- Author: Dustin Blakey
I've noticed as I get older my Christmas wish list gets less interesting and more practical. I have to work harder now to think of fun stuff. Instead I end up with great ideas like silverware. I know I'm not alone.
So what do you get that special someone who insists on a practical gift?
As I was looking for ideas for my wife—a poster child for gifts practical and boring—I discovered that many people give pillows as Christmas gifts. At first I thought that was weird, but then I remembered that last year she gave me a fancy, hypoallergenic, contouring pillow. It's very comfy. Maybe I should return the favor?
This ultimately led me down the Google Search Rabbit Hole where I soon encountered dire warnings about dust mites.
As a county agent in Arkansas, I encountered dust mite complaints a few times a year. Most of the time it was a case of delusory parasitosis, but sometimes it appeared to be a legitimate complaint, especially in wet years when conditions for their growth were favorable.
House dust mites are microscopic mites that feed on dead skin. They may be allergenic or asthma-inducers to some individuals. There is a large amount of scary information about them, but the truth is most people will have little to worry about from house dust mites.
House dust mites thrive in warm, high-humidity environments. Judging from the condition of my skin right now, I'd say that I am located in the polar opposite of a high-humidity environment. Locations that experience seasonal dry spells with low humidity (think: Eastern California) have a hard time maintaining large populations of house dust mites. These mites prefer climates like the Southeast US where the air feels more liquid than gaseous. In California, they are most commonly found along the coast.
In most of the western US, you probably have little to worry about. You would do better focusing on earthquake preparedness instead of these microscopic detritivores. (Google that instead of dust mites if you're bored. It's much more helpful.)
If you are still concerned about house dust mites—because who isn't after reading about them?—there are a few easy measures that will control or avoid the problem with things you already have. Reducing inside humidity below 50% will help. Heaters and air conditioners* both lower relative humidity. Pick whichever seems appropriate.
Frequent vacuuming of suspect furniture, rugs, and fabrics will reduce mite populations by reducing food sources. This is especially helpful for pet owners. Mattresses and pillows can be encased in protective covers if you are one to err on the safe side and have extra money to spend; however, many pillows (or their cases) can be washed. Mattresses can be vacuumed, too. Mites or not, this is just a good way to keep things clean.
You do not need to use any fancy, hi-tech control gimmicks or pesticides you may find on the internet.
All this to say: if you want to get your spouse a new pillow this holiday season, get one based on comfort and be wary of diving too deeply into pointless online searches like I did.
Or you could just play it safe and get some new silverware. Just don't forget to wash it before using.
* Not swamp/evaporative coolers, but you wouldn't be using those in a humid environment anyway.
For more information on house dust mites, consider clicking on these exciting links:
- Author: Dustin Blakey
Recently brown marmorated stink bugs (Haylomorpha halys) were found in Inyo and Mono counties. This invasive pest from Asia is relatively new to our area. Its first sighting was in Bishop last year.
We have plenty of species of stink bugs on the east side, but this one is especially annoying because it tends to aggregate in large numbers and will attempt to get inside homes and structure to avoid cold weather. As our temperatures return to more normal ranges, I would expect more issues with home ingress.
We have had reports from Swall Meadows down to Big Pine, and possibly an isolated case in Olancha. My hunch is they arrived from northern California, not down south, but there is no way to tell for sure.
As of now, most stink bugs you will encounter are not BMSB. You can identify this pest by a couple notable features: like many stink bugs it is brown, but it has white bands on its antennae and has alternating white and dark coloration on its abdomen. It also has rounded shoulders; similar species in our area have pointed shoulders.
Spraying adult stink bugs doesn't do much good. The best course of action is to ensure your homes are sealed up well so they can't get in.
If these bugs do come inside, they can be trapped easily. (Squishing them is just messy and smelly. Trapping is a better choice.) Here is a video from Virginia Tech showing a good way to trap them.
They can also be vacuumed up. Here is what UC IPM suggests you do:
An efficient way to collect stink bugs indoors is by sucking them up with a dry or wet vacuum. The bugs will cause the collection canister or bag and other parts of the vacuum to give off an unpleasant stink bug odor, so some people dedicate a vacuum cleaner to stink bug capture only. Alternatively, a nylon stocking can be stuffed inside the tube and securing the end over the outside of the vacuum tube with a rubber band; this way, bugs are collected in the stocking and not the vacuum cleaner bag. Individual stink bugs can be brushed off into a cut-off plastic bottle containing an inch of soapy water, where they will drown in a short period of time. If needed, the container can be fastened to a pole or broom handle to reach high locations. Stink bugs caught live also can be placed inside a plastic sealable bag and then into a freezer for 2 days to kill them. To conserve water, avoid flushing them down the toilet and avoid placing live stink bugs in the garbage so they do not become established around landfills.
Hopefully this will just be a minor nuisance for us, and nothing more.
- Author: Amy Weurdig
It's been awhile since I attempted gardening any kinds of vegetables out in the Mesa after the initial year of failures.
I thought hard about putting in raised beds closer to the house, maybe putting in a pest deterrent fence around it.
I've had some fun and a lot of success having my garden at the Bishop Community Garden, so why would I want to garden at home? Well, it'd be great to just pick what I needed for the meal right then, rather than planning on it ahead of time and driving the 11 miles into town. Not very eco-friendly to keep driving back and forth to get a tomato!
So this year, we had some left over tomato starts and I acquired a six pack of habanero peppers that I decide to try out in a trug – you know one of those rubbery garden buckets. The idea being that the trug would elevate the plants enough that the critters couldn't reach them – like a raised bed.
Fast forward 3 weeks: the plants looked pretty good. Had some crazy windy, cold, rainy weather for a couple weeks,but the plants still looked good. Then one evening I went out to water and found stumps.
All my plants were stumps. Cleanly eaten with no evidence at all other than the stumps.
So, my test showed that if I should do raised beds, they need to be at least 3' feet off the ground, enclosed in a wire cage, in order to see any fruits of my labor.
Here is the moral of my story: I'll keep my plot at the Community Garden where I get to see my friends, pull weeds, and pick my veggies free of pepper-eating varmints.