The Great Mosquito Hack of the Summer of ’22

Mosquitoes. Love. ME.

This post is for you if:

  • mosquitoes love you, too
  • you hate having to use Mosquito Joe to manage these pests because you suspect there is collateral damage to beneficial insects, but you hate mosquitoes more
  • you hate to wear bug spray and socks, a long-sleeve shirt, and pants in the middle of summer whenever you weed your garden
  • you worry about diseases spread by mosquitoes

I am very thankful for the day my delightful naturalist friend, Joanna Brichetto, posted a story on her blog, Sidewalk Nature, called The Mosquito Bucket of Doom. It is about a bee-friendly, vegetable garden-friendly, pet-friendly way to eliminate mosquitos in your yard.

I’m here to tell you Joanna’s mosquito control system really WORKS. I’m such a believer; I show everyone who visits my yard my buckets. And, now I’m showing YOU!

How to Make a Mosquito Bucket

Ingredients:
a  5-gallon bucket, a planter, or any container with a wide top
a few handfuls of grass clippings (leaves work but take longer to decompose)
water
a package of Mosquito Dunks® (a larvicide)

Instructions:
Add 3-4 handfuls of grass or other yard clippings to a container of your choice.
.

Half-fill the container with water. As the organic matter decomposes, it produces carbon dioxide, which attracts female mosquitoes. Add a Dunk® and place the bucket in a sunny location. Thirty days later, add a newDunk®. I buy packages that contain 20 Dunk®s online.

I have four buckets in my half-acre backyard. They are scattered among my vegetable garden beds, the chicken coop,

and one, prettier than the others, is located on the patio.

Testimonials
We hosted my son’s rehearsal dinner in our backyard in the middle of July with just four buckets for mosquito control and never saw a skeeter.

I volunteer at a community garden near a floodplain with many mosquitoes. I brought supplies to make two buckets and showed the residents how to set the system up. We placed the containers on opposite ends of the garden for adequate coverage. We inspected the yard for sources of standing water and removed them. Two weeks later, while working in the gardens, we happily realized the mosquitoes were GONE!.

How Does the Mosquito Bucket Work?

Mosquito Dunks® work by killing mosquito larvae, interrupting the insect’s reproduction cycle. It does not kill adult insects of any variety, just the larvae of mosquitoes using the bucket for their next generations’ production.

Joanna Brichetto is quick to point out that she learned about the buckets from famed etymologist Dr. Doug Tallamy. Here is a link to his short video explanation.

Mosquitoes need water to breed. They only need ¼-inch of standing water to successfully lay eggs. It takes a few days for the eggs to hatch into the little swimmers you see in the photo below. Joanna permitted me to use this photo because she is passionate about protecting the environment. “Yes, of course!” she replied when asked, “The more buckets, the better!”

Dr. Tallamy says the best way to control mosquitoes is to interrupt the growth cycle of their larvae. These swimmers eat a mosquito-specific toxin, B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis) spore found in Dunks® that prevent them from maturing. Furthermore, Dr. Tallamy says broad spraying of insecticides kills only about 10% of adult mosquitoes and many other insects. Thus, the mosquito bucket method is more specific and effective.

If you came by my house this summer, chances are I sent you home with a Dunk® or two. Like my friend Joanna, I feel the more people who know about the mosquito buckets, the happier they will be outdoors, and the more beneficial insects will be available to do insect work, like pollinating flowers across the city.

Thank you, Joanna; you gave our family a mosquito-free summer without much fuss and chemicals.

Related Stories:
Joanna recently appeared in a Nashville Public Television Volunteer Gardener episode called Natives in Plain Sight. You can follow her on Instagram at jo_brichetto and on her blog, Sidewalk Nature.

Putting Your Garden to Bed with a Blanket of Cover Crops

How to Start Seeds in a Recycled Milk Jug

Edible Landscaping with Nashville Foodscapes

How to Build a 4 x 4 Raised Garden Bed

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.
If you enjoyed this post, share it, and sign up to become a follower. If you do sign-up, press “confirm” on the follow-up letter sent to your email address. 

© 2014-2022 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may not be reproduced without the written consent of Judy Wright.

Asteraceae: My Favorite Family of Pollinator Plants

Warning: Reading this may lead to a fondness for dandelions.

What do these flowers have in common?

Zinnias

Sunflowers

Cosmos

Marigolds

Asters

Goldenrod

Dandelions

Artichokes

Artichokes?

I’ll give you a hint, the artichoke is a bud! If left to mature on the plant, it will produce hundreds of purple, narrow-tubed flowers cradled in one base.

These flowering plants are all part of the Asteraceae Family.

Plants are placed in families based on characteristics they share. These flower heads are all round and have a flat central disc. While each flower appears to be a single flower, all Asteraceae flowers are actually a composite of many small flowers, each with their own reproductive parts, packed densely into one receptacle.

The flowers in the center disc are called disc florets and those surrounding it are ray florets.

As beautiful as flowers are to us humans, flowers are trying to impress insects and birds. Pollination is the primary objective of a flower. Once pollination happens, the flower withers and dies. Pollination activates the fertilization of seeds, ensuring reproduction of the plant. Both ray and disc florets have all the necessary reproductive parts.

Another feature of plants in the Asteraceae family is their sepal-like leaves, called bracts, on the flower head’s underside. Bracts surround and protect the base of the plant where the seeds mature. They are arranged in either an overlapping or a linear pattern.
 

 

I took a few bracts off to see the seeds beneath — they are packed in there!

Rings of new disc florets emerge gradually in an orderly fashion from the disc’s outside perimeter to the center. A cone-shaped arrangement forms as the underlying seeds grow larger and require more space. This was a marvelous insight for me; one of the traits we love about zinnias is how long the flowers last. They last that long to ensure that every ovule (pre-seed) gets fertilized.

If you dissect a flower head, you can see the many seeds at various stages of maturation.

A good visual of a composite flower head is the sunflower.

Sunflowers are a bee magnet. We hear a lot about the benefits of growing “pollinator” plants in a garden. You need look no further than plants in the Asteraceae family for colorful flowers that attract insects.

The end result is hundreds of sunflower seeds to eat and ensure reproduction.

Not all Asteraceae plants have both ray and disc florets. A few species have one or the other. Dandelions, for example, are comprised of ray florets only. With my new appreciation of flowering plants, I don’t think I will be as quick to pull dandelions out of my vegetable garden anymore. After all, my Sicilian immigrant grandmothers picked dandelion leaves to eat. The leaves are a good source for vitamin C. During early times, the cool-weather plants were grown in kitchen gardens for settlers to eat to prevent scurvy.

Artichokes are comprised of all disc florets. The bristles that make up the choke are actually hundreds of very immature flowers.

Knowing this, I forevermore will say a prayer of gratitude when I remove those less edible filaments from a stuffed artichoke. For without the choke, we would not get seeds for more artichokes! THAT would be a travesty.

Studying and photographing the unfolding reproductive cycle of flowers in my garden has been a source of joy, a saving grace, and a silver lining of diversion while living through this crazy pandemic. I am grateful to my mother for instilling in me a love of gardening and to Mother Nature for providing everything I need to grow food in my backyard. I hope to inspire others, most especially children, to experience the peace and thrill of planting a seed, watching it grow, and being a witness to the beauty of the natural world.

A moth imbibing in nectar.

If there are cool-weather plants such as asters, cosmos, chickory, or chrysanthemums in your yard, maybe cut one open and see for yourself!

I am grateful to my fellow naturalist and Instagram friend, Rose Marie Trapani, for sending me a flowering artichoke in the MAIL so I could dissect it. That’s a whole ‘nother story! You can follow Rose Marie @oursiciliantable on Instagram.

Related Posts
How to Build a 4 x 4 Raised Garden Bed
Winter Floral Arrangements Using Greenery from the Yard
Lemon Tree Very Pretty
Family Dirt
Edible Landscaping with Nashville Foodscapes

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may not be reproduced without the written consent of Judy Wright.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

If you enjoyed this post, consider becoming a follower. Be sure to press “confirm” on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.