The return of warmer weather has most people itching to head outside—only to head back indoors as a different type of itching begins. Unfortunately, in many regions, there simply isn’t much time after winter subsides to enjoy temperate weather before mosquito season starts up. These annoying insects can seem like the bane of our existence in the spring, summer and fall, whether we’re trying to do some yard work or simply enjoy the outdoors. But how can you protect yourself from these pests and their itchy bites? Do mosquito bracelets work? What about other methods to repel them or keep them at bay? Let’s take a look at various methods of mosquito control to see what works best.
Mosquito bracelets, also called mosquito wristbands, are an appealing form of pest repellent for many people since they seem safer than lots of the alternatives, as you don’t have to rub chemicals on your skin. But, these bracelets have not been found to be effective and may not even be properly grounded in scientific research. Similarly, other natural mosquito repellent methods, such as citronella candles, have only anecdotal reports to back up their effectiveness; scientific trials have not found them to make any significant difference in the ongoing battle between humans and mosquitoes. And while there are other methods of home mosquito control, such as mosquito foggers, these methods have varying results.
What is it about these creatures that make them so annoying? For starters, it’s their bites. Anyone who has slapped themselves repeatedly when they felt that tiny little tickle or itch on their skin, or heard that irritating whine in their ears, knows just how annoying mosquito bites can be—especially if you’re someone who seems to draw mosquitoes in and react to their bites more than others. While scientists aren’t certain why mosquitoes bite some people more than others, they know this phenomenon is real. Mosquitoes seem to be drawn to body heat and carbon dioxide output, and they use their sense of smell to find an appealing host to bite.
Interestingly, male mosquitoes don’t actually bite people. They feed only on the juices and nectar of plants and flowers. Female mosquitoes rely on these same things for their nutrition, but they also bite people (as well as dogs, cats and other mammals) to feed on their blood. They need mammal blood for its proteins, to help their eggs develop.
The term “mosquito bite” is actually a bit of a misnomer, since mosquitoes don’t technically bite people. Rather, they use a straw-like mouthpiece, called a proboscis, to make a tiny incision in their victim’s skin and then suck up the blood. They also inject their saliva into the incision as they feed on the blood. The mosquito’s saliva is actually what makes your skin itch when you get a mosquito bite.
People react to mosquito bites in varying ways and to varying degrees. Some people aren’t bothered much at all by them, while others develop itchy red welts when bitten, and some even develop hives or other allergic reactions. Your pets can also have allergic responses to mosquito bites—yet another reason to control mosquito populations around your home and yard.
Even worse, however, is the fact that mosquitoes can actually carry and transmit serious diseases, such as malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus and dengue fever. They can also spread heartworm to dogs and cats, which can have serious consequences for pets. And, while cats are less susceptible to heartworm than dogs, they can still contract this serious condition.
For all of these reasons, it’s important to find effective ways to keep mosquitoes away from your home and yard. There are several steps you can take on your own to control mosquitoes on your property. If you have a serious outbreak, however, it’s always a smart idea to contact a mosquito control specialist who can determine the best combination of products and techniques to get rid of these pests.
If you’re ready to take steps to limit the number of mosquitoes on your property, you must understand what draws them to your home and yard in the first place.
How To Attract Mosquitoes—And How To Repel Them
If you’re wondering how to attract mosquitoes, here is the main thing you need to know: Along with food and the occasional blood meal for breeding, mosquitoes need moisture and warmth to survive. This means that if it’s not too cold—temperatures above about 50 degrees Fahrenheit are typically fine for most mosquito species—and with access to food, water and someone to bite for their blood, mosquitoes can live, reproduce and thrive.
That’s the basics of what attracts mosquitoes. As long as these elements are in place, you’ll attract plenty of these bothersome bugs your way. If you’re like most people, of course, it’s far more likely that you’re interested in learning ways to repel mosquitoes than ways to attract them. Here are some mosquito control methods you can do yourself:
- Since mosquitoes need moisture to breed, don’t allow water to pool or collect anywhere inside or around your home. After it rains, dump out any standing water from planters, pots, tires and other items around your property. If puddles collect in lower areas of the yard, take steps to improve drainage or grading to resolve the problem.
- Mosquitoes can also lay eggs in damp leaves, so be sure to keep your yard clear of piles of leaves and other underbrush.
- Since mosquitoes tend to hang out in tall grasses and underbrush when they aren’t actively feeding, it’s also a good idea to cut your grass regularly and keep bushes trimmed to give these pests fewer spots to hide.
- If you have an outdoor ceiling fan, use it when spending time outside; moving air can keep mosquitoes away.
- If conditions are right, mosquitoes can thrive indoors just as well as outdoors. Be sure to fix any leaking faucets or pipes, don’t overwater your houseplants and change out the water in your pets’ water bowls regularly to get rid of mosquitoes inside your home.
- Mosquitoes may be more attracted to dark colors than to light ones, so when you’re spending time outdoors, wear light-colored clothing, preferably with long sleeves and pant legs that leave less skin exposed. You can also use a repellent product containing DEET, or, if you want to avoid chemicals, try DEET-free products designed to repel mosquitoes with other scents such as eucalyptus or lemon oil. (Just don’t be surprised if these more natural products are less effective and for shorter periods of time than their chemical-based counterparts.)
- If possible, avoid spending time outdoors during peak mosquito activity times—namely, at dawn and dusk, and during nighttime hours.
Unfortunately, while you can diligently prevent standing water from forming in your home or on your property, keep your yard clear of leaves and debris and generally do your best to keep mosquitoes from breeding in and around your living space, you can’t control what your neighbors do. This is just one reason among many why it’s often best to hire a pest control specialist with extensive experience in mosquito control to manage your pest problem. These pest management professionals have access to all the latest in products and techniques to keep mosquitoes away from your home and yard.
Additionally, as the weather warms up, many of us tend to spend more time outdoors. Whether we are attending a neighborhood block party or hosting a dinner party in our backyard, when we’re enjoying ourselves, the day can quickly turn into night. When this happens, you’ll need to have measures in place to keep mosquitoes away when it’s dark out.
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away At Night
Evening and nighttime can be pleasant for spending time outdoors during the warmer months, and many people take advantage of this by going on camping trips or spending time in their yards even after it gets dark. However, these types of activities may put you at greater risk of mosquito encounters. Some people are even bothered by mosquitoes at night in their own homes while they sleep! For any or all of these reasons, you might wonder how to keep mosquitoes away at night. Are there certain tricks or techniques that can keep you safe from their bites in the darkness? And why are mosquitoes still active when it’s dark out, anyway? Is nighttime their peak activity time?
Even if you’ve heard that there are “peak activity” times for mosquitoes, you may also have noticed that it seems as if these pests are always active, day and night. This is because there are about 200 different mosquito species active in the United States, and each one has its own, unique peak activity time. That means that, unfortunately, there might not be a time when you’re safe from mosquito bites in your area. There might be multiple species present in one house, yard or neighborhood, and those species might be most active in the morning hours, during daylight hours, at dusk or at night—which leaves you vulnerable to mosquito bites no matter what time it is.
There are things you can do, however, to minimize your chances of being bitten. First, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much exposed skin as possible if you spend time outside at night, or light-colored pajamas if there are mosquitoes active inside your home. You can also use mosquito repellent products to deter these annoying insects from biting you while camping. Reduce both indoor and outdoor mosquito activity by eliminating all sources of standing water: Dump out flower pots, watering cans and planters after a rain; improve drainage so water doesn’t puddle up in your yard; and fix any leaky pipes and faucets, whether indoors or outdoors. While you may have heard that planting mosquito repellent plants around your yard can keep these pests away, like bracelets, these steps aren’t usually very effective.
If mosquitoes are an ongoing problem for you at home, your safest and most efficient approach is likely to contact a mosquito control specialist who can address the problem from multiple angles. Pest control professionals can tap into the most effective technologies, products and strategies for eliminating mosquitoes at all stages of their life cycle.
ABC Can Implement Effective Mosquito Control Measures
While there are many wonderful things about warmer weather, the return of mosquitoes can make us miserable. Fortunately, at ABC Home & Commercial Services we have many different tools at our disposal to control mosquitoes on the properties of our residential and commercial customers. Our specialists can create a solution that is tailored to your home and yard, so you, your family members and your friends can freely enjoy time outside during the warmer months.