The Best in Mosquito Elimination


Ready, Set, Pick.

The apple harvest has commenced!  Get your buckets ready—farmers are gradually opening up their apple orchards for picking.  Due to our absurdly hot summer, all of the crops are ripening earlier than usual.  There are plenty of apple-picking orchards encircling Greater St. Louis, including:

Eckert’s Farm– Belleville, IL, Millstadt, IL, and Grafton, IL

Centennial Farms– Augusta, MO

Mills Apple Farm– Marine, IL

Thierbach Orchards & Berry Farm– Marthasville, MO

Each farm will begin harvesting their precious apples at different times, so if you want to go on a picking spree just make sure to confirm with the farm that the orchards are ready for you.  Happy picking!

 

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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.

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!

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!

Is St. Louis Southern?

With the warm sunshine and the dogwoods and redbuds blooming everywhere, St. Louis is giving off a southern vibe. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina and when I got married and moved to St. Louis, you would have thought I was moving to a foreign country called “The Midwest.” Southerners don’t understand why you would ever live anywhere other than south of the Mason-Dixon line! (Here is where I tell you, though, that I LOVE St. Louis).

The other day, I was reading an article in Southern Living titled “40 Things Every Southerner Ought to Do!” (For the record I’ve done 34 of those things). I was pleasantly surprised to see 3 must-dos are right here in St. Louis! # 21 Enjoy a frozen treat at Ted Drewes. #23 Go to the top of the Arch. #39 Stroll through the Missouri Botanical Garden. Does this mean Southern Living considers St. Louis part of the South? Did I actually never leave “home?”

Aside from the often disputed Missouri secession from the Union in 1861, I actually think there is some southern charm to St. Louis. People are so friendly. Lilly Pulitzer runs rampant in the summer. The houses in Webster Groves look like they could have been plucked from Mayberry (the fictional town in The Andy Griffith Show) with the wonderful front porches ready for some rocking chairs and glass bottled co-colas.  And we’re definitely not short on peonies, daylilies, hydrangeas and lilacs. Shoot…I have a 50 foot Southern Magnolia 10 feet from my front door! You should smell those blossoms in May. And did I mention that we finally have Chick-Fil-A?

Unfortunately (or fortunately in some opinions) that’s not enough to make St. Louis “officially” southern. Instead of kudzu we have honeysuckle. My kids’ friends (and actually my kids, too) think I’m a crazy mom for making my girls say “yes ma’am and no sir.” Where in the heck can I find sweet tea, fried okra, vinegar based barbeque, and hush puppies? (The Cracker Barrel doesn’t count). But most of all, St. Louis lacks that endearing Southern drawl. And the fact that when trying to get the attention of her older sisters, my 3 year old just hollered out “you guys” the other night instead of “y’all” is proof in the banana pudding that St. Louis is part of that country called “The Midwest!”

I would love to hear about the southern things you see in St. Louis. And for my southern friends, I ask the question, “What makes the South southern?”

Whether southern or not, one thing’s for sure. Mosquitoes LOVE calling St. Louis home. So if these annoying pests are ruining your good time, give us a call. 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!

Celebrate the Warm Weather at Missouri’s Vineyards.

 

With the warmer weather finally moving in, add some excitement to your life by visiting one of  Missouri’s beautiful vineyards. Located in the picturesque rolling hills outside of St. Louis, these unique vineyards are great places for weddings, reunions, birthday parties and just plain fun with your friends.

 Sugar Creek Vineyard and Winery in Defiance is owned by a wonderful family who works hard every day of the week to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. The Millers are a family who understand that a good wine begins with the grape and ends with the people who pour it in your glass. Join them in the cozy parlor and tasting room of their turn-of-the-century Victorian home/visitor center, and they will make you feel special. Or on a warm day soak up the sun on their wine terrace listening to live music.

Right down the road is Chandler Hill Vineyards, a must-see because of its exquisite surroundings. Offering fine dining (with wines from their California and Missouri vineyards) and live events, you are sure to have a great time. The spectacular view from the 4500 sf wine deck of the wildlife-laden Missouri valley is nothing short of majestic.

         

As always, Mosquito Squad’s mission is to help make your outdoor living experiences wonderful. We promise that a day in the vineyards will be a day you remember for a long time.

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).

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