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Creating A Beautiful Home and Garden

When I purchased a home a few years ago, I had no idea what kind of workload I would be faced with. In addition to trying to figure out how to keep the place clean, I was also left with the challenge of tidying up the yard and keeping things trimmed. It was a little overwhelming, but I knew that I could do it with a little hard work and dedication. I started reading a lot of books and blogs about creating gorgeous things for your home and yard, and it was a great creative outlet. This blog is all about exciting, fun ways to make your home and yard even more beautiful.

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Creating A Beautiful Home and Garden

3 Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself From the Zika Virus

by Alyssa Perkins

The media is buzzing right now with coverage of South America's widespread Zika outbreak and the virus's apparent link to a birth defect know as microcephaly. The virus is transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitos, and as travelers return to the United States from affected countries, it's possible that there will be some regions of the country that experience a localized spread of the illness.

Read on to learn three things you can do to help protect yourself and your family from the Zika virus and the mosquitos that carry it.

Cut Back on Watering Your House Plants

Female mosquitoes need to lay their eggs in water, but they don't care if that water is located indoors or outdoors. They prefer stagnant puddles, but they'll settle for any bit of standing water they can find if their options are slim. If your houseplants have drip trays that collect excess water, you very well may have your own little mosquito breeding ground right in your home.

A single female mosquito that makes her way into your home through a cracked window or hole in your screen door could lay over 100 eggs at once in your prized Boston fern's drip tray. If you usually water your houseplants so much so that water accumulates in their pots' drip trays, cut back on how much water you're giving those plants. If water still accumulates in your drip trays, dump that water out once your plants have had a good drink. Another option is to invest in some watering bulbs. Watering bulbs contain water and gradually allow your plants to absorb it as needed.

Aerate Your Yard

Over time, the soil in your yard settles. When it does, its porosity is lessened and rainwater has a more difficult time seeping through it and draining from your lawn. Mosquitoes can desiccate (dry up), so they prefer damp, shady environments. The longer your yard remains wet after a rainstorm, the more inviting it is to mosquitoes and the greater your odds of attracting the Zika virus to your home are.

A relatively easy way to increase your lawn's drainage is to rent or purchase a core aerator. A core aerator removes plugs of grass, roots, and soil from your yard, loosening the earth and creating channels for rainwater to seep down into your subsoil. A quality machine can be rented for as little a $15-$25 an hour from your local lawn and garden store, or you can purchase one for $175-$350. 

If you have any puddle buildup in your yard that can't be fixed by aerating the soil, contact your local pest control service. They may be able to treat standing water locations with an insect growth regulator. These treatments interfere with the growth cycle of mosquitoes, killing most of the eggs, larvae, and pupae in the water before they can make it to adulthood.

Invest in Some Permethrin-Treated Clothing

Permethrin is an FDA-approved insecticide developed for use on clothing. The substance is biodegradable, poses no long-term health effects, and is so effective that the U.S. military has relied on it for more than 20 years to protect soldiers from insect-transmitted diseases.

At a time when the threat of contracting the Zika virus is high, it's a good idea to have a set of permethrin-treated clothes that you can throw on when you'll be outside for an extended period of time. You can purchase permethrin at a sporting goods store and treat your clothes yourself, or you can invest in some factory-dipped permethrin clothing. The self-applied version of permethrin will usually last between four to six washes before it needs to be reapplied. Factory-dipped permethrin clothing can remain effective through 70 washes, and is proven to be more effective against Aedes aegypti mosquitos than self-applied permethrin products.

With the Zika virus spreading rampantly across South America, there's a good chance that some parts of the United States will soon encounter infections. Take the above three steps now to help protect yourself and your family from Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

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