Nothing takes the fun out of an evening barbecue outdoors like a bunch of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. In addition to inflicting a painful bite, mosquitoes can transmit diseases. You can keep your local mosquito population under control by limiting their habitat on your property, and avoid their annoying bites by using the right barriers and repellents.
Mosquitoes Require Water to Breed
Mosquitoes require water to breed. Adult mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant or slow moving water, or on moist soil or leaf litter in areas likely to collect water. By eliminating these water sources, you can keep new generations of mosquitoes from taking up residence in your yard.
7 Tips to Prevent Mosquitoes From Breeding
Follow these tips to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around your home:
1. Drill holes in the bottom, not the sides, of any garbage or recycling containers stored outdoors. Holes on the sides still allow enough water to accumulate in the bottom for mosquitoes to breed.
2. Keep gutters clean and unclogged. Be sure your downspouts drain properly, without leaving puddles in the drainage area. You may need to reroute your downspouts or add extensions to carry water away.
3. Keep swimming pools cleaned and chlorinated, even when not in use. Homeowners who go on vacation without chlorinating their pools may return to a veritable mosquito hatchery.
4. Walk your property after a rain, and look for areas in the landscape that are not draining well. If you find puddles that remain for four or more days, regrade the area.
5. Ornamental ponds should be aerated to keep water moving and discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs. Alternately, stock the pond with mosquito-eating fish.
6. Dump anything that holds water twice per week if it has rained. Birdbaths, non-chlorinated wading pools, footbaths, garbage can lids, and pottery will all attract breeding mosquitoes. Remember to empty the saucers under your flower pots, and don’t leave water in pet bowls for more than two days.
7. Keep your property clean of items that can hold water, including discarded aluminum cans and tires.
6 Effective Repellents and Barriers
Even when following all the precautions above to eliminate mosquito habitat, some mosquitoes will still be around to spoil your fun. You can limit exposure to the mosquitoes that remain by using effective repellents and barriers.
1. Window and door screens should be 16-18 size mesh and fit snugly, without gaps around the edges. Check your screens for holes and repair or replace them as needed.
2. Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights. These lights do not repel insects, but mosquitoes and other pests are less likely to find them attractive and invade your yard.
3. When outdoors, apply a DEET-based insect repellent according to the directions on the label. DEET will need to be reapplied in 4-6 hours.
4. Treat clothing, sunshades, and screen houses with a permethrin-based product, such as Permanone. Permethrin repels both mosquitoes and ticks and will last through several washes on your clothing.
5. Some insecticides available commercially may be used by the homeowner for mosquito control. Check the labels for EPA-approved products registered as effective against adult and larval mosquitoes. A light spray application around building foundations, shrubs, and grasses will keep adults from resting in these areas.
6. Use of some other repellent products, such as citronella candles and mosquito coils, may also be effective if used in windless conditions. Some concerns about mosquito coils, which are impregnated with chemicals, and possible respiratory impacts have been raised recently, however.
Don’t Bother With These Bogus Mosquito Products
Despite what your friends tell you, some popular mosquito control methods have no significant impact on keeping mosquitoes in check. According to Wayne J. Crans, Associate Research Professor in Entomology at Rutgers University, these often-touted mosquito solutions are not worth your time or money.
Though the satisfying sizzle you hear from this modern day insect torture device will convince you it’s working, don’t expect much relief from backyard mosquitoes. According to Crans, biting insects (including mosquitoes) generally make up less than 1% of the bugs zapped in these popular devices. Many beneficial insects, on the other hand, do get electrocuted.
While citronella oil does have proven mosquito-repellent properties, the genetically-modified plants sold for this purpose do not. In tests by researchers, the test subjects bitten as often while surrounded by the Citrosa plants as without them. In fact, mosquitoes were observed landing on the leaves of Citrosa plants during the study.
Bats And/Or Purple Martins
While both bats and the colonial purple martins will consume mosquitoes, the offending insects make up a small percentage of their natural diet. Assertions about these insectivores being effective mosquito controls grew out of misrepresented and misinterpreted data from unrelated studies. While providing habitat for bats and purple martins has its value, don’t do it if only to reduce your mosquito populations.
Electronic Devices That Transmit Sounds to Mimic
Electronic devices that transmit sounds to mimic male mosquitoes or dragonflies do not work.