The Best in Mosquito Elimination


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.

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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!

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!