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How To Get Rid of Mosquitos In Your Yard

Ah, summer. A season of backyard barbecues, catching fireflies, gathering around a campfire, and...scratching your mosquito bites? According to a recent report, more than one-third of people surveyed cited mosquitoes as their least favorite aspect of summer. And at their worst, these buzzing pests can be worse than an annoyance. Carrying diseases like West Nile and Zika, the same insects that make you itch could also make you seriously ill. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to lower the prevalence of mosquitos and other biting insects in your own backyard.

From natural repellents and plantings, to proactive measures to take around your property, doing a few small things can make a big difference in keeping everyone's most hated summer pest at bay.

Eliminate Standing Water

Where you may see an unassuming puddle, mosquitoes see a potential breeding ground. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still or standing water, and they don’t discriminate. Any stagnant pool of water can easily become a new safe harbor for these seasonal nuisances, so be thorough in your investigation of your yard.

Overturned toys, grill covers, sand boxes, and potted plant saucers can all hold enough water to create a serious problem. If you maintain a birdbath, change the water daily or even forgo altogether. Make it a habit to check your property for standing water after rainy days or nights. As with many stressful things in life, it’s easier to try and prevent a pest problem than to fix it after it has already taken hold.

Keep Grass and Vegetation Trimmed

While mosquitoes are creatures of the night, they don’t simply disappear during the day. When you can’t see them, you could find them hiding in vegetation around your yard. Tall grass, unkempt weeds, and tree stumps all act as perfect hiding places for mosquitos during daylight hours. To minimize available shelter, keep your lawn cut and avoid allowing tall weeds to grow throughout or around the edges of your yard. The less cover you give them, the less habitable your yard becomes. 

If your yard features a running water feature such as a fountain or dripping installation, pause before placing potted plants too close. Damp spray from fountains can provide enough moisture for eggs to be laid within the foliage of your plants. Keep container gardens and other decorative container landscaping away from water features during peak pest months.

Natural Mosquito Repellents 

If you’re not keen on the idea of chemical bug repellents, you aren’t alone. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can try to help keep mosquitos at bay naturally.

Sprays and Topical Treatments

Several essential oils are effective against mosquitos, and some have even been recognized by the CDC. Among them are lemon-eucalyptus, tea tree, soybean, and citronella oil. 

Lemon-eucalyptus oil is thought to be the most effective, and at high enough concentrations has been shown to be a strong deterrent against biting insects such as mosquitos. Sprays and treatments using this active ingredient are readily available for purchase, and if not quite as effective as chemical alternatives, definitely smell better. 

Citronella Candles and Yard Treatments

For natural repellents that add a bit of ambience to your outdoor living space, citronella candles with good formulations can be effective in keeping mosquitos away without compromising the aesthetic of your space. Higher concentrations of citronella will have more of a deterrent effect than those with lower percentages. 

Naturally treating your lawn and yard is possible with mixtures of the same aforementioned essential oils and water. Simply mix the solution and spray. It is important to note, however, that some essential oils such as eucalyptus can be harmful or toxic to animals if ingested. Always do your research before introducing a new component to your home that could harm your furry friend.

Grow Mosquito Repelling Plants

One of the best ways to prevent mosquitoes from taking hold in your yard is to make your backyard as unappealing of a habitat as possible. Luckily, there is a wide range of plants that mosquitoes and other biting insects can’t stand, that also look great incorporated into your landscaping. Beds of herbs such as rosemary, basil, lemongrass, and peppermint are natural deterrents, and serve double duty as welcome additions to your kitchen.

For more color and visual interest, try flowers such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and common lantanas. As an added bonus, many of these same flowers disliked by insects are also deterrents to garden saboteurs such as rabbits, doubling their protective qualities.

Netting

After enough summers spent outside, you realize that sometimes, you simply can’t win against nature. If you are dying to use your outdoor living space, but can’t stand the constant threat of another bite, netting is here to save the day. Netted gazebos can be installed on any patio, deck, or outdoor living area and are one of the most effective ways to keep bugs out, while allowing you to enjoy a warm summer evening with friends and family.

It’s true, netting isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but it doesn’t have to be an eyesore and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank. Sites like Amazon and Wayfair both stock affordable covered gazebos and netting solutions in metal, wood, and natural finishes. As easy to remove as they are to install, the opportunity to truly live in your backyard without the constant struggle against bites is worth the compromise.

Fans, Fans, Fans

Ever noticed how a strong breeze can push even the most persistent pests back into the trees? A study from The Journal of Medical Entomology has shown that mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers with a poor ability to navigate against even a small degree of consistent wind. If you’re struggling to keep mosquitos at bay, try creating your own wind with oscillating fans.

For those considering a more complex design for their outdoor space, installing an outdoor ceiling fan can keep air moving while maintaining a more sophisticated aesthetic for your space. This solution, while more costly, can be a way to enhance the quality of life for you and your family in your outdoor space, while adding value as well. Installation is quick, and the payoff is immediate.

Chemical Mosquito Repellents

When natural remedies fail, it may be time to pull out the heavy hitters. Some people cringe at the thought of chemical bug spray and lawn treatments, but it’s hard to deny their effectiveness. While plenty of bug sprays on the market advertise natural active ingredients, desperate times may just call for DEET. Before you click away, hear us out.

Is DEET safe? Despite its media reputation, leading experts say yes. According to reports by the EPA as recently as 2014, repellents using DEET as an active ingredient are safe for use and pose no known health risks. That being said, they advise against use on broken skin, underclothing, and avoiding contact with eyes, nose, and mouth. While reports of their effect on the environment are more varied, there is not a direct word from the EPA that advises against their use.

That being said, options such as OFF! Deep Woods are formulated using 25 percent deet and are effective in combating not only mosquitoes, but other summer pests such as ticks, gnats, and biting flies. Of course, while safe and effective, we can’t deny that the smell and feel of bug spray leaves something to be desired. But I think most of us agree that a quick shower is more enjoyable than a long week of itchy ankles.

Small Things Make a Big Difference

If you’re tired of your summer being interrupted by backyard pests, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Don’t let mosquitoes ruin another backyard bonfire. With some simple changes, you can turn your yard into a less welcoming place for biting insects, and more enjoyable space for you and your family. From fans to repellent, to simply eliminating standing water, small things can make a huge difference.

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