Overview: Uninvited guests can ruin a party!
No, we're not talking about
the crazy neighbors who live
down the block. We're
talking about mosquitoes,
which can turn an enjoyable outing into a swatfest.
Although there's no way to permanently eliminate
mosquitoes, there are short-term solutions.
In this story, we'll show you seven simple
steps that you can take before your party to
keep away most of the mosquitoes (and other
annoying insects). The steps are safe and fast, and most
cost just a few bucks. They'll also help reduce the mosquito
population throughout the summer.
Send Mosquitoes Packing
Try seven simple strategies to eliminate mosquitoes and enjoy outdoor entertaining.
Tip 1: Prune hedges and mow the yard to reduce shade
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Reduce shady cover
Mosquitoes like shade to escape the midday heat.
Hedges, bushes and tall grass provide shade that shelters
mosquitoes. They need a place to get out of the
heat and sun during the day, so the fewer shaded
areas they find, the less they'll congregate in your
Keep the hedges and bushes trimmed, and mow
the yard at least once a week. Mow or till weedy spots
to minimize shade and to keep these marginal areas
from becoming overgrown jungles. Encourage your
neighbors to do the same. Otherwise, you'll just drive
the mosquitoes next door—and they'll come back
often to visit.
Tip 2: Eliminate standing water
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Thimbleful of water
Mosquitoes can lay eggs in tiny amounts of water.
It's no surprise that mosquitoes are attracted to water, but
it is surprising how little water it takes for mosquitoes to
breed and multiply. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in just a
thimbleful of water, which means that anything that
holds even a tiny bit of water can be home
to mosquito larvae.
Find and empty these water
sources. Dispose of or drain
water from old tires, buckets,
unused kids' pools, bases of
flowerpots, furniture, toys,
boats and trailers left outside. Keep
the gutters clean so water can't accumulate.
Fill tree and stump holes
with mortar. Slope ditches so they
drain, and fill swampy areas
Tip 3: Treat pools of water
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Chemically treat small pools
Treat pools of water you can't drain to kill mosquito larvae.
Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get rid of standing
water. And sometimes, like when you have a small
pond, you just don't want to.
Pour a tiny amount of Agnique MMF mosquito
larvicide in the water so that a thin layer covers the
surface. It'll suffocate the larvae (and any other insects
in the water) without harming fish. (Buy it online at
myadapco.com or ehrlichdistribution.com.) Or put Mosquito Dunk into the water.
These doughnut-shaped briquettes produce a toxic
bacterial spore that kills mosquito larvae, but won't
harm fish or animals. One briquette lasts for 30 days.
Large bodies of water may require more briquettes.
The Mosquito Dunk doesn't repel mosquitoes; it prevents
breeding. Find it at home centers in six-pack quantities.
It's also available at lowes.com and other sites.
Mosquito Myth Busting
Contrary to popular opinion, these
often-tried remedies won't ward
- Citronella candles are no more
effective than other candles at
keeping mosquitoes away.
Candle smoke in general may
have a limited effect. Likewise,
planting Citrosa geraniums
won't repel mosquitoes.
- Outdoor foggers and misting
systems will temporarily
reduce mosquito numbers,
but they rise again as soon as
the system turns off and the
- Spraying garlic will make your
yard smell like an Italian dinner
but does little else.
- Bug zappers attract and kill
thousands of insects, but most
of them aren't mosquitoes. They
kill only a small number of mosquitoes
in the area. (Ironically,
they zap a lot of insects that
prey on mosquitoes.)
- Placing propane gas traps in
your yard will effectively capture
many mosquitoes, but again,
only a small fraction of those in
- Ultrasonic devices have no
repellency value at all, according
- Building bat towers and
purple martin houses to attract
potential mosquito predators
has been proven useless. Bats
and purple martins rarely feed
Tip 4: Stock water gardens with fish and chlorinate swimming pools
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The fish solution
Goldfish or minnows will eat mosquito larvae in pools.
When water is part of your landscaping
or used for recreation, you don't want to
drain it. But that doesn't mean you have
to surrender it to mosquitoes. Buy a few
goldfish or minnows from a pet store or
bait store and add them to your water
garden. They may only live for one season,
but they'll eat mosquito larvae.
Chlorinate water that remains standing
for a long period, like water in swimming
pools, saunas and hot tubs. Follow
the manufacturer's recommendations
for the safe use of chlorine. Keep pools
covered when not in use. For small fountains,
birdbaths and wading pools that
you don't want to chlorinate, simply
change the water once a week to dispose
of mosquito larvae. Sweep surfaces with
a brush to knock off eggs before refilling
Tip 5: Contact your local Mosquito Control District for large infestations
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Mosquito control officials
Call your local mosquito control officials for advice and help with big infestations.
Large wooded areas, ponds and lakes are havens for mosquitoes.
It's almost impossible to treat these areas yourself,
so call in the big guns—your local Mosquito Control
District. Local policies vary and services
are localized, but often, when
the number of mosquitoes reaches
a certain level, Mosquito Control
will spray for them. This is also a good idea
if mosquitoes are swarming your yard
in unusually high numbers.
Make the call about two weeks before
your party. It'll take time for Mosquito
Control to come out, conduct the test, and
if needed, spray. Keep in mind that specific criteria
must be met before Mosquito Control will spray private
property. Your mosquito problem may not meet the
threshold, but it's worth a call.
Tip 6: Have your foliage professionally sprayed
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Professional exterminators will treat your yard with insecticide.
If Mosquito Control won't
spray your property, hire
an exterminator to spray
the foliage. This ensures a
swat-free party by wiping
out mosquitoes and other
insects for at least a few
days. Have this done one to
three days before your
party. Expect to pay $135
for a yard of less than half
an acre and $225 for a yard up to an acre.
For a (nearly) mosquito-free summer,
have the foliage sprayed monthly (about
$350 for the summer for a small yard).
Although you can buy sprays yourself,
we recommend leaving the application of
insecticides to the pros. They can buy more
effective treatments that are restricted to
licensed exterminators. They also know
which to use and how much to apply to kill
the mosquitoes without posing a hazard to
other critters. When used according to the
label, the insecticides pose minimal risk to
humans and pets.
Tip 7: Run fans at ground level during the party
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Rapid air movement confuses the mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are particularly attracted to body odors and the carbon dioxide we exhale
when breathing. They allow mosquitoes to home in on us—and that's when the biting
starts. Dissipating these telltale human signs makes us harder to find. So, right before the
guests arrive for your party, set fans on the ground and turn them on to break up the scent
patterns. This simple solution is surprisingly effective for spur-of-the-moment events, when you can't use the measures
Because of their light weight, mosquitoes are
weak flyers. The breeze from the fans makes it
difficult for them to fly,
keeping them out of
your party zone.
How to Avoid Mosquito Bites
Despite your best efforts, a few
mosquitoes will probably crash
your party. Follow these steps to
keep them from harassing you:
- Replace outside bulbs with yellow
“bug” bulbs, which attract
fewer mosquitoes than traditional
lights. Find them at home centers
($2.50 for two 60-watt bulbs).
- Apply a light coat of an insect
repellent containing DEET on
- Spray an insect repellent that
contains permethrin on your
clothes (not directly on your
skin). Studies have shown that a
combination of permethrin on
your clothes and DEET on your
skin effectively keeps away mosquitoes
and other insects. Follow
the manufacturer's directions;
overapplying can be dangerous.
- You can outfit the whole family in
clothes that have been factory
treated with an insect repellent.
The repellent lasts for about 25
washings. One source is ExOfficio
(exofficio.com). Men's T-shirts start at about $30.