Since you can’t drape your entire yard with a mosquito net, see how to get rid of mosquitoes and keep them away when citronella candles and incense coils just won’t cut it.
Mosquitoes are some of the most bothersome backyard pests. They have a unique ability to ruin cookouts by attacking en masse with their whiny buzz and miserable bites. And they are more than just annoying. Mosquitoes are arguably the most dangerous animal on the planet. They carry nearly a dozen potentially life threatening diseases including West Nile virus and malaria, and infect about 700 million people worldwide each year, so repelling mosquitoes is serious business.
The good news is that there are effective, environmentally friendly, natural ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from bothersome mosquito bites. No single solution, natural or otherwise, guarantees that you’ll never be bitten again. But by incorporating these natural ways to keep mosquitoes away, you greatly limit the threat
Dry Out Your Yard
Mosquitoes have a 4-stage life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, adult. In favorable conditions they can complete the cycle in 8 to 10 days, although eggs can lie dormant for years until the conditions are just right for hatching.
Spring through fall, female mosquitoes seek out standing and stagnant water. They lay eggs slightly above the water surface. When rain raises the water level, it stimulates the eggs to hatch. Take away their chance to reproduce in your yard by eliminating pools and puddles.
First, eliminate any human made puddles such as potted plant saucers, yard toys, uncovered trash cans, bird baths, clogged rain gutters, and plastic wading pools. Then address wet areas in the yard, like soggy ground near downspouts, and low spots that drain poorly after rain. Create positive flow wherever possible to move rainwater away as quickly as possible.
While you’re at it, mow the lawn; tall grass is a haven for mosquitoes (and other insects).
Katchy Insect Trap, $39.79 from Amazon
You can still use a mosquito trap to catch any stragglers.
Use a Natural Insect Killer to Eliminate Larvae
Some standing water cannot be eliminated. Ornamental ponds and other water features add beauty and movement to the landscape, but can also harbor mosquito larvae. Low-lying landscapes may have natural ephemeral pools during wet weather that cannot or should not be drained. In these instances, Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti) can help.
Bti is a bacteria found in soil. When incorporated as the active ingredient in larvicide products like Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits, it kills mosquito larvae before they emerge from the water.
Summit Mosquito Dunks, 20 for $23.55 from Amazon
These can be placed in a bird bath or rain barrel to kill mosquito larvae.
Bti spores in the product specifically target and kill the mosquito, black fly, and fungus gnat larvae that feed on it, and nothing else. Bti is safe for humans, animals, bees, and the environment when used as directed. It is registered for use in residential, commercial, and agricultural settings, and is widely used in organic farming.
Related Reading: More Natural Pest Control Options for Your Garden
Attract Mosquito Predators
Mosquitoes are food for lots of wildlife, particularly as larvae. Dragonfly larvae, whirligig beetles, water striders, fish, and turtles all feast on mosquito larvae. Adult mosquitoes are eaten by songbirds, bats, damselflies, and some toads and frogs. A recent study suggests that even some plant species may prey on mosquito larva. While no single species is a mosquito eating specialist, there’s no doubt that creating a diverse backyard habitat is a good way to keep mosquitoes in check.
Benadryl Extra Strength Cooling Relief Anti-Itch Gel, $4.29 from Amazon
If you do get a mosquito bite, this will help stop the itch.
Wear a Natural Mosquito Repellent
Most essential oil insect repellents (including citronella, neem oil, and lavender oil) offer nominal protection for very short periods of time, but one natural compound excels at keeping mosquitoes at bay. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is a natural, plant-based insect repellent that boasts results similar to synthetic products. At 30 percent concentration, OLE repels mosquitoes and ticks comparably to DEET for up to four hours. It is non-toxic and considered very safe for use on adults and children as young as three years of age. Use caution when applying because it generates intense irritation if it accidentally gets into the eyes.
Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, $4.97 from Amazon
This natural bug spray is a great way to repel mosquitoes.
There is not one natural method that will keep mosquitoes 100 percent away. However, employing a couple of these environmentally friendly methods will help reduce the mosquito population in your area significantly—meaning you can truly enjoy the remaining summer evenings outside on your patio or balcony or in the yard.
Header image courtesy of Johner Images / Getty Images