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Tips on handling a garden’s most dangerous insects


February 17, 2009
By Dean Fosdick The Associated Press

Feb. 17, 2009 – “Look, listen and run'' may be the best advice for people in regions
colonized by Africanized honeybees. Here are some other steps to ease
the threat of stings and ailments transmitted by bees, fire ants, ticks
and mosquitoes.

“Look, listen and run'' may be the best advice for people in regions colonized by Africanized honeybees. Here are some other steps to ease the threat of stings and ailments transmitted by bees, fire ants, ticks and mosquitoes.

Africanized honey bees:

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-Have an escape route in mind if attacked by swarms while hiking or working outdoors. Take shelter in a building or vehicle.

-Invite other pollinators into your yard by adding nectar-rich plants to the landscape. Areas foraged by managed European honeybees are less inviting to their grumpier African cousins.

-Do not try to remove suspect bee colonies yourself; call an exterminator.

-Opinions are divided about whether you should place pollinator attractors such as bee condominiums in your yard. Jerry Hayes, chief of the Florida Department of Agriculture's Apiary Section, says mason bee houses aren't a problem. But Michael O'Malley, program director of the University of Florida's Honey Bee Research and
Extension Laboratory, says he would probably discourage the practice “because the wild population of honey bees, especially in South Florida, would be Africanized bees.''

-Power equipment such as lawnmowers, chain saws and string cutters disturb Africanized bees and may trigger an attack.

Imported fire ants:

-Watch your step. Learn to recognize probable nesting sites and steer clear.

-Wear protective clothing, particularly boots.

-Control fire ants when they appear in areas frequented by people, pets or livestock. Use bait products that the ants carry back to their nests.

Disease-carrying ticks:

-Early detection. Inspect your body and clothing frequently. Also inspect your children and pets. Wear light-coloured garments so you can see any ticks more easily. Tuck pants into socks to prevent ticks from gaining access to your body.

-Use pesticides and repellents judiciously. Spray them on boots and clothing.

West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes:

Observe “the Five D's'”:

-Dusk until dawn. Limit your time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.

-Drain any standing water where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

-Dress appropriately. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in mosquito and tick country.

-Doors and barriers. Repair or install screens on windows and doors to prevent biting insects from entering.

-DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Apply insect repellent containing DEET if you plan to be outdoors for long.


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