Q: I left the lid open during our recent rain and collected 8 inches of water in our green-waste container! I’ve also added water from our shower with a 5-gallon bucket as we’ve been collecting it since last summer; it takes 3 gallons before it gets hot. I keep the lid on the 90-gallon green-waste container. Do you see any problems with doing this? The green-waste material is minimum this time of year, and we water our landscaped plants and potted plants with this water. – Darrell Kaff, Roseville
A: Congratulations on your water collection efforts! The biggest issue right now is keeping mosquitoes out of your saved water.
Just closing the lid is not enough (although it’s important). Even with a lid, those critters still can get inside to breed. You should take some additional precautions such as placing a fine-mesh screen over the water in the container or adding a mosquito larvicide that won’t harm you or your plants.
Mosquitoes lay and hatch their eggs in standing water. Recent warm weather has pushed mosquito mamas into overdrive, according to the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. Your water container could be the home of thousands of mosquito larvae. With West Nile Virus still a threat, this becomes more than a nuisance; it’s a health and safety issue.
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To keep your water safe, monitor the surface regularly for mosquito larvae (“wigglers”). If you spot some, get rid of them. Consider adding aquatic oil or a mosquito larvicide to your container. Aquatic oil, which contains mineral oil with a small amount of spreading agent, forms a film across the water surface that suffocates the mosquitoes. Larvicides such as Mosquito Dunks (available at home centers) can be added to the water while keeping it safe for plants. Mosquito Dunks contain BTI, a natural bacteria toxic only to mosquito larvae that lasts 30 days.
For more tips, click on www.FightTheBite.net.