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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Mozzie mails
Last week Justin reported a problem with his water butts - an infestation of mosquito larvae was giving the Rowlatts serious butt ache. But Justin's complaints didn't fall on deaf ears, and a large number of you have written in with advice on how to curtail the problem.

Read Mozzies in my butts

Just a little advice for Justin about his mozzie problem: I'd try pouring about 100mls of olive oil into each rain butt. Its non-toxic so won't harm the garden and it should float on top of the water, anyway. The "oil slick" will suffocate the mozzie larvae and should solve the problem.
Peter, Nottingham

Mosquito larvae in Justin Rowlatt's water butt
Mosquito larvae - lovely with a bit of fish and olive oil...
Mosquito larvae can be killed by pouring a layer of oil on top of the water. The oil prevents them breaking through the surface to breathe.
Dan, London

Mosquito larva need to breath and so hang from the surface of the water. If you pour a small amount of vegetable oil into your water butts it will cover the surface and form a barrier to the larvae being able to access air. The oil will largely stick to the sides of the butt as water levels fall and will be picked up again as it rises, therefore it will not need to be replaced too often.
Ralph Whitehead, Bolton

The answer is not, as you suggest, to add bleach - our solution was closer to nature
John Greener
Hi. An idea for keeping down the mosquitoes in your water butts: What about putting a few goldfish in there? They can't be more than 1 each, get two or three for each one and you won't even have to bother feeding them with all that food there.
Luke Watson, Northampton

I read the article about mozzies in the water butt with interest - we have suffered the same problem, and our daughter was also frequently bitten. The answer is not, as you suggest, to add bleach. Our solution was closer to nature. We periodically release the goldfish from its tank into the water butt. It munches up the mozzie larvae and solves the problem of full grown biting mozzies. The only difficulty is catching it again afterwards and returning it to the tank, this requires a lot of time and patience.
John Greener, Buckingham

I've heard of one organic approach to dealing with this problem which is to have a few goldfish in each water butt. You may need to bring the fish indoors during winter if there is any chance of the water freezing. Your children may also like this solution!
Greg, Peterborough

If you cut off the air supply they die and the parents don't lay any more eggs in there
Andrew
Here in the US they sell tablets that you can put into butts or any other non-drinking water areas. These tablets kill off mosquito larvae. Hopefully they sell them in the UK too.
Barry Cotterell, Atlantic City, NJ, USA

How do you get mosquitoes out of your butts? Well, I suppose it's really a case of keeping them out in the first place. You need to use a close fitting lid to prevent them getting in there to lay eggs, and seal any gaps between the butt and the pipe leading into it. You also need to make sure there aren't any other areas of standing water around - change the water in your birdbath regularly. Garden ponds aren't a problem if they have goldfish in them, as the goldfish just eat the larvae. I doubt sticking a goldfish in your water butt would count as ethical though.
Mike Fay, Nottingham

If you cut off the air supply they die and the parents don't lay any more eggs in there either. The best way to do this in a water butt is to pour in a large bottle of vegetable oil. It always floats on the water and effectively seals the surface off. Make sure that you never empty the butt right down to the tap and it's a fairly permanent solution as well as ecologically friendly. It also won't poison the garden if it does end up in the watering can, keeping Bee happy!
Andrew, Swansea, Wales

There is a product made from chrysanthemums in the shape of a doughnut that floats in your rain barrel
John Shields
My Dad used to control mosquitoes in free standing water butts by adding a drop or two of petrol to the water - this would float on top of the water and kill the mosquito larvae. An environmentally friendly option would be to use bio-control. Buy a couple of freshwater fish and pop them in the tank, they'll happily eat the mosquito larvae and you won't have to feed them either.
James Prendergast, Sydney, Aus

To control insects, mosquitoes, fruit flies, tomato worms etc in my garden, I spray a tea made from chewing tobacco in a tea-ball dunked in a bucket of water.(One made with molasses is great, known as RedMan here in the US). Apparently the nicotine is deadly. (No, really?) The early colonists in Virginia etc had great success with it. There is also a product made from chrysanthemums in the shape of a doughnut that floats in your rain barrel which controls mosquitoes.
John Shields, Denver Colorado, USA


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