Question - Mosquitoes are eating us alive. Bug zappers don't seem to help, and they waste electricity. Are there better non-electric, natural ways to control mosquitoes so my children are not exposed to insecticides? - J. H.
Answer - High-voltage bug zappers, which electrocute bugs with 5,000 volts, use about 115 watts of electricity. Over an entire summer, the total electric bill is high. They are not selective and kill many good bugs too.
Buying or attracting beneficial mosquito-eating bugs and animals (dragonflies, bats and toads) to your yard can dramatically reduce mosquitoes.
One dragonfly can eat 100 mosquitoes and larvae in 30 minutes. A common bat consumes 1,000 mosquitoes per night. A toad can eat hundreds in early evening when mosquitoes are often worst.
Bats have gotten a bad reputation. People are rarely infected with rabies from bats. They do not get tangled in people's hair or suck blood. They are not blind. In fact they have excellent eyesight.
Dragonflies do not sting or bite people. Bats, dragonflies and toads are much less risk to your children's health than insecticides or 5,000-volt bug zappers. Your children will also develop an appreciation for nature.
Dragonflies are attracted by placing three-foot high poles in sunny spots in your yard. They like long pieces of bamboo. To attract toads, break a hole in the side of a clay pot and place it upside-down in a shady area.
Complete bat houses can be purchased for about $25 or you can easily build your own. A good bat house has many vertical narrow slots inside with an open bottom. One can house 20 bats. That's 20,000 fewer mosquitoes per night.
Mount the bat house at least 10 feet high. It should be located so it is exposed to the east or southeast sun. This warms it in the morning.
There are also many other beneficial insects that can replace insecticides in your garden or on indoor plants. These can be purchased from many mail-order outlets and generally cost less to use than chemical poisons.
Lacewings (called aphid lions) can rid your garden of aphids and other pests. For about $6, you can buy enough to take care of a typical garden.
A combination of various types of tiny spider mites predators can rid your indoor plants of the mites. Just sprinkle some on each plant. Microscopic predator nematodes worms (only $12 for one million) in your yard can greatly reduce fleas that your pets pick up and bring indoors.
Write for Update Bulletin No. 697 listing 25 good bug and bat house mail-order suppliers and prices, a 17 household and garden good bugs/pests selector chart and do-it-yourself instructions for making two designs of bat houses. Please include $2.00 and a business-size SASE. Write to James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Question - I was up in my attic and noticed a large gap between my brick chimney and the attic floor. I could feel a light breeze flowing upward through it. What is the best method to block this leak? - R. J.
Answer - Cut aluminum flashing material slightly larger than the distance from the joists to the chimney. Lay a bead of caulk on top of the joists and nail the flashing to them. Bend the edge down over the side of the joist.
Using a piece of lumber as a straight edge, hammer it against the other end of the flashing and the chimney to form an upward bend tight against the chimney. Run a heavy bead of caulk to seal it against the chimney.