Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.
Mosquito bites are itchy, annoying and potentially dangerous, with the ability to spread disease-causing viruses such as West Nile or Zika.
We’ll show you how to get rid of mosquitoes with some of the best store-bought and home remedies for repelling and killing mosquitoes, indoors and out.
Mosquitoes are usually the most annoying when you’re trying to enjoy your yard. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding and protect yourself from bites with outdoor remedies.
1. Get Rid of Standing Water
Adult female mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, and their larvae feed on the algae and organic material that grows in puddles. So, getting rid of stagnant water is the first step in eliminating mosquitoes.
It only takes a thimble-sized amount of water for eggs to hatch. Even raindrops collected on a leaf can be enough. Even though you can’t eliminate all the moisture in your yard, you can minimize mosquito breeding by following these steps:
- Water your lawn the proper amount so excess water doesn’t pool.
- Clean gutters at least twice a year so they don’t hold water.
- Install a pump on decorative ponds or fountains to keep the water moving.
- Drain birdbaths.
- Empty saucers beneath flower pots.
- Don’t leave pet water bowls sitting outside.
- Bring buckets, children’s toys and anything else that might collect water inside before it rains.
It’s simple: The less standing water in your yard, the fewer mosquitoes you’ll have to deal with this summer.
2. Apply Larvicides
If it’s been a wet spring and you suspect adult mosquitoes have converted your yard into breeding grounds, larvicides are your best defense. These are applied directly to the water where hatchlings may be waiting, preventing them from ever reaching adulthood.
The most useful larvicide products are disc-shaped mosquito dunks containing BTI, a natural bacterium that kills mosquito larvae but doesn’t harm other living things. Drop a mosquito dunk into standing water, and it will stay afloat, slowly dissolving and distributing the BTI.
3. Keep Mosquito Spray Handy
When you’re stocking up for your next barbecue, don’t forget to grab plenty of mosquito-repellent spray. Look for products containing picaridin or DEET, which are effective and generally considered safe. Avoid repellents with permethrin, which can cause severe problems for your pets.
Keep in mind that most repellents, even the safe ones, contain chemicals and should be used with caution. Always follow the instructions on the label. If you want a chemical-free option, look for natural repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus.
4. Use Foggers for Large Areas
If you’re hosting a big party or event in your yard, you might want to use a mosquito fogger, a machine that creates a mist of insecticides to kill any mosquitoes in the vicinity. Foggers are generally considered the best mosquito repellents for yards because they cover a larger area than aerosol sprays.
You can purchase a mosquito fogger at your local home supply store. Pick up a fogger before any big summer event and fog your backyard on that day for up to 12 hours of coverage (depending on the specific product you use).
5. Invite Natural Predators
Instead of commercial mosquito-killing products, you can introduce or invite natural predators into your yard to hunt down the mosquitoes for you. Try attracting birds, frogs, dragonflies, damselflies or spiders, all of which prey on mosquitoes. Or set up a bat house in your backyard.
6. Wear Protective Clothing
Mosquitoes can’t bite you if they can’t reach your skin. Wear thick pants and shirts that cover as much skin as possible when you’re planning to be outside for much time during mosquito season.
Of course, wearing lots of clothes in the middle of summer isn’t the most appealing idea. When you don’t feel like covering up, that’s when repellent sprays come in handy.
7. Plant Floral or Herbal Deterrents
Another option can combine beautiful plantings and delightful scents. Many scented plants that are pleasant for humans are overwhelming for mosquitoes.
Some of the best pest-repelling plants for your garden include:
A blend of the right herbs and flowers can be just as effective as DEET, the leading chemical insect deterrent.
8. Place Dryer Sheets Strategically
Mosquitoes hate the smell of dryer sheets, too. In a pinch, you can place dryer sheets wherever you don’t want mosquitoes congregating, such as near coolers and food tables.
9. Close Windows and Doors
The best way to prevent mosquitoes in your home is to keep your doors and windows closed as much as possible. For complete protection, make sure there are no holes or breaks in screens that they could sneak through.
10. Make a DIY Mosquito Repellent
You don’t want to spray chemical mosquito repellents indoors. The fumes can linger for a long time, and there’s a much higher risk of inhaling them than there is outside. Instead, try making a chemical-free DIY mosquito spray for indoor use.
DIY mosquito-repellent recipe:
- 40 drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, camphor oil, tea tree oil or basil oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or 1/3 cup witch hazel
Combine these ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the mixture around your home. Homemade mixes will be effective for a few hours but will need to be reapplied.
When to Call a Mosquito Control Professional
Pest control experts work indoors and out, and they’re versed in the safest and most effective ways to get rid of your mosquitoes. A licensed professional can help you control mosquitoes with products and measures that are safe for humans and their furry friends.
If you live in an area where disease-carrying mosquitoes are likely, or if someone in your home is seriously allergic, it’s a no-brainer to call in support. Or you might want to call in a pest control pro if you’re just prone to bites (mosquitoes love sweet smells and O-type blood).
The good news is that you don’t have to keep slapping yourself and scratching your ankles all summer long. There are many products available to keep mosquitoes away from your backyard party. They might show up uninvited, but at least you can quickly show them the door.
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