The Best in Mosquito Elimination


Doctor’s Orders: What you need to know about sunscreen and insect repellents.

During yet another rainy summer day this past week, I went on a tear—cleaning my house like a maniac. Sick of all the clutter that accumulates from our busy lifestyles, I moved from room to room like a tropical storm—carrying a trashcan and pitching or recycling what’s become useless.

Which brings me to my bathroom vanities, where I discovered a stockpile of old, expired creams, medicines, free samples and other tubes of goo just begging to be trashed. I was actually embarrassed to find four or five old bottles of sunscreen, shoved behind a mountain of shower poufs. The expiration dates had passed—a long time ago. Yikes.

But that’s a lot of sunscreen to pitch, especially at $8 a bottle. Do expiration dates really matter? Why? In general, what should we be doing during the summer to help protect our skin from the sun and insects and slow the aging process?

I asked local dermatologist Dr. Mary Noёl George to answer these questions. I thought you’d like to know what she said, too, especially about those combo sunscreen/bug spray products prominently displayed for purchase this time of year.

 Do expiration dates on sunscreen bottles really matter? Why?

Dr. George: “Expiration dates definitely matter. If the expiration date has passed, the sunscreen is no longer as effective; its active ingredients have broken down over time. If you use sunscreen as directed—liberally and generously, a bottle should not last from one year to the next.”

What do you mean by  “liberally and generously?”

Dr. George: “For sunscreen to be effective, you need to apply an entire ounce—think: a shot glass full—of the product to your body. And you should apply an entire tablespoon full to your face. That means that each bottle of sunscreen stashed in the back of your vanity should have been empty after only 6-8 applications.” (Okay, okay, I get it—no leftovers from now on! Doctor’s orders.)

What about products that combine sunscreen and insect repellant? These are so convenient, but are they a good idea?

Dr. George: I recommend using separate products—not combo products, especially those containing DEET. Because application directions for sunscreen and repellant are different, they need to be applied separately. Apply sunscreen first then the repellant. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or bathing. To protect your skin from insects, one application of a repellant with DEET is enough. A little DEET goes a long way.

The ingredients in sunscreens can increase your skin’s absorption of DEET by up to three times, increasing its potency—another reason why the combo products are a bad idea.

In addition, products containing DEET should not be applied to young children’s skin, making combo products completely out of the question. This is one of the big reasons why I like Mosquito Squad of Greater St. Louis’ product—it isn’t applied to the skin and therefore not absorbed into our bodies. We get the benefits of the product with absolutely no risk to our skin or overall health. The Squad’s product is a win-win.

In general, what should we be doing to help protect our skin (and slow the aging process)? What’s your best advice?

Dr. George: “Sunscreen is the number-one anti-aging, anti-wrinkle cream available, and wearing it is the single most important thing you can do to maintain youthful skin. And with sunscreen, you can protect yourself from skin cancers and therefore maintain your overall health. Second, ask your dermatologist about using a topical retinoid cream, like Retin-A, or an over-the-counter retinol. These creams gently exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells and encourage new, plump, youthful skin cells to surface. They also help fade dark spots caused by the sun.”

Thanks, Dr. George!

BUG BYTE: Genetics account for 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. Read here to find out why mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others.

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Getting Saucy with Barbecue

I can’t believe that I’m already starting to plan our Fourth of July barbecue… Making the guest list, brainstorming menu ideas, digging out decorations. Where does the time go? In just a week, we’ll be watching fireworks—and I’m excited.

As a native of Goldsboro in Eastern North Carolina, I take my barbecue very seriously. In fact, the same can be said of Southerners in general: barbecue is a matter of great pride and tradition. If you’re from the region you know—there are totally different barbecue methods, sauces and preferences almost everywhere you go. These styles even divide my home state! If you live east of Raleigh, you cook the entire pig (as opposed to just certain parts) and douse it in a vinegar-based sauce that’s thin—almost watery—especially compared to local sauces like Maull’s, a St. Louis favorite.

Given my roots and my region’s love of barbecue, you can imagine how tickled I was to read that  Garden & Gun magazine decided that Goldsboro’s own  Wilber’s Barbecue has the best barbecue sauce! I enjoy eating at Wilber’s whenever I’m back in town, and I agree with Garden & Gun—Wilber’s is the best. To satisfy my cravings here in St. Louis, I make my own sauce (Courtesy of Lori):

2 quarts cider vinegar

1/4 cup salt

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons red pepper flakes

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together and stir until the salt and brown sugar dissolve. Cover and let stand 3 hours before using as a basting sauce or serving on pork.

Garden & Run also ran a brief article on sauces in the South: “The Sauce Question.” It’s worth checking out if you want to know more about the different types.

Are you barbecuing for the Fourth of July? Do you make your own sauce? If so, please share your ideas and recipes in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you! And if you don’t yet use  Mosquito Squad of Greater St. Louis, consider trying us now for a mosquito-free Fourth of July.

Happy barbecuing!

BUG BYTE: June 27-July 1 is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. This is extremely timely since St. Louis County Vector Control has found West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in Clayton, Richmond Heights, Mehlville, Hanley Hills, Manchester, Florissant and Lemay already this season. 

Itch! Itch! Scratch! Scratch! Washington University Wants to Figure It Out!

After spending the evening playing with my kids at a local park (one which evidently does NOT use Mosquito Squad!), I spent this morning repeatedly applying hydrocortisone cream to my legs. My ankles especially are covered in bites – and now in white goo, too. Not my best look.

I get devoured by mosquitoes, and when I do, I itch. Badly. Like, scratch-till-I-bleed badly. I know some people who don’t even get bitten, much less itch when they do. I could curse their good luck—if I weren’t so busy cursing my bleeding bites.

So over the years of scabs and scars, I’ve often wondered, “What’s the DEAL with my skin? Why all the itch?” It turns out, several scientists at Washington University School of Medicine have been wondering the same thing (but in much more intelligent terms, of course). To answer these and other burning (bleeding!) questions, they recently launched the Center for the Study of Itch—the only one of its kind in the world. And it’s right here in St. Louis!

According to Zhou-Feng Chen, PhD, the center’s director, scientists don’t know a whole lot about why we itch and how to best treat itch, especially chronic itch due to cancer, disease, medications and allergic reactions. For a long time, they thought itch was a version of pain; working under this assumption, they didn’t do any new research on the topic.

Recently, however, scientists began studying itch as a separate, unique phenomenon. Using mouse genetics, they isolated an itch gene (which apparently I have!). This discovery led to additional findings about itch and how it’s communicated to and from our brains. “The time has arrived to study itch as a disease in its own right,” says Chen. Agreed!

The center’s scientists hope to apply their findings to more effective evaluations of and treatments for itch. A summer without scabs? White goo be gone? Now that would make for a pleasant walk in the park.

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful (by taking out the itch).

BUG BYTE: Only the female mosquito bites. And actually it’s not a bite. She pierces the skin with a straw-like proboscis looking for blood to get protein to lay eggs. She releases her saliva in the process which the human body sees as a foreign substance. We then produce histamine as a response resulting in the bump and nerve irritation, which causes the annoying itch!

Right in Your Own Backyard…Tick-borne Diseases.

Bambi isn’t so cute anymore. I have to say I was a little shocked when I read this article. We all know about Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but other tick-borne diseases like babesiosis, STARI and ehrlichiosis are also on the rise. MSNBC’s report Under-the-Radar Tick Diseases Spreading Across the US details the frightening increase of these illnesses. Two St. Louis doctors are quoted in the article. Dr. Gregory Storch, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Washington University is heading up a tick-borne inter-disciplinary research team to investigate the who, what, when and why of the rising number of cases popping up in St. Louis. Dr. Farrin A. Manian is the chief of infectious diseases at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. He theorizes that the rise in tick-borne diseases in the St. Louis area is due to a booming deer population that likes to sleep in the thick invasive honeysuckle that grows everywhere in our region. Then the deer venture onto lawns, parks and backyards where ticks fall off eventually getting picked up by people and pets. Yuck!

How can you avoid ticks? Wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat. Wear light colored clothes so that you can see any ticks. Wear insect repellent with DEET. Be sure to give yourself and/or children a tick check. Don’t forget about the scalp!

Mosquito Squad can provide tick protection for your yard. Call us if you have any questions about our services and how we can help you.

The ScuttleBUZZ Goes Live.

2011 is going to be an exciting year in the blog world! As you have noticed, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis’ blog has a new name: “The ScuttleBUZZ…inside scoop on outside living.” As seen in my previous blogs, I like to journey beyond the world of mosquitoes, and I thought I needed a fun name to relay that message. This is where you’ll find the 4-1-1 on outdoor fun. But never fret…I will continue to add interesting and relevant news about all things mosquito, tick and flea that I think are worthwhile to pass along. Be sure to keep your eye out for these “bug bytes.”

I just came across a new company in St. Louis called The Backyard BBQ Grill Company. What a simple yet innovative concept they have. How many of you have caked on crud all over your grill? Did you know that not properly cleaning your grill greatly reduces its lifespan, affects the flavor of your food and can be a fire hazard? Well that’s where Steve and his company can help you out. Using a unique steam cleaning system, they thoroughly clean your grill making sure it’s ready for your next outdoor cooking adventure. Wow! Another great service by another great St. Louis company.

Way to go The Backyard BBQ Grill Company! Just like Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis you’re helping make outdoor experiences wonderful!

BUG BYTE: In Malaysia genetically modified male mosquitoes were released into the wild. The Malaysian authorities hope the modified male mosquitoes will breed with wild females and produce offspring with a shorter lifespan hoping to slow the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. Here in STL you don’t need to wait for genetically modified mosquitoes to eradicate the pests. Mosquito Squad of Greater St. Louis is prepared to safely solve your mosquito problem from April through October, allowing your family to enjoy your outdoor areas.

Homegrown fun…the county fair.

So our oldest daughter leaves for sleep away camp tomorrow. Having never been a camper myself, I’m not sure where she gets this urge to spend six nights in an un-air-conditioned teepee. (By the way, the temperature is going to be 98 degrees on Tuesday. Bless her little soul). I may not like camp life, but I do love a county fair. As her last hurrah before she loads the bus and heads out in the morning, the family went to the St. Charles County Fair.

I grew up in a small town in eastern North Carolina. One of the highlights of the year was the county fair. It was always in early fall. I loved the 4-H animals, cheerleading competitions, monster truck races, down home cooking (especially the ham biscuits), nausea inducing rides and those always fashionable little metal clips with the skinny leather strips with colorful feathers on the end that my older brother’s friends told me were for illegal purposes. What?!! It was small town living at its finest!

I’ll be the first one to tell you that not many people around here are going to a county fair. My girls definitely didn’t know what to expect tonight as we loaded up in the car for the 45 minute drive. But oh how their eyes lit up with the first glance of the Ferris wheel. It’s not often that they get to pet cows and see prize chickens. When one of them touched a “real egg” you would have thought she touched Hannah Montana! (Never mind that we have a dozen in the fridge). They learned that angora comes from rabbits. They even got a turn, although very brief, on a mechanical bull. It proved to be a tough match for them. Goats, an 8 week old pig, camels, and turtles made the petting zoo a hit. Who can go to a fair without getting suckered into playing the games? As with everything else these days though everyone is a winner. Kind of nice I have to say to be guaranteed a prize. The prizes are still as cheesy as ever…some things never change. And speaking of things never changing, the “carnies” look the exact same along with the rides that seem like they could swing off their hinges any minute. Regardless, everyone still rides them and loves every minute of it. We knew it was time to end the evening when we hopped on the Ferris wheel only to be met with a lightning storm. With everyone freaking out, I calmly said, “Have you ever heard of anyone dying on a Ferris wheel from lightning?” Don’t know if anyone has, but my confident delivery seemed to calm everyone down. One thing is for sure, they’ll all remember their first ride on a Ferris wheel. You know it’s been a good night as you’re walking back to the car in the rain and hear, “Mom and dad, that was the best family night ever!”

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful. The volunteers at the St. Charles County Fair are taking it to the next level. Thanks for providing some wonderful memories for my family!

Campho-Phenique? Still? Really? Seriously?

The other day I was talking to a grandmother who had her precious granddaughter in a red flyer wagon. The sweet little girl had some welts on her arm caused by mosquitoes. When I made a comment about the painful looking, raised, red areas…the grandmother said, “She’ll be fine. I just put some campho-phenique on them.” Holy blast to the past. I remember that little green bottle so vividly. When I was a little girl, campho-phenique was a staple in our medicine cabinet! Even with its fancy sounding french name, Jeff Foxworthy includes campho-phenique in his redneck jokes. “You know you’re a redneck when you think campho-phenique is a miracle drug.” My family sure thought it was. It ranked right up there with mentholatum, baby aspirin and mercurochrome. I’m lucky I never got mercury poisoning. Did you know mercurochrome was officially taken off the market in the US in 1998? The US FDA deemed it a potential hazard because of its mercury content. Many a time, I walked around with that literal “red badge of courage.” The reddish brown stain left on the skin after treatment of a cut or bug bite was a sign that I just endured some MAJOR stinging. Fortunately for my children’s generation, mercurochrome has gone the way of the milkman.

How do most people treat mosquito bites today? According to America’s favorite pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, you should use a multi-prong approach. Begin with an antihistamine like Zyrtec. That will help relieve the itching. A simple mixture of baking soda and water applied to the bites can bring relief. Calamine lotion or a topical anesthetic like Caladryl helps, too. Ibuprofen can cut back on inflammation. Topical steroid creams offer aid from itching. Sometimes systemic steroids are needed in cases of extreme allergic reactions. Funny how he doesn’t mention campho-phenique.

The best way to treat mosquito bites is to prevent them. Give Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis a call. With our successful barrier spray, you’ll be sure to enjoy your yard without the nuisance of mosquitoes. No bugs. No bites. No kidding.

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful!

Catching Up With Mosquito Squad!

For those of you who anxiously await my blogs, I apologize for the recent lag. Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis has been so busy fighting mosquitoes and winning that we have hardly had time for anything else. So here I sit at 10:45 at night, all kids are tucked in bed, storms are rolling in, and I’m ready to write.

Lots of things have been going on. I never followed up on my previous blog about training for the St. Louis 1/2 Marathon. I completed it and beat last year’s time by one minute. Dr. Oz just last week reiterated the fact that mosquitoes are one of the most dangerous animals on earth carrying diseases like West Nile Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis (ironically named for an awful outbreak in St. Louis in 1933). We donated fifty mosquito nets to Malaria No More. They will protect at least 100 people from disease carrying mosquitoes for five years! Someone wrecked into the Skeeter Beater (our truck) scraping up the great artwork, denting a rim and ruining the bumper. That was a very sad day. My daughter and her classmates raised over $600 for the World Bird Sanctuary. One mom even developed a Save the Birds website! I successfully convinced the editors at Ladue News that Mosquito Squad should be featured as a perfect Father’s Day gift in its “Great Gifts for Dads” story. Look for us in its June 11th edition. Finally, come see us at the Clayton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays (8:30-12:00) in June. After stopping by our booth to say hi, you’ve got to head over to Blues Hog Barbeque Company and buy the best bbq in town. Bill Arnold pulls up the night before and camps out while he slow-cooks ribs, pork shoulder and brisket. You’ve got to get there early because he sells out fast!

I’m going to close with the best testimony for Mosquito Squad. Just tonight at 8:15 my girls headed outside to catch lightning bugs. Not one mosquito bite on any of them!

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful! There is nothing sweeter than catching lightning bugs mosquito-free!

Conway Kids’ Lemonade Stand Raises Money for the World Bird Sanctuary

Conway School has the best group of third graders! At Tilles Park every Sunday from noon-2:00 during the month of May, they are sponsoring a lemonade stand. The proceeds will benefit the World Bird Sanctuary and its mission to help injured birds of prey. In the first two weeks, they have raised over $200!! One of the parents has even created a website to help the kids’ efforts. www.savethebirdstlouis.com. Come visit us one Sunday and enjoy some refreshing lemonade. (You’ll find us between the swings and the playground). Don’t forget to enter the raffle. You could win a 12 person private tour of the World Bird Sanctuary, and then you can help release a rehabilitated bird back into the wild! As you can see for yourself…helping others is lots of fun.

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful. The children at Conway are taking it to the next level. Thanks, kids!

It’s World Malaria Day.

Every year 850,000 people die from malaria. 90 percent of those who die are under the age of five. We at Mosquito Squad (the world’s largest mosquito control company) have a social purpose to help raise funds to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015, and heighten awareness of the malaria plight, by supporting Malaria No More in every way possible.

For every customer who signs up with Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis, we are donating $10 to Malaria No More. $10 will buy a treated mosquito net that will protect one family from the bite of deadly mosquitoes. You can help too! Since today is World Malaria Day, why not make a $10 donation by texting “SWAT” to 85944 or by visiting SwatMalaria.net online? Think about how lucky we are to go to sleep in a bug-free cozy bed. We don’t have to worry about dangerous mosquitoes who bite only at night, often transferring the parasite that causes malaria from person to person. African families do, but we can help change that! Click here to see for yourself how something as simple as a bed net is a proven, successful tool in the battle against malaria.

American Idol Gives Back believes in Malaria No More‘s efforts. Of the $45,000,000 that was raised on Wednesday night’s show $8,000,000 will go to Malaria No More, which will provide 800,000 bed nets. Amazing! You can help FIGHT THE BITE and save lives in Africa, too. It’s the best $10 you’ll ever spend!

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful. Malaria No More takes it to the next level. Thank you!

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