Florida is home to a number of species that many may view as a pest. Growing up many kids learn the three A’s of Florida wildlife – Alligators, Ants, and A whole lot of mosquitos. And although we cannot provide much information on the prevention of the first one, we do know a lot about ants and mosquitos from a lawncare perspective.
Florida is home to around 200 species of ants but only a handful are the pests we think of when we think of ants.
- Carpenter Ant: Usually will burrow into soft, wet wood but if needed they will borrow into solid wood. Carpenter Ants do not eat the wood like termites but rather remove the wood to make space for their nest.
- Pharaoh Ant: Commonly found in hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, apartment buildings, or other warm, busy indoor area. Can pose a threat in hospitals because they are capable of spreading Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus infections.
- Pavement Ant: Will typically form their nest in the cracks of driveways and sidewalks. Have been known to infest buildings.
- Red Imported Fire Ant: Form large mounds of a nest and common sight in untreated Florida yards. Give a painful sting that some may be allergic to and leaves behind an itchy postule. Fire ants will creep indoors through any available cracks or holes.
Carpenter and Pavement ants are more of a nuisance while Pharaoh and Fire ants pose more of a health threat. Whichever may be plaguing you may be the result of your landscaping. Damp or rotting wood that may be left from a fallen tree or long forgotten fire wood can provide a home to many types of ants and other bugs. Overgrown bushes and shrubbery provide a direct pathway for ants to get into your home, even if you routinely spray for bugs.
You can prevent ant infestation by keeping your plants well-trimmed and planted a safe distance from the walls of your home.
Many Floridians joke that the mosquito is the state bird because mosquitos are as commonplace as sand in the panhandle state. Did you know that with the right landscaping you could fend off mosquitos with little work on your part, with the exception of planting.
The main ingredient in most insect repellents is Citronella. The strong smell of this plant is able masks the smell of what attracts mosquitos and can repel mosquitos from the area with its strong odor. Citronella is a perennial that does best in sunny areas with good drainage. It can be kept potted or planted throughout your yard for optimal coverage.
The best part of Marigolds is that they serve aesthetic purposes as well as practical ones. Marigolds, like Citronella plants, emit an odor that is offensive to mosquitos. Spruce up an entryway or patio with this pretty plant and still be able to enjoy your evenings outside.
With Basil plants, you can spice up your Italian food dishes while fending off mosquitos. Basil is toxic to mosquito larvae, making it the perfect plant to keep near water sources (where mosquitos frequently lay their eggs) such as ponds, bird baths, or areas prone to puddles.
- Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm gives and takes away; meaning you can rid yourself of mosquitos but you may attract more bees (and butterflies) as Lemon Balm is a pollinator. Both bees and butterflies happen to be two of the five animals that the human species cannot live without. Bees are essential to the human food supply as they help pollinate the plants we primarily use as a food source (and have recently been listed as an endangered species). Butterflies have been linked with climate change forecasting, so the tradeoff is environmentally beneficial. Lemon Balm is drought resistant but a fast growing plant and it is recommended that you pot this plant unless you want it to overtake your yard.
Careful planting this plant or your yard may look like a rescue home for stray cats. Catnip is known to repel mosquitos from a limited distance, a range that is increased if the leaves are picked and crushed.
Lavender plants emit a wonderful smell for humans that can aid in relaxation and restfulness while warding off mosquitos. They are perfect to plant or keep in pots around your porch or back patio