The Best in Mosquito Elimination


Hidden Valley=Hidden Gem

St. Louis skiing may sound like an oxymoron to some, but head out to Hidden Valley and you’ll see that’s not the case! Located a few miles from Highway 44 near Eureka, Hidden Valley offers a day of fun for the whole family no matter what your ski level. This is one reason to enjoy St. Louis winters!

We went to Hidden Valley yesterday a few days after getting three inches of snow. We ski in Montana every Christmas, so we are used to massive mountains and lots of snow. Upon arriving my daughter said, “This reminds me of Montana.” I giggled to myself…ahhh…seeing things through the eyes of a child. Hidden Valley couldn’t have asked for a better compliment!

Lift tickets and rentals for one adult and two children were $174. Helmet rental was an additional $10 per helmet. Renting equipment was super easy with no lines. (I was warned by a friend who works at Hidden Valley to arrive right at opening because the lines at rentals can get very long). The equipment is basic, which is fine because the skiing isn’t too difficult. Be sure to bring quarters for the lockers to store your personal items while you’re skiing.

With three ski lifts and a magic carpet leading to the bunny slope, there is quick, easy access to the nine or so runs. The mountain is 300 feet high and some of the runs are surprisingly longer than I figured possible.  There are lots of beginner skiers and the typical teenagers who go faster than they should, so stay alert. HV offers private lessons and ski school for skiing and snowboarding. I highly recommend lessons if you are a beginner.

We had a blast skiing all day on black diamonds! Of course these aren’t like black diamonds out west, but now my girls can say they’ve skied black diamonds. Skiing was best on the “backside” of the mountain…not many people which means the snow wasn’t very “skied-off” exposing icy patches. I can honestly say that HV exceeded all of my expectations. We had such a pleasant day, and we can’t wait to go back. Next time the girls are excited to try the tubing at Polar Plunge and Nastar, which is a national racing program. If you’re interested in Nastar, it costs $5.00. You pay at the top before you race down, so don’t forget cash.

If you’re looking for some outdoor fun in the middle of winter, be sure to head to Hidden Valley. It’s no Vail or Aspen, but they do a good job. Put it on your calendar…you won’t be disappointed!

BUG BYTE: We’re headed to the Mosquito Squad Annual Meeting this week. Can’t wait to learn some new stuff to keep us the best and smartest in mosquito and tick control. 

Got Cabin Fever? IPhone Apps that Get Me through the Winter Blues.

Happy New Year! Mosquito Squad wishes you a happy and healthy 2012!

I have a love/hate relationship with January. I enjoy the “organize your life and house” feeling that January brings, but I despise the cold weather and the cabin fever that accompany winter. One positive thing…winter solstice has come and gone and the days are now getting longer, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that easy summer living is still months away. Until then, I have some fun iPhone apps that keep me connected to the great outdoors in some form or fashion.

iBird Explorer Midwest With tons of rich information in its database, iBird is worth the $4.99. This cutting edge field guide to 585 birds in the midwest will keep you entertained for hours. Be sure to check out the bird songs and calls. They might come in handy while you’re hunting your Thanksgiving turkey. Seriously though, this fascinating app has everything you need to become the neighborhood ornithologist except the binoculars of course.

Accuweather Whether you need to check the weather for school bus pick up or for a trip across country, Accuweather has all you need. You’ll never use the weather app that comes standard on the iPhone again. Another bonus…it’s free!

Photo Garden There is nothing sweeter than a new crocus popping up in the dead of winter. Now I can photograph and document it along with every other plant in my garden throughout the year. Photo Garden is a fun, visual way to keep track of ever evolving plants. It’s so simple: 1. Name the garden. 2. Take a picture of the entire garden. 3. Add each plant found in the garden. 4. Each week update the photos of your plants and garden. 5. Enjoy your collection over time. You can even email pictures of garden successes (and failures) to friends and family. Finally, that prize winning tomato plant will get the attention it deserves. All of this for just $.99!

Planets Release your inner Galileo with this FREE app that’s sure to be a family-pleaser. Just set your location and your iPhone will teach you things about the solar system that will definitely make you smarter than a fifth grader!

Postcards on the Run Who doesn’t love getting a postcard in the mailbox? But with email and texting at our fingertips, hardly anyone sends them. Postcards on the Run combines today’s technology with the nostalgia of mailed postcards. Simply snap a picture, tap a message (along with an address) and press send. Postcards on the Run does the rest making sure your postcard arrives in your loved one’s mailbox.  Surprise your grandparents or college roommate with a keepsake they can hold close to their heart. It will make their day…and you’ll look clever at the same time! The app is free but each postcard costs approximately $1.50.

Do you have any fun apps that I need to know about? I’d love to hear from you.

Dog Days Call for Green Gazpacho

So it goes without saying that it’s hot outside—and the next few days are going to be hotter. The end of summer is upon us, weighing heavy with humidity. It’s almost September, and this heat makes me want to get out of the kitchen. (If the truth be known, I’ll take summer heat over winter anytime! I’m just always looking for an excuse not to cook)! It’s Labor Day on Monday, but that doesn’t mean you have to labor in the kitchen!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten really good at finding yummy snacks and treats on the go, from the comfort of my air-conditioned car. Pretzel Boys for a salt fix, Tropical Moose for shaved ice. Chick-fil-A makes a mean lemonade. And this is St. Louis—people do love their frozen custard. I understand the obsession with Ted Drewes, so I know I’m committing sacrilege here, but I prefer Baskin Robbins! Peanut Butter ‘n Chocolate is to die for!

It is prime farmers’ market season, too. And in the Midwest, that means corn on the cob so fresh that it doesn’t even need cooking (bonus)!, heirloom tomatoes that I eat like apples and countless varieties of juicy fruits.

Here is one of my all-time favorite summer recipes—I call it “green gazpacho.” No cooking involved, just some washing, a bit of chopping and a couple presses of a “puree” button and you have a cool lunch, snack or dessert. My kids love it, too. They get a kick out of the bright green color twisting its way through their bendy straws, and I get a kick out of tricking them into eating fruits and veggies that they normally refuse.

Let me know if you have any favorite summer recipes that take advantage of all the fresh produce—and don’t involve a heat source!

Bon appétit, and stay cool!

Green Gazpacho (makes five 1-cup servings)

  • 1/2 a honeydew melon
  • 2 cups green grapes
  • 1/2 a peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 a green pepper
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed
  • Zest and juice of a lime
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley
  • Optional: quartered grapes and diced cucumber, pepper and avocado for garnish

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. A perfect treat for Labor Day Weekend.

BUG BYTE: Mosquitoes are still active in St. Louis until late October. Mosquitoes function best at 80 degrees, become lethargic at 60 degrees and inactive during consistent 50 degree weather.

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.

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!

Bald and Beautiful

Sunday, March 21st is World Eagle Day. This special day really hits home for us this year. On a snowy January day we found a wounded Bald Eagle-one of his talons was deeply severed. Lovingly named “Feathers” by our daughters, he was in great need of medical attention. In St. Louis we are lucky to have the wonderful World Bird Sanctuary, whose mission is to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. Staffed by 25 professionals and many dedicated volunteers, they took great care of Feathers during his rehabilitation. Everyday we looked forward to the updates of Feathers’ progress and were reassured that he was receiving the best support possible. Unfortunately, gangrene set in and even with all of the top of the line help he received, Feathers wasn’t strong enough for the fight. After five days of hospitalization, we got the dreaded phone call, and then and there our daughters learned a life lesson.

Interestingly, Feathers’ remains were sent to a Native American tribe to use in tribal ceremonies. There are lots of adjectives to describe a bald eagle but none more fitting than majestic. Watch our video of Feathers, and you’ll see for yourself.

Be sure to visit the World Bird Sanctuary on Sunday from 10-4 and help celebrate eagles from around the world. There will be fun, educational activities for the whole family.

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater Saint Louis‘ mission is to help make your outdoor experiences wonderful. The World Bird Sanctuary takes it to the next level. Thank you!

Mosquito Squad Goes “GREEN” with the All Natural Barrier Spray

Let’s raise a mug of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and celebrate Mosquito Squad’s going “green” with its all natural barrier spray. This garlic based treatment works because mosquitoes are approximately 10,000 times more sensitive to garlic than humans are. It masks the main mosquito attractants like carbon dioxide, while also confusing those annoying little pests.  When sprayed on shrubs, groundcover and trees, the all natural barrier spray acts as a repellent keeping mosquitoes off of your property. So let’s celebrate another proven solution from Mosquito Squad with an Irish jig performed by my daughter! And if you want to have some Irish fun today, head out to the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dogtown.

As always, Mosquito Squad of Greater St. Louis’ mission is to help make your outdoor living experiences wonderful. May you have a lucky day!

Flightless Mosquitoes Used in the Fight Against Dengue Fever.

People in the science, health and technology fields have always fascinated me. And once again, I am amazed by these smarty-pants. Thanks to researchers from the University of California at Irvine and Oxford University, mankind now has a new tool in the shed to help in the age-old battle against mosquitoes.  Aedes aegypti is a species of mosquito that spreads dengue fever, a flu-like disease that is endemic to over 100 countries. The report from the Proceedings from the National Academy of Science explains how the researchers genetically engineered the Aedes aegypti so that wing muscles don’t properly develop in female offspring leaving them unable to fly. When introduced into the wild these “lab” mosquitoes will mate with normal mosquitoes and produce non-flying offspring that will help diminish this disease spreading population of mosquitoes because a mosquito that can’t fly is a dead mosquito. This project was sponsored by the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges for Global Health Initiatives with hopes of eventually being able to wipe out mosquitoes that spread malaria and West Nile Virus, too.

In the meantime, Mosquito Squad can help fight the bite of mosquitoes on your property. Whether you choose the traditional barrier spray, all-natural barrier spray, special event spray for your next party or a misting system, we promise you a 100% satisfaction guarantee. What do you have to lose? Except for mosquitoes. Give us a call. 314-569-BITE (2483).