4 Tips for Backyard Mosquito Control

Mosquitoes don’t have to be an unavoidable part of summer.
Mosquitoes don’t have to be an unavoidable part of summer.

Your yard is all ready for summer parties: The lounge chairs are out, the grill is clean, and the flowers are blooming. But have you figured out how to deal with summer’s most annoying uninvited guests? We're not talking about your nosy neighbor – we're talking about summer's least-loved regulars: Mosquitoes. The tiny bloodsuckers are a hot-weather standard that are difficult to get rid of, although there are some methods that can help you control your yard’s population. Read on to find out how you can take the bite out of uncomfortable summer days and nights with these easy tips for mosquito control.

Check for Standing Water

Mosquitoes breed in water – the eggs hatch there while the larva and pupa live under the surface – so removing standing water in your backyard means mosquitoes are less likely to make your home their home. The US Environmental Protection Agency suggests clearing out gutters, buckets, outdoor toys, and baby pools, and replacing the water in birdbaths, fountains, and rain barrels every week to keep them fresh. If you have an in-ground pool, regular maintenance – like treatments and circulation – will help dissuade mosquitoes.

Install a Misting System

If you have a serious mosquito problem, then you can look into installing a misting system in your yard. These timed-interval or remote-controlled systems spray an insecticide mist that kills mosquitoes (along with other insects). Though they may provide temporary relief, according to the EPA, misting systems won’t keep new mosquitoes from making their way into your yard and haven’t been shown to decrease the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases. The pesticides used in the spray, including pyrethins and permethrin, will kill helpful insects along with mosquitoes and will also expose your family and pets to the chemicals (which, though they aren’t dangerously toxic, could have potential risks).

Set a Trap

Modern mosquito traps aren’t your old-school bug zappers: They lure female mosquitoes via carbon dioxide, and then kill them before they are able to lay their eggs. But do they really work? The American Mosquito Control Association says that research has shown the “devices will trap and kill measurable numbers of mosquitoes,” but your results may vary: “Please be cautioned against putting too much faith in traps as your sole means of control…It’s highly unlikely that these devices, whatever their improvements, will ever fully supplant organized community-wide mosquito control problems, for there is no single silver bullet that will prove to be the ultimate answer to mosquito problems.” For a lower-tech mosquito trap, follow these directions from Mother Earth News to build your own from covered buckets, spoiled fruit, and an insecticide.

Avoid Them Altogether

The simplest way to keep yourself from ending up with a body full of bites is to make yourself unattractive to the mosquitoes, by using traditional repellents (like those containing permethrin, suggested for use on clothes and gear as opposed to skin, or DEET); wearing long sleeves and long pants; closing gaps in screens and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your house or porch; and burning citronella candles, which work best on days that aren’t too windy. If you’re trying to protect the kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics approves repellents with 30 percent DEET or less for children older than two months.

More Great Links

Sources

  • “Remove Mosquito Habitats.” Environmental Protection Agency. (May 29, 2013) http://www2.epa.gov/mosquitocontrol/remove-mosquito-habitats
  • “Outdoor residential misting systems.” Environmental Protection Agency. (May 29, 2013) http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/misting_systems.htm
  • “Low Cost, Homemade Mosquito Trap.” Mother Earth News. (May 29, 2013) http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/homemade-mosquito-trap-zm0z12jjzhun.aspx#axzz2UhKe3QtV
  • “Low Cost, Homemade Mosquito Trap.” Mother Earth News. (May 29, 2013) http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/homemade-mosquito-trap-zm0z12jjzhun.aspx#axzz2UhKe3QtV
  • “Repellents.” AMCA. (May 29, 2013) http://www.mosquito.org/repellents
  • “Insect Repellents.” HealthyChildren.org (May 29, 2013) http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx