A Better Way to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Getting rid of mosquitoes doesn’t have to involve deadly chemicals or the latest expensive gimmick. Effective control is a combination of vigilance, personal repellent and using the right products to target specific areas.

Garlic barrier, commonly sold as Mosquito Barrier, has been used for years in agriculture to repel insects from crops and even keep birds from eating tree fruits. It works by overwhelming the mosquito’s sensory system which is 10,000 times more finely tuned than ours. Once the product is dry, you can’t smell it, but they sure can – and they can’t stand it! As it is not a contact pesticide like other backyard sprays, it is safe for beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Easy to apply

Sold as a liquid concentrate, garlic barrier is 95-99% garlic with a natural sulfer compound that repels mosquitoes and other pests. There are three easy steps to mix and apply.

  • Dilute the concentrate with water according to the label in a clean pump sprayer that has not held herbicides or “weed and feed.”
  • Pressurize the container by pumping and apply to shrubs, trees, fences and other structures around the perimeter of your yard. Spray as high as you can reach and avoid coating flowers.
  • Reapply after it rains or after 30 days, whichever comes first.

This can be a great tool to use ahead of a pool party, family barbeque, or to simply enjoy your yard free from pesky bloodsuckers.

As this is a barrier at the edge of your yard, make sure you don’t have any sneaky water sources within the perimeter that are breeding mosquitoes. Keep in mind, many common culprits are out of of sight. Do you have any of the following?

  • French drains
  • Gutters with leaf debris
  • A water meter box that gets flooded by rain or irrigation
  • Plant saucers
  • Toys, tarps or bags of potting soil that collect water

Address these first so you aren’t trapping mosquitoes within your property.

For other easy ways to mosquito-proof your patio – check out this two-part series.

For more information on keeping mosquitoes out of your backyard, check out thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/mosquitoinfo. To report a mosquito problem, contact the Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800.

Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge

Last year over 100 homes in The Woodlands registered their garden or yard as a “Pollinator Garden.” Join your neighbors this year in providing much-need support for pollinators by registering with the Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge. This village challenge aims to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and how habitat creation supports their populations.

Many pollinators – bees, moths, butterflies, beetles and more have experienced a drastic decline the last few decades due to pesticides, herbicides and loss of habitat. Fortunately, each of us can play a role in turning this situation around. Our suburban yards are prime real estate for feeding and sheltering pollinators!

A registered garden provided the basic needs of pollinators, including food, shelter and water in a chemical-free zone. Don’t worry if you think your garden might not qualify. The garden registration form helps you put the necessary components in place, whether you’re starting from scratch or making a few additions to an established garden. You’ll find easy-to-follow guidelines, such as offering nectar-producing (flowering) plants for each season, leaving some patches of bare ground for burrowing insects, supplying a water source (bird baths work great) and providing host plants so insects can lay eggs. Native plant lists are included to help with any shopping.

Registration received from June 1, 2021 through December 1, 2021 count towards the 2021 Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge. Each registration earns a point for your village association. Program sponsors, The Woodlands GREEN and Project PolliNation, will donate funds to the three village associations with the most points for their scholarship program.

Did you register last year? Complete this form and share what additional steps you took in creating a habitat for pollinators.

The village challenge is just one part of the Township’s Plant for Pollinators Program, a community-wide effort to support our pollinator populations. Distribution of native milkweed to the public, installation of pollinator gardens in parks and schools, and educational outreach are a few of the others. Check out the Plant for Pollinators webpage or contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department to learn more and get involved.

Check out these past articles to learn more about local pollinators. 


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

It’s the Year of the Sunflower: 2021

Year of the Sunflower

Easy to grow, healthy to eat and uplifting to see, sunflowers enhance our life. After the challenges of 2020, The National Garden Bureau has named 2021 “The Year of the Sunflower.” It’s almost impossible not to smile, relax and think of sunny days when you’re in their presence.

In fact, sunflowers earned their common name because their faces follow the sun from east to west each day.

These engaging flowers are so easy to start from seed that transplants aren’t needed. Purchase a packet of seeds, select a spot with full sun (6-8 hours daily) and plant directly in the ground about an inch deep and a foot apart (the flowers grow tall and narrow). New plants need regular watering for a couple of weeks, but since sunflowers are drought tolerant, you can back off the watering as they grow.

Good news! It’s not too late in the gardening season to add sunflowers to your landscape. Depending on the variety you’ll have bloom by July or August (50-90 days).

Check out this amazing time lapse video that captures the life cycle of one sunflower.

Selecting Sunflowers

Here in southeast Texas, our native sunflowers attract a host of pollinating insects, birds, and small mammals. Many native bees favor sunflower pollen for its protein and feed it to their developing larvae. Pro Tip: before purchasing sunflower seeds, check the information on the packet to be certain the variety is open-pollinated. These flowers will produce abundant pollen while hybrid sunflowers have little to none. Two easy-to-find native varieties are Maximmilian and the annual sunflower (Helianthus annus).

Birds make great use of the seeds high oil content for energy production and body maintenance. Let the plants stand through the winter for an ideal bird feeder! Your garden will be filled with finches, pine siskins, chickadees and nuthatches. Dried sunflower stalks and leaves provide cover and food for many small mammals.

Of course, birds aren’t the only ones who love a good sunflower seed. Try one of these varieties if you’re interested in harvesting them for your dinner table: Mammoth Greystripe, Black Russian, Lemon Queen or Great White Seeded. Grow-your-own sunflowers are a fun and tasty way to add nutrients and antioxidants to your diet. The National Sunflower Association is a great source for nutritious sunflower recipes.

Celebrate “The Year of the Sunflower” and give your landscape a happy focal point this summer. The benefits abound for you and the environment!


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

More green plants don’t equal more fish in our waterways – here’s why

Aquatic plants supply food, shelter and oxygen for the fish and other aquatic life that share their environment. Pretty important stuff. So, logically, the more plants in the pond the better, right? Well, sort of.

While native aquatic plants are certainly a good thing, there’s a growing contingent of non-native interlopers in these parts. At least 10 species in The Woodlands water bodies appear on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s prohibited species list. These invasive species are illegal to sell, distribute, import, possess, or introduce into Texas waters.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has identified several plants as illegal to sell, distribute, import, possess or introduce into Texas waters. Some plants on the above list are not yet prohibited but are known invasive plants in The Woodlands.

The problem starts with the unfair advantage that non-native invasive plants enjoy: fewer natural controls than their native counterparts. This allows them to spread easily and choke out the natives. And as native plants disappear, so do many of our native fish species and other life who simply can’t adapt.

These invasives don’t need any help. Yet, we give them plenty by turbocharging their growth with lawn chemicals. Rain and irrigation readily carry chemicals from lawn to storm drain to local waterway. There they fertilize aquatic plants just as they do your grass. All the excessive growth that results eventually dies and decomposes, consuming oxygen in the process – A LOT of it. So much in fact that oxygen-depleted dead zones result – not good if you’re an aquatic organism. If you’ve ever seen fish floating at the top of a pond, particularly in the summer, this is a likely reason.

In short, invasive aquatic plants bring a slew of bad news.

BUT there’s good news, too! With a couple of simple steps, you can help turn the tide. In fact, more and more residents across The Woodlands are doing exactly that.

Step 1 – Remove all non-native plants from your landscape. Even if they aren’t an aquatic species, they still risk escaping into natural areas. Remember, plants don’t have to grow their way to new areas; seeds are great at dispersing by wind or bird.

Step 2 – Reduce, or even better, eliminate chemical use in your yard. Substitute organic products in their place. Did you know organic compost is probably the single best amendment for your yard?

Support your local fish populations, and all the other critters that depend on clean, healthy water. Remember to: Remove, Plant, Repeat! Remove invasive species, plant natives and repeat the process.

Learn more during Watershed Project: Aquatic Invasive Species, an online workshop scheduled for June 5, 2021, from 9 to 11 a.m. The workshop is FREE, but registration is required. Click the button below to register.


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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Recycling Guidelines

Keep The Woodlands recycling program going strong by refreshing your knowledge of curbside guidelines. Above all, follow the Golden Rule of Recycling: place only the approved items in your recycling cart. Items other than those specified are considered contaminants. Common contaminants included plastic bags, tanglers (cords or string), food waste, hazardous waste, and Styrofoam. These itemsharm machinery, endanger  workers and reduce the value of the approved materials.   

Many items that don’t belong in your curbside cart can be recycled locally. Findwhere to take plastic bags, electronics, Styrofoam, batteries and more with The Woodlands Township’s Recycle More Guide.

Did you know? Half of the contamination found in our recycling is bagged recyclables. Are you collecting recyclables in a bag? Simply empty the contents into the cart. Take clean plastic bags back to grocery stores for recycling. Trash the dirty ones. Share this tip with three friends or neighbors to keep our recycling program strong. 

For more information about recycling, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/recyling 

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:      


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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