The threat of West Nile virus continues to be a major concern in the greater Sacramento area. This has been a terrible mosquito year in several California counties, too.
We're not alone. Biting bugs have been very active nationwide.
To help keep them at bay, several new products were introduced this summer. Since we live close to the Sacramento River, we tested several insect deterrents near our home, plus on treks to the mountains.
Just in time for Labor Day weekend get-togethers, here are some products that worked well:
BugBand wristbands ($4.95) by BugBand: In sizes for all ages, these handy DEET-free and BPA-free bands use all-natural ingredients to ward of mosquitoes, house flies, stable flies, horn flies, cockroaches, fire ants, fleas, gnats, dog ticks and no-see-ums for up to 120 hours. They worked for an extended weekend in the mountains not one bite. These bracelets look similar to commemorative wristbands and are offered in seven colors (including fluorescent-white). Available at www.bugband.net and retailers.
BugBand travel-size spray lotion ($4.95) from BugBand: This 3-ounce bottle is just the right size for backpacks or purses. The same bug-fighting solution is available in towel- ettes and an indoor-outdoor diffuser, also from www.bugband.net.
OFF! Botanicals Spritz ($7.99) from SC Johnson: This plant-based repellent keeps biting bugs and mosquitoes away (plus, it has aloe vera to soothe skin irritation). A no-mess application is effective against mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ums and ticks for about two hours and it smelled good, too.
OFF! Clip-On mosquito repellent ($3.99) from SC Johnson: Don't like lotions or sprays? Clipped onto a belt or waistband, this battery- powered fan circulates an odorless repellent. Within minutes, it creates head-to-toe protection for up to 12 hours. (It did feel a little geeky wearing it, but that beats bites.)
Twist-It ($5.99) from PIC Pest Free Living: Creating a 10-foot-wide no-bite zone, this all-natural mosquito repellent comes in a coil that wraps around poles, table legs, bike handlebars, stroller handles or other items, and lasts about 200 hours. It's like an extra-long-lasting citronella candle without the flame and more portable.
Bugables ($3.99) from PIC Pest Free Living: Packed with essential oils, geraniol, lemongrass and citronella, these are handy stickers that can be applied to hats, clothing or bags and keep working for up to 72 hours. They're great for kids and kind of cute while fighting bites.
The best advice during mosquito season comes from the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District's website, www.FighttheBite.net. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so try to avoid them if you can.
According to vector control, the most effective deterrent against mosquitoes: long sleeves and long pants.
September starts another season in the vegetable garden. Now is the time to plant for fall. Warm soil gets seedlings off to a quick start.
Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.
Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, as well as lettuce seedlings.
Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant to stretch out the summer harvest for a few more weeks.
Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies. Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, cyclamen, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.
Divide and replant bearded iris and other rhizomes and bulbs. Also, divide and replant perennials such as Shasta daisies.
September is the ideal month to sow a new lawn or reseed bare spots.