Many homeowners invest a significant amount of time and energy into making their outdoor spaces inviting places to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, there is a common pest that often interferes with these well-laid plans: the mosquito. With the wide variety of mosquito control products available, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. One approach you may have heard of is to put plants in your backyard that keep mosquitoes away. Citronella grass, lemongrass, lemon balm, catnip, bee balm, peppermint, rosemary, lavender and basil are all varieties that are purported to be effective for natural mosquito control.
Unfortunately, scientific studies have shown that it’s not the plants themselves that mosquitoes don’t like. It’s actually the oil in the leaves which contains properties that can repel these bothersome biting insects. That means that you would need to crush the leaves of these plants to extract the oils and rub those oils on your skin to keep mosquitoes from landing on you.
If adding these plants to your landscape is not an effective long-term solution for a mosquito problem, what is?
Mosquito Control And Prevention Measures That Work
The best way to keep mosquitoes away is to make your yard less attractive to these creatures in the first place. Similar to other pests, mosquitoes come onto our property in search of the key building blocks of survival: food, water and shelter. Since mosquitoes can reproduce quickly, you’ll need to dedicate most of your efforts in making it more difficult for these creatures to lay their eggs.
Eliminate Potential Breeding Sites
Most species breed in standing water, depositing hundreds of eggs nearby that hatch in a matter of days into larvae which feed off the microorganisms that stagnant water contains. Mosquitoes only require a small amount of moisture to reproduce. Some of the most common mosquito breeding sites include:
- Flower pots and saucers
- Bird baths
- Buckets and other containers
- Toys and plastic swimming pools
- Tree holes
Water that is allowed to sit for at least 7 days collects organic material, including tiny pieces of grass, leaves, bird droppings and soil, giving a mosquito larva an ideal environment in which to develop into an egg-laying adult. To keep your resident mosquito population from exploding, check for any standing water at least weekly in your outdoor spaces. Pay particular attention after a recent rainfall or even after your sprinklers have run. Dump out any containers you see or drain any stagnant water you find. If you can, turn over buckets or fill low-lying spots where you notice moisture tends to accumulate. Change water in any outdoor dog bowls regularly so this organic matter does not build up.
For birdbaths or other sources of water that you can’t easily drain, you can consider adding a mosquito dunk. These products are generally designed to control aquatic insects, so they won’t harm the birds or your pets. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that these insecticides are generally only effective for a month’s time, so you’ll need to replenish these regularly.
Maintain Your Home, Lawn And Landscape Features
Regular maintenance can prevent mosquito harborage areas from developing. For example, when was the last time you cleaned out your gutters? Over time, these materials can build up, leading to moisture issues and even attracting other pests, including termites. Having your gutters regularly cleaned, either by yourself or a professional, can keep your gutters working as they should.
While pools are not generally a source of mosquito problems, since water is constantly circulating, a malfunction can create situation in which water sits for enough time for mosquitoes to breed. Untreated pools can also sometimes become an attractive place for a female to deposit eggs. Even a pool cover in the off-season can allow water to collect, exacerbating a mosquito issue.
One of the advantages of sprinkler systems is that we can “set it and forget it”. However, when a sprinkler head breaks or you have another irrigation problem, water can pool in certain parts of your yard which can provide enough water for a mosquito to reproduce. Having regular checks of your system by a professional can prevent some of these problems from happening. You can also turn your system on and perform your own inspection of each station periodically to make sure there are no repairs that need to be made.
A leaking outdoor faucet can be yet another source of stagnant water. Excess vegetation can also provide an ideal environment for a mosquito to rest. Clear weeds and cut back vines and shrubs to reduce the amount of shelter for mosquitoes, as well as other common household pests. For the same reasons, keep up with your lawn mowing.
If you find that mosquitoes are making their way inside your home, check the screens on your windows or doors to ensure there aren’t any holes allowing these pests to come in. Repair or replace any broken or damaged screens.
Paying attention to and addressing all of these issues can make your outdoor areas less hospitable for mosquitoes.
Make Yourself Less Attractive To Mosquitoes
Eliminating breeding grounds can reduce the growth of your mosquito population, but these methods will not kill the adult mosquitoes which are already on your property. To keep from getting bitten, you can stay indoors during dawn and dusk when temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, as these are the conditions under which some mosquito species are most active. When you do go out, you may consider covering as much of your body as possible with loose-fitting clothing, so that less of your skin is exposed and a mosquito will have a harder time landing on your skin and biting.
Mosquitoes locate us by our scent. Repellents can interfere with a mosquito’s ability to find us. Every person’s biological makeup is slightly different, making some of us more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Perfumes and lotions can even play a role in a mosquito finding its victim. Products with DEET, IR3535, Picardin and oil of lemon eucalyptus (also sometimes referred to as paramenthane-3 or 8-diol) have been proven to be most effective at keeping mosquitoes away. Repellents are most effective when applied to both exposed skin and clothing.
Treat Your Backyard
One of the most frustrating realities of mosquito control is that while we can be vigilant about what we do in our outdoor spaces, our efforts can be derailed by breeding areas that are located just beyond our backyards. That’s why many homeowners experiment with various devices and types of treatments. Bug zappers use ultraviolet light to attract mosquitoes. While the audible sound of an insect being electrocuted in these grids can be satisfying (as well as slightly alarming and startling), the truth is that traps can also kill other beneficial insects and are often ineffective against biting female mosquitoes. Given the number of mosquitoes you may have at any given time, these devices are not likely to be the only type of mosquito control you will need.
After trying different types of DIY methods, many homeowners turn to pest control professionals, who may recommend a number of different types of treatment methods. These licensed technicians have access to scientifically-proven products and can customize a plan for your situation. Interventions may include backpack sprayers, misting systems and mosquito traps. The effectiveness of these active ingredients may degrade over time, so recurring treatments are often required to keep your mosquito population at bay.
ABC Can Help Control Mosquitoes in Your Yard
Mosquito problems can be especially challenging and frustrating for homeowners to handle on their own. When you need a hand maintaining your lawn and keeping your outdoor landscape pest-free, don’t hesitate to contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our experts can customize a solution for your property that will keep mosquitoes away. With ABC’s help, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy your outdoor spaces again.