Father’s Day gardening gifts and methods for repelling mosquitoes

A Ron Swanson guide to Father’s Day gifts

Don’t get dad a tie for Sunday, especially if he went to Catholic school and thinks of Purgatory as a place where everyone has to wear a suitcoat and tie on the hottest day of June.

Instead, get dad a flame weeder — a shepherd’s hook-shaped device that shoots a small flame out the business end that cooks sidewalk weeds while Pop stands up, grinning with satisfaction. Yes — it’s a personal sized flamethrower; no man has ever said, “I don’t want one of those!”

Or, bring his inner Ron Swanson all the way out and get him a sledgehammer. I don’t care if he has absolutely no use for a sledgehammer; he wants one! A big heavy thing that carries a great risk of personal injury? Just imagine the smile on his face.

Oooh! Or an ax — an ax would be sweet! Timmmmbbbeeer!

BTI traps are your best skeeter bet in wet weather …

Melanie in Catonsville writes: “At your advice, we’ve been setting mosquito ‘traps’ using BTI in our yard. We started last fall and have continued this spring. But we’ve been soaked by rain upon rain this spring. The recent flood in historic Ellicott City also filled many basements here. Does BTI stand a chance in the face of so much water?”

Yes, Mel. If you keep putting out water laced with the otherwise nontoxic larvicide BTI on your property, “your” female mosquitoes will keep laying eggs in the water that will fail to develop into biting adults. And since females tend to stay close to where they were born (it’s like South Philly), your property will have the lowest possible number of biters.

… but sometimes it takes a village not to raise mosquitoes

However, Melanie worries that the biting pests are just flying in from next door. She continues: “What if our neighbors here in the burbs don’t do anything to prevent breeding? Our yard is once again thick with mosquitoes!”

First, have your gutters checked and cleaned; you may accidentally be breeding skeeters unseen up there.

Second, talk to your nearest neighbors and offer them some of your BTI dunks, or just plain offer to set up traps on their property.

Third, consider spraying your landscape with a professional grade of garlic oil. (Mosquito Barrier is the original, best-researched brand.) Studies have shown garlic oil sprays highly repellent to mosquitoes — and ticks. And the Italian restaurant smell fades after a few hours. Darn.

What to do when the mosquitoes love you

Melanie continues: “The mosquitoes love my daughter — and no amount of lemon eucalyptus seems to deter them!”

Studies have clearly shown that some people are much more attractive to the pests than others, Mel. If your daughter is willing, have her eat some fresh garlic and take Brewer’s yeast every day in an attempt to camouflage her attractive ‘scent’; it’s folklore but it can’t hurt.

Second, buy her a set of permethrin-treated clothing. (Insect Shield originated the technique, and their clothes were just used in a medical study that found the clothing to be highly effective.) The clothes will repel mosquitoes from everywhere on her except exposed skin.

And for that skin …

When Melanie writes: “mosquitoes love my daughter — and no amount of lemon eucalyptus seems to deter them,” she’s referring to Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, the non-DEET repellent that has scored the highest in clinical studies, rivaling fairly high concentrations of DEET itself.

Just remember that any repellent must cover every inch of exposed skin and that — despite a recent “outdoor entertaining and decorating” article in The Post — things like herbal bracelets do not work. Those gadgets have failed every scientific test, as has Avon’s Skin so Soft. (Sorry.)

But catnip does work. Studies rank catnip right up there with oil of lemon eucalyptus. Look for it in herbal products and alternate its use with lemon eucalyptus.

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