit, deer, raccoon, slug and various other . . . inpestations.***

Well, of course, I think, if garlic can scare away vampires, surely it can handle mosquitoes. It smells a bit nasty, though they say that fades. I wonder what it will do to the fishes’ breath.

I’ll keep you posted.  

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

* Did you know there was such a thing as edible glitter spray? Now on my Amazon wish list.

**SunJoe and several other garlic concoctions are also available through various retailers including Target and Walmart, and on Amazon, where the reviews for use against mosquitoes are generally positive. Warding off deer and other large animals, not so much.

*** Not a real word but should be.

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” reports in from her backyard every Thursday.


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