Keeping Mosquitoes at Bay

mosquitoLast month we learned that the so-called mosquito repellent plants don’t actually keep our yards pest free. Does that mean we have to suffer annoying, itchy welts? Thankfully, there are alternatives. We start by preventing mosquitoes from breeding.

Most of us know that mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. The eggs hatch into aquatic larvae. In as little as three day (depending on the temperature), those larvae become flying adults. The males leave us alone, but the females suck up a gut full of nutrient-rich blood to support egg-laying. And often, that blood comes from us.

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Pesticide-free? Forget It!

059 fruit @PikeMarSea LAHI was at the market picking out some grapes when a large woman ran up to me and grabbed my arm. “Don’t buy those!” She looked alarmed. “They’re not organic!”

Thankfully, I’m rarely accosted in the produce department , but I frequently hear the same lecture from many of my friends. Don’t take man-made drugs. Don’t use artificial sweeteners. Don’t eat food that isn’t organic. You’re poisoning yourself. Natural is safe. Everything else isn’t.

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Nature’s Easter Eggs

eggsWith many of us dying Easter eggs this week, I got curious about eggs that are naturally colored. We’ve raised chickens (Ameraucanas) that laid turquoise-to-olive eggs; our current flock of Black Sex-links lay in shades of tan. In fact, I usually have to buy white eggs at the store in order to achieve those pastel Easter hues.

But what about other kinds of birds? For instance, why do American Robins lay blue eggs, Burrowing Owls lay white eggs, while the American Golden Plover lays eggs that look like ovoid granite rocks, with big, black speckles on a white background? How and why do eggs come in so many colors?

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Seeing Red

redcoats-painting-f-cotes-pxt-1764-by-francis-cotes-1726-1770

What do Minute Maid® or Ocean Spray® ruby red grapefruit juice, Revolutionary War British soldier uniforms, and Almay lipstick have in common? Yes, they’re all red. But there’s more to it than that. They, along with a myriad of other cosmetics, foods, and a few fabrics, all contain a red dye known as cochineal red or its derivative, carmine.

Almost everything these days contains some sort of artificial color. While some people avoid these dyes, most don’t think twice even if they do happen to read the label. Besides, cochineal isn’t artificial. It’s a natural product that has been used for hundreds of years.

So just what is it, and where does it come from?

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