Nothing will shut a backyard cookout down faster than mosquitoes. No one likes the bites or the itching, so what can you do? Years ago you may remember the bug man driving through your neighborhood trailing a chemical fog of DEET insecticide, a potent nerve toxin that renders an insect paralyzed. Once praised for its ability to eradicate the pesky mosquito, DEET has proven to do more harm than good. Still, with the threat of Malaria and West Nile virus looming in all that buzz, a solution is needed.
The Natural Way to Battle Mosquitoes
Today many choose to go a more natural route in the war against the mosquito. Totally wiping them out is a wonderful dream, although not realistic. There are things you can do to put a dent in the mosquito population in your yard. Here are a few tips:
- Eliminate standing water – Walk around your yard and turn over anything that holds even the smallest amount of water. The female mosquito lays her eggs in as little as two tablespoons of water. They hatch in a mere seven days.
- Check for low spots in your yard – Look for areas that may need to be re-graded or have a French drain installed to prevent standing water or marshy ground.
- Trim the shrubs and bushes around your house – Overgrowth is where mosquitoes love to hide during the heat of the day. Eliminating the brush and weeds will give them nowhere to lurk.
- Treat water features and fish ponds – Add mosquito dunks made of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that’s harmless to wildlife, pets and people, to any permanent water source. It keeps the mosquito larvae from hatching.
- Aerate ornamental ponds – Keep the water moving in these features to prevent female mosquitoes from laying eggs.
- Tie your tarps tightly – Water can gather in the folds of the tarps you are using to cover things like firewood, gas grills and boats. Pull the tarps tightly around these items to keep water out. The same goes for market umbrellas – close tightly when not in use, being careful to brush free of spider webs or trapped insects upon re-opening.
- Toss any unnecessary items – You may have been saving that tire for a kid’s swing, but leaving it sitting to collect water only allows mosquitoes to breed inside. Toss it!
- Treat your yard – You can purchase spray insecticides as well as granules that can be applied to the yard. These will not hurt pets or small children and can last up to three weeks.
- Keep your gutters clean – These are the most overlooked culprits around your house. Clean them out and make sure downspouts are clog free.
- Inspect your screens and doors – You should have 18″ x 14″ mesh wire in your screens and doors to keep bugs out. Make repairs to any holes or loose fittings you detect.
Mosquitoes Driving You Batty?
If you do have to be outside during peak mosquito times – mid to late afternoon – wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Shoes, socks and even gloves will help keep you bite-free. Burning citronella candles has proven to be effective in keeping the pests away. If you want a totally natural deterrent, then place a bat house in your yard. Bats are said to eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour.
The Smell of Success
Add a few plants like Citronella Grass, a low maintenance plant that grows best in a container, to help your yard ward off mosquitoes naturally. Make sure to buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are the true varieties that ward off mosquitoes.
Plants like Lavender and Lemon Grass give off a scent that the insects hate when their leaves are crushed. Press a few leaves in your hand and rub the scent on your skin to ward off the pesky predators. Try locating some of these plants near your patio and doorway to help set up a “scent barrier” for your home.
- Mexican Marigolds
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Grass
- Lemon scented Geraniums
- Lemon Verbena
- Tea Tree
Cat Nip is also effective, planted away from flowers beds – since your cat may decide to roll around in it.
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From pressure washers for cleaning gutters to insect and lawn sprayers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.