The Best in Mosquito Elimination


Staycation St. Louis Style

It’s August.  Work has slowed down, the kids are tiring of their lazy summer routine, and all you want to do is go on vacation.  But the reason you didn’t plan one already is because vacations are SO expensive.  What is the solution?  A staycation of course!

Staycations are exciting because you make your own rules.  The only defining factor is that you sleep at home, therefore saving all of the money that would normally be spent on travel and lodging.  Beyond that simple restriction the time is yours!  Below are some ideas for creating a special staycation in St. Louis.

1. Set rules for use of electronics, seeing friends, doing errands, answering the phone, responding to emails, and anything else that signifies routine life.

2. Try out new restaurants.  Limit the amount of cooking you do so that you can maximize your leisure time

3. Enjoy lots of private time in your backyard lounging and playing around.  It is very convenient if you have a pool, but if not just set up some sprinklers and a Slip ‘n Slide!

4. Spend a day at the City Museum and/or the Saint Louis Science Center.

5. Play around at Elephant Rocks and Johnson’s Shut-Ins.  They are very close to one another, so you can do both on the same day!

6. Take advantage of Forest Park-all of it. Swim in the fountains below the World’s Fair Pavilion, walk around in the art and history museums, rent paddle boats, eat at the Boat House, experience the Jewel Box, enjoy the zoo, and top off the day with a show at the Muny.

7. Go on a float trip!  The other weekend we had a fabulous time floating down the Meramec from Old Cove Canoe.  Other nearby float trips include Cherokee LandingTwin Rivers, and Forest 44.

8. Visit Six Flags or Raging Rivers if you desire further amusement.

 

BUG BYTE: There are 176 species of mosquitoes in the United States.  Be sure to protect your family from the dangerous diseases mosquitoes can carry by using a  barrier spray on your property or with the proper use of DEET.

 

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Peanut Butter Perfection

       

[This was written by Rachel, a guest blogger interning at Mosquito Squad this summer.]

Peanut butter is one of my all time favorite substances.  It is delicious when eaten by the spoonful and also has the ability to make other foods taste 1,000 times better.  Of course, it isn’t the lightest food out there, but it is so filling that I argue it is worth the calories and saturated fat.  And hey, it has protein and is low carb! So there.

Here I am focusing on two categories of peanut butter consumption. The first one involves using peanut butter to make something healthy taste much more exciting, whereas the second category is all about adding peanut butter to foods that are already very indulgent.

5 ways to combine peanut butter with healthy food:

1.  FRUIT—Spread peanut butter on the entire length of a banana and then slice the banana.  Eat the pieces with a fork to feel sophisticated.

2.  FRUIT+VEGGIES—Scoop 2 tablespoons of peanut butter into a bowl and use it as carrot or apple dip.

3.  PROTEIN+FRUIT—Spoon 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt into a blender.  Add one sliced or mashed banana, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.  This delicious chocolate PB banana smoothie is low in sugar and packed with protein.

4. PROTEIN—Spread peanut butter on a piece of fat free bologna.  Roll up the piece of bologna and eat it.  Sure, bologna is heavily processed, but if you’re trying to avoid carbs then this is a very smart and satisfying snack!

5. FIBER—I might be the only person in the world who loves peanut butter enough to do this, but sometimes when I eat Kashi Peanut Peanut Butter bars I make them more palatable by spreading peanut butter on top of them.  Some may call that excessive.  I call it consistent.

5 ways peanut butter can take indulgent foods to the next level of decadence:

1.  CHOCOLATE—mix peanut butter with chocolate chips.  I usually use a 1 to 1 ratio of chocolate to peanut butter, but to each her own.

2.  ICE CREAM—use vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, or any other type of ice cream that you deem a good match for peanut butter (disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for ruining your bowl of strawberry ice cream).  For each scoop of ice cream, add a spoonful of peanut butter.  Now use a sturdy metal spoon to stir the peanut butter into the scoop of ice cream.  It will be slow going at first, especially if the ice cream starts out really cold.  Eventually the consistency will become slightly thinner like soft serve and the peanut butter will completely mix in.  Enjoy your peanut butter soft serve ice cream!  The wonderful thing about it is you can add as much PB as you please!

3.  S’MORES—Spread peanut butter onto one of the graham crackers before encasing the marshmallow and chocolate.  The warmth of the roasted marshmallow will melt the peanut butter.  YUM!

4.  BROWNIES—Technically the peanut butter could be added during the baking process or used as frosting.  I enjoy the challenge of baking it into the brownie.  You have to very deliberately spoon it out in a swirly pattern without letting it sink all the way to the bottom or clump up in huge blobs.  Regardless of whether you bake the PB into the brownie or add it after the fact, your brownies will thank you.

5.  WAFFLES—This is my favorite creation to eat in the morning.  You make a waffle,  spread peanut butter on top of the entire thing, and then drizzle maple syrup all over.  The peanut butter melts and the maple syrup really brings out the flavor, causing this combination to taste like freshly baked peanut butter cookies.

Well, those are all of my PB secrets.  I recommend using JIF regular creamy peanut butter for all of the aforementioned delicacies because it is my personal favorite, but of course you should use whichever variety of peanut butter tastes best to you.  If you are trying to be as health conscious and natural as possible, then I highly recommend grinding your own peanuts at Whole Foods and then salting it yourself depending on your taste preference and health needs.  I advise avoiding varieties of peanut butter that are reduced fat or reduced calories because the manufacturers usually add in other (often unnatural) ingredients to make up for the reduction.

Find Your Farmer!

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Summertime and the EATIN’ is easy…

…thanks to the dedicated farmers that bring their fresh, locally grown produce right into our neighborhoods.  It couldn’t be any easier to make sustainable food choices with so many fantastic farmers’ markets scattered throughout Greater Saint Louis!  Check out the table below for current information about the local markets.

I personally frequent Soulard, Clayton, Kirkwood, and Webster Groves Farmers’ Markets.

Soulard is special because it is HUGE, has a permanent structure, and is open year-round on Fridays and Saturdays (and Wednesdays and Thursdays May through September).  This is the best market to visit if you’re looking to get all of your groceries from local farmers.  There is an extensive meat and cheese selection, and if you get hungry while you are there you can make a stop for peanuts, donuts, or a full-blown meal.

I go to Clayton Farmers’ Market because there are wonderful fruit stands as well as several quality baked goods vendors.  On top of these typical farmers’ market items, Clayton also lures in the crowd with Straub’s BBQ, Belgian waffles, farm sandwiches and fresh tea and coffee!!!  Take your kids—this time it is socially acceptable for them to be eating as you continue to shop for food…

Kirkwood Farmers’ Market stands out because it is open every day of the week.   And, Saturdays at Kirkwood outdo Saturdays at the other markets thanks to the live music at 10am in June, July, and August.  AND Kirkwood has Tro-Mo (“Tropical Moose Shaved Ice” for those of you who aren’t abbreviation-crazed teens).

Webster Groves Farmers’ Market is truly a community center.  Of course their mission is to promote healthy eating and locally grown foods, but your kids won’t even realize that they are becoming sustainability champions as they enjoy “Kids at the Market” on Thursday nights.

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Tick…Tick…Tick…BOOM!

Ticks are proving to be a prolific pest this year in St. Louis because of our mild winter and lack of frost this spring. Over the last month I have had at least 30 people call with concerns about ticks compared with three people the last two years! Ticks might be little, but they pack a mighty punch. There is reason for concern: Ticks carry serious diseases for humans AND pets like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, STARI and Erhlichiosis. The CDC’s website offers extensive information on these tick-borne illnesses.

The three most prevalent ticks in Missouri are deer ticks, lone star ticks and American dog ticks. They live in moist, humid environments especially near wooded and grassy areas, so after being in these areas be sure to check yourself, children and pets for ticks.

Ticks are often found in these areas of the body:

  • Under the Arms
  • Around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Around the hairline and scalp
  • Between the legs

Removing Ticks
The quicker a tick can be removed, the less of a chance for infection. Most infection occurs when ticks are attached for at least 24 hours.

To remove an attached tick, wearing latex gloves use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out. Be sure not to twist the body. Be careful not to break the tick. Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol. Use rubbing alcohol to kill the tick by soaking it in a container. If you encounter a nest of seed ticks (tick larvae) quickly remove clothing and bathe in warm soapy water. It’s possible to encounter thousands of these little creatures at one time!

Remember the 5 Ps for Tick Protection:

PRUNE: Prune all tree branches and shrubs away from the edge of the lawn and place a path of wood chips, mulch or gravel between woods and lawn. Remove as much honeysuckle as possible from your property. Honeysuckle is an invasive, noxious plant that provides nesting areas for animals that carry ticks like deer and rodents.

PITCH: Pitch any leaf litter or yard debris before ticks can settle in and make a home.

PREVENT: Prevent deer (which carry ticks) from gathering in your yard by eliminating deer food sources like groundcovers.

PROVIDE: Provide children with vegetation free play areas. Place play equipment on a bed of mulch or wood chips.

PROTECT: Protect your family and pets with a professional barrier spray program that eliminates adult ticks. Apply DEET bug repellent if you are going in the woods or other areas where ticks are present. Apply Frontline Plus or Advantix to dogs to keep ticks from attaching to them. Mosquito Squad can also protect your yard with tick tubes. Visit MosquitoSquad.com to read more about them.

BUG BYTE: One tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs! 

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!

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!

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!