Creating a Mosquito Free Backyard
There’s so much to love about summer: getting outside to enjoy the longer days with a barbecue or enjoying a friendly game of Wiffle ball with the family … that is until pesky mosquitoes drive you back inside.
Unfortunately, the warmer months also mean mosquitoes. Mosquitoes might seem like an annoyance that you can easily swat away, but they can be a big problem. They not only make it impossible for you to truly enjoy your backyard, but they can also spread diseases. Using bug spray can help keep them away, but they are almost impossible to avoid completely unless you plan to stay inside all summer.
Don’t pack up your outdoor gear just yet! There are actions you can take to greatly reduce, or even eliminate mosquitoes from your backyard this summer. Most are fairly simple and just require a different approach to taking care of your lawn. The payoff can be a summer without itchy bug bites, giving you more time to enjoy your yard.
Avoid Standing Water
The best approach to mosquito control is to keep them from showing up in the first place. You can accomplish that by removing places where they breed. And where do they breed? Anywhere there is standing water. That can include spots as small as a bottle cap, so do a careful inspection of your yard to find any containers of water. This includes kiddie pools, toys, plant trays, garbage cans and gutters. The exception to this rule is a swimming pool, as the chlorine drives them away.
Standing water on your lawn is also an issue. After each rainstorm, check for areas where water seems to pool and takes a while to drain. If it happens regularly in the same area, you may have a drainage issue that needs some work to prevent water from pooling and becoming a breeding ground for insects.
Keep your Grass Cut
In addition to water, mosquitoes like to hang out in cool, shady spots. Shady areas near trees, tall grass or brushy areas are ideal mosquito habitats, so focus on getting rid of those spots. As a bonus, the more sunlight that reaches your yard, the less likely you are to have wet or damp spots that foster mosquito breeding, disease or even mildew.
Use Landscaping to Your Advantage
Some plants are known to help repel mosquitoes naturally and can add to your landscape. Citronella is perhaps the most well-known of these options. Citronella is a clumping grass that emits a strong aroma that covers up other scents and helps keep the bugs away. However, there are also flowering mosquito-repellent plants that can do the trick, including marigolds, pennyroyal and geraniums. If you have always wanted an herb garden, now’s the time to grow one. Common herbs such as basil, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary and garlic can all help repel mosquitoes. Finally, catnip has been shown to be up to 10 times more effective than DEET at keeping mosquitoes from biting, so you can plant it to protect yourself from mosquitoes and keep your feline friends happy.
There’s a reason you see fans on porches in areas known for mosquitoes. Not only do they help keep you cool, but fans can also help keep mosquitoes away. The breeze helps to disperse the carbon dioxide emitted by humans that attracts the bugs, while also making it more difficult for the bugs to land. If you have covered outdoor areas, consider installing ceiling fans; otherwise, just use oscillating fans around the areas where people congregate to drive the bugs away.
Spray Your Landscape
If your mosquito issue is particularly bad, your own efforts haven’t worked or you live near a water source that produces many mosquitoes (such as a pond), then having your landscaping sprayed can solve the problem. The EPA has approved several mosquito repellents that are proven effective at eliminating the majority of the pests, and when applied by a trained professional, they are safe for your family. Before investing in spraying, check to see if your community has a mosquito abatement district and ask them for input. In some areas, homeowners may be able to have their yards treated for no or little cost.
If you don’t have a mosquito abatement district, call a professional company to apply mosquito spray. The best mosquito management companies will inspect your landscaping, make recommendations and develop a mosquito management plan that is designed for your specific property. After the landscape has been sprayed, they will return to check that the chemicals are working. Keep in mind, a professional pesticide company should have a plan in place to protect the insects that aren’t being targeted, including bees and butterflies.
Follow the Light
Citronella candles have long been used to repel mosquitoes, but other forms of light can help with backyard mosquito control as well. Consider replacing your outdoor lightbulbs with so-called “bug lights.” These special bulbs are yellow and emit light at a wavelength that doesn’t attract bugs. Although these lights alone will not keep the mosquitoes away, they can help prevent the large swarms of bugs that tend to happen around lights and reduce the number of mosquitoes near you.
Bug repelling lanterns can also keep the biters at bay. These butane or battery-operated lanterns emit repellent when they are on, giving you light for your evening activities and repellent to keep the bugs away. Stay away from the so-called “bug zapper” lights, though. They don’t measurably decrease the number of mosquitoes in the yard and actually kill more beneficial insects.
The best mosquito control for your backyard requires a multi-faceted approach. Remaining diligent about removing standing water is the best way to keep them away, but when that isn’t enough, more aggressive techniques may be necessary. If you follow these steps, you can effectively reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard and enjoy your time outside this summer.