Last summer’s outbreak of West Nile virus has experts and homeowners bracing for another hot, mosquito-filled summer. West Nile virus killed 286 people in the USA in 2012—the most deaths ever attributed in a single year to the mosquito-borne disease. To prevent a repeat of last summer, health officials and homeowners are already taking steps to control populations of mosquitoes which transmit the disease.

Because female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, homeowners are advised to eliminate places where water can collect and stand in their yards and gardens. According to one mosquito control expert, mosquitoes can breed in a coffee cup of standing water in less than a week.

To reduce mosquito breeding grounds, dispose of cans, plastic containers, old tires and other items that can collect water. Turn over wheelbarrows and empty children’s wading pools. Clean clogged roof gutters, which can become prime mosquito-breeding pools. Drill holes in in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors. Periodically empty the saucers under ceramic pots to make sure they are not harboring mosquito larvae.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in ponds, bird baths and any other places where water collects, use Mosquito Dunks®, the number-one selling biological mosquito control product. The active ingredient in Mosquito Dunks® is called B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae but is harmless to other living things. When placed in standing water, Mosquito Dunks® will kill mosquito larvae for up to 30 days.

Mosquito Dunks® are available at garden centers, hardware stores and home centers. For more information visit summitresponsiblesolutions.com.


The Jelly Bean Blueberry (Vaccinium ‘Jelly Bean’) is a dwarf blueberry bush that’s destined to become a landscape star. It makes a great container plant or an eye-catching bush at the edge of a garden. The white flowers with a pinkish hue cover the plant in the springtime and then give way to mid-summer fruit that is both beautifully blue and delicately delicious. This diminutive blueberry bush is an excellent choice if you’d like a fruit-bearing bush but have little space. It reaches only 1-2 feet tall with an equal spread and forms a compact, rounded form. Jelly Bean Blueberry loves full sun and is cold hardy throughout USDA Zones 4-8. A one-gallon plant is on sale for $34.95 from NatureHills.com.


Columbines are delightful flowering perennials that look delicate but are tough enough to survive frigid winters. Winky Red and White Columbine (Aquilegia ‘Winky Red and White’) is a dwarf variety that’s a very heavy bloomer. A nice show of red-purple and white, upward-facing flowers starts in the late spring and lasts into early summer. Aquilegia Winky Red and White stays a compact 10-12” tall and 10-12” wide, so it fits easily into most garden beds or perennial borders. It will do best in compost-enriched garden loam with morning sun and afternoon shade. This variety is particularly cold hardy and thrives throughout USDA Zones 3-8. Plants are available for $8.99 each in a 5” premium pot from HighCountryGardens.com.


With more than 2,000,000 sold worldwide, the Mantis Tiller/Cultivator is the world’s best-selling tiller. The small tiller is powerful and durable, yet it’s light enough to carry to the garden with one hand. The patented “serpentine” tine design, paired with a powerful engine and specially engineered transmission, results in the power to break through hard soil and even clay.

There is a Mantis Tiller model for every gardener, from the Classic two-cycle and electric models to the new Deluxe two-cycle (pictured) and four-cycle tillers. The Deluxe models feature the light weight and power of the Classics plus several new ergonomic and fatigue-fighting comfort features. For maximum power and extended tilling width, Mantis offers the Deluxe XP Tiller, featuring a 35cc four-cycle engine and 16” tilling width.

Optional attachments are also available, including a lawn dethatcher, lawn aerator, plow, crevice cleaner, and more. Every Mantis Tiller is backed by a one-year money back guarantee and a five-year consumer warranty—and the tines are guaranteed for life against breakage. Mantis Tiller prices start as low as $299. Call (888) 240-4765 or visit mantis.com.


‘Tis the season for muscle aches and pains that can accompany home improvement and gardening projects. For soothing relief try natural salves and liniments, such as Arnica Liniment from The Super Salve Company. Arnica Liniment is deep penetrating and oil free, and it uses the natural healing properties of Arnica flower (Arnica montana, also known by the common name Leopardsbane). Arnica is popular for treating muscle strains, injuries and bruises, and it is an excellent remedy for any sports bag or first aid kit. Arnica Liniment provides soothing relief for muscle aches and pains of all kinds because it is fast acting and helps to increase circulation. Arnica Liniment sells for $9.95 from supersalve.com, (575) 539-2768.