7 Tips on How to Repel Mosquitoes

Updated: Apr. 17, 2024

Spend more time outdoors relaxing, not chasing away mosquitoes.

mosquitoSurapol Usanakul/Shutterstock

Spending time outside is supposed to be relaxing, enjoyable, but if you’re having to swat away mosquitoes, it’s going to ruin the fun pretty quickly. Although there’s no way to permanently eliminate mosquitoes, there are short-term solutions.(Find out how helpful are mosquito lawn sprays in reclaiming your backyard.)

In this story, we’ll show you seven simple steps that you can take before your party to keep mosquitoes out of your yard. The steps are safe and fast, and most cost just a few bucks. They’ll also help reduce the mosquito population throughout the summer.

Mosquito Myth Busting

Contrary to popular opinion, these often-tried remedies won’t ward off mosquitoes:

  • 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. This homemade mosquito repellent works better.
  • Outdoor foggers and misting systems will temporarily reduce mosquito numbers, but they rise again as soon as the system turns off and the spray dissipates.
  • Spraying garlic will make your yard smell, but it 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 your yard.
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shutterstock_221622679 pruning trees trimming
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Prune Hedges and Mow the Yard

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 yard.

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.

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Eliminate Standing 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. Fixing your yard’s drainage will not only help prevent mosquitoes, it will also keep your yard from becoming an eyesore or, worse, a threat to your home’s foundation.

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Treat Pools of Water

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.

Put Mosquito Dunk into the standing water. These doughnut-shaped briquettes produce a toxic bacterial spore that kills mosquito larvae, but are safe for humans, birds, fish, pets and wildlife. 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.

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Giant Goldfish Near Shore
Rory Eye/Shutterstock

Stock Water Gardens with Fish and Chlorinate Swimming 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 your water feature to mosquitoes. Buy a few goldfish or minnows from a pet store or bait store and add them to your water garden. 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 the container.

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Contact Mosquito Control for Large 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 office. Policies vary from place to place 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.

Plan accordingly. 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.

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Have your Foliage Professionally Sprayed

If mosquito control won’t spray your property, hire an exterminator to spray the foliage. This will help wipe out mosquitoes and other insects for at least a few days if you’re planning an event outdoors. Have this done one to three days before you need it. It can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the size of the job.

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.

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Run Fans at Ground Level

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 listed above.

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.