Monday, July 02, 2007

Death by Dish Soap

My mother sends me the occasional chain letter with some piece of sage advice or other. Don’t misunderstand; she’s beyond taking their contents for granted. She forwards them to me so I can check them out and determine whether they’re blog fodder.

Case in point…

When having a cook out. you don't like those pesky mosquitoes, especially now that they have the potential to carry the West Nile Virus?

Here's a tip that was given at a recent gardening forum.

Put some water In a white dinner plate and add a couple drops of Lemon Fresh Joy dish detergent. Set the dish on your porch, patio, or other outdoor area. Not sure what attracts them, the lemon smell, the white plate color, or what, but mosquitoes flock to it, and drop dead shortly after drinking the Lemon Fresh Joy water mixture, and usually within about 10 feet of the plate.

Check this out. It works just super! May seem trivial, but it may help control mosquitoes around your home, especially in the South and elsewhere where the West Nile Virus is reaching epidemic proportions in mosquitoes, birds, and humans.

Pass it on!
The “Pass it on!” at the end immediately makes the message suspect. It’s like a big red label that says “WARNING: Bogus chain letter spam!”. Bogus chain letter spam is seldom new, so I usually turn to to see if it’s already been vetted. Sure enough, this one’s BS, and it dates back to 2000.

Dishwashing liquid neither attracts nor poisons mosquitos. Female mosquitos need to extract some blood in order to lay their eggs, so they are attracted to carbon dioxide, which large animals like us produce in noticeable quantities as we breathe. While their normal diet is nectar from flowers, there is nothing about the lemon scent in dishwashing detergent that would attract mosquitos.

Granted, if the mosquitos were inclined to land in the soap dish, they would drown. Normally they can walk on the surface of water without breaking through. Soap, however, reduces the surface tension of water enough for them to be pulled under. Unfortunately, the mosquitos would have no particular inclination to land in the water dish. What absolutely won't happen is mosquitos dying of "dish soap poisoning" in a ten foot radius around the dish.


Greet said...

You can however, kill a few mosquitoes if you use a black plate and put a bit of yeast in your Dawn-water. I played around with some homemade traps last year that were sode bottles wrapped with black felt with sugary yeast soap water inside. I got mosquitoes. Haven't done it this summer though, since I'm concentrating on growing m's instead - rainwater harvesting.

Lord Runolfr said...

And, thinking on a bit, Greet's trap absolutely makes sense. With a sugar-yeast-soap solution, you have sugar to feed the yeast, which produce carbon dioxide, which attracts the female mosquitoes, which land in the soapy water and drown because the surface tension won't support them.