Welcome back to Houston How To, a podcast of the Houston Chronicle.
Humans have an innate urge to improve, and we always strive to live better.
This podcast and our column twice a week wants to simplify that for you.
I'm Gwendolyn Wu, a reporter here at the business desk at the Houston Chronicle.
I write about what you need to know about living in Houston.
Do you hear that
It is the sound of a six-legged vampire who comes to suck your blood.
One of the first things I learned about living in Houston was the city's huge problem with mosquitoes, the gift that keeps biting.
Texas is home to more than 85 species of mosquitoes, according to Texas A&M researchers, many of whom make Bayou City their home. And surprisingly probably nobody, we are the third most infested city in the country. The mosquito season is upon us here in Houston. August and September are the worst absolute months due to high humidity and sudden humid weather, creating a humid environment for reproduction. If you go outside at any time between dusk and dawn, you could even see the creepy little things flying.
In just 10 minutes standing on the balcony of my town's house after dark, he bit me four times. There are several ways to avoid mosquitoes around your home and, believe it or not, they are all natural. And when I say natural, I mean they are things you can do on your own. That means you don't need any of the essential oils of the pyramid scheme and our high school Facebook friend is now selling. Mosquitoes breed in humid environments. Harris County public health officials recommend sweeping storm drain sheets, which will not only starve insects, but also make water disappear faster when it floods.
It is also vital to get standing water from the containers around your home. That means replacing pet bowls with fresh water should be anyway, empty the spare tires if, for some reason, you still have them around and check the pots and buckets for water that has not been properly drained. Do not leave the doors open if you can. Even if your pet has a habit of entering and leaving the house at will. Consider getting home window screens, and even if you already have them, check for cracks or holes. There are some cheap repair kits in retail stores for large home improvements, such as Lowe & # 39; s and Home Depot, that will prevent small mosquitoes and fruit flies from slipping.
The first advice that Harris County public health officials gave me when I called and asked about mosquitoes was to wear light-colored and long-sleeved clothes. It looks like a deadly trap to wear stifling jeans and a long-sleeved button in the humid summer.
But I guess in retrospect, it makes sense. Most workplaces, restaurants and shops have air conditioning to the point of cooling. I personally look forward to guessing that the newsroom of the Houston Chronicle could keep a container of yogurt suitable for consumption due to the cold in this office. People go to work in an air-conditioned car, walk a short distance to the air-conditioned workplace and return home to an air-conditioned residence. It may be better to suffer with a lot of clothes during the few minutes you are out during the day.
But if for some reason those are not all options for you, you can always use insect repellents that contain picaridine, a synthetic chemical that repels insects such as mosquitoes and ticks preventing them from smelling humans. There are also many aerosols with DEET, this yellowish oil that miraculously protects against mosquitoes.
But I learned that some people are quite skeptical about DEET, and researchers have discovered that part of the applied DEET is absorbed through the skin. But those experts and federal public health officials have also concluded that it is not a carcinogen, which means it does not have a correlation or cause of cancer. They say you really should only be tired of DEET if it is used incorrectly, such as swallowing it, putting it in your eyes or leaving it on your skin for too long before taking a bath.
I admit it was one of those skeptics, so I bought a spray containing 30 percent of lemon eucalyptus extract oil. Note here that I say it contains an amount instead of using essential oils of pure lemon eucalyptus. It definitely works. I applied the sprayed lemon and eucalyptus oil before taking my roommate's dog for a walk last weekend, and the only place he bit me was in the collarbone, where stupidly, I hadn't thought about spraying before Let me get the door out. When the instructions say to spray generously and spray every part of your body that is exposed, they mean it.
Keep fans disoriented in mosquito flight patterns. They are quite flimsy and are easily thrown by the wind. You can also make a human version of the man from the inflatable tube by waving his hands sitting on the deck.
It may seem silly, but, hey, if it works, it will keep them away. Do not fall for products that have not been approved by the FDA or have been discredited by scientists as useless for mosquitoes.
You deserve to exist peacefully without fear that something will delight in your face. Some rumored mosquito repellents just don't work. On the one hand, citronella candles are promoted as mosquito control in home improvement stores.
However, a 2017 study by the State University of New Mexico found that they are actually quite useless to avoid them. I could also continue for a while about pure essential oils and how they really don't work. But what you need to know is that many essential oils have not been approved by the FDA for use as an insect repellent. Some citrus and floor oils can cause inflammation or irritation if applied to the skin. Instead, look for lemon eucalyptus extract oil. It is promoted in many natural products.
That is my rant about how to keep mosquitoes away in Houston. As someone who is extremely prone to bites, I have significantly reduced the amount of mosquito bites I receive in a week of the six I received the week after I moved here. Now this week, it's just two annoying ones where I couldn't apply insect repellent.
I can't say that these methods are infallible, but you know, it could be useful for someone who is prone to mosquitoes like me. When a mosquito has a will, it has a way. But these tips are helping me scratch much less.
I can't be the only one with questions about how to live hacking my life in Houston. So, Houston, why are you curious? If you have tips or tricks to improve our lives, I am all ears. Email me at [email protected] And if I use your idea, I could greet you. For more advice, be sure to check the Houston How To column twice a week on the Houston Chronicle website and in print. Follow me on Facebook, Gwendolyn Wu or on Twitter @gwendolynawu. Thanks for listening to Houston How To. Until next time.
Thanks to Eddie Miranda of the Harris County Department of Public Health and Dr. Stephanie Martin of the Texas Children's Health Plan for her contributions to today's How How episode. Thanks to all Kimonos for our music. My editor is Dwight Silverman and Scott Kingsley is the podcast editor of The Chronicle. This episode was edited by Ferril Gibbs, who slapped him to crush that mosquito sound effect.
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