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16 Ways to Win the War Against Mosquitoes

Take back your summer nights and family get-togethers!

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Avoid Scented Body Products

 

Although some scents work as a repellent for mosquitoes, other body lotions or perfumes can actually attract these pests. The best thing to do is stay away from fancy smelling perfumes, colognes, body washes or lotions if you plan on spending time outside during high mosquito activity hours. These hours are typically dusk to dawn between April and October

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Arbor benchFamily Handyman

Wear Light-Colored Clothing


Turns out, mosquitoes are attracted to darker colored materials. As for the length, if you can cover up, you should do so. Wearing long sleeves and pants will significantly reduce the number of mosquito bites you accumulate by the end of the evening. 

If you’re in need of some new pieces of clothing and want to kill two bugs with one stone, so to speak, ExOfficio is one brand that sells mosquito repellent clothing for men and women.

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shrubFamily Handyman

Prune Hedges and Mow the Yard to Reduce Shade

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 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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amazon

Switch to Bug Bulbs

 

LOHAS are one of several companies that produce a yellow light bulb that can keep bugs away outside. Simply screw these babies into your outdoor light fixtures to naturally keep the bugs at bay.

“I never thought I would write a review for a lightbulb, but these things are awesome,” writes one satisfied Amazon customer. “I was looking for a yellow colored light for my porch that would keep the bugs away and also reduce light pollution. I put these in about a month ago and they have been perfect. Bugs at our door are reduced about 95% so we don’t have to dread opening the door at night and being swarmed.”

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James Keck/Getty Images

Remove Standing Water

Having accessible water sources around your home will draw in mosquitoes. Why? Because mosquitoes actually lay their eggs in standing or slow moving water. By cutting these water sources, you are cutting the number of mosquitoes laying eggs around your home — and in return, having fewer mosquitoes around the house in general. 

Some of the biggest culprits of water sources include unused tires, cans, pools and pool covers. Any plastic containers or ceramic pots for planting that are empty and collect water should be removed. Make sure to clean out your gutters as much as possible, and always keep an eye out for water build up around the house. Bird baths are also an easy target for mosquitoes! 

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how to make a backyard fish pondFamily Handyman

Treat Water Features

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. You can also use Mosquito Dunk in 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 product doesn’t repel mosquitoes; it prevents breeding.

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Keep Fish Ponds Stocked

Goldfish, koi, minnows and guppies will all 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 some koi, a few goldfish or minnows from a pet store or bait store and add them to your water garden.

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Vereshchagin Dmitry/Shutterstock

Chlorinate Swimming Pools

Be sure to 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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Call in the Authorities for Large Infestations

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.

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Gardener applying an insecticide fertilizer to his fruit shrubs, using a sprayerFotokostic/Shutterstock

Have Your Yard Professionally Treated

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.

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Contemporary system of fans with pulverizes spraying water with air and cooling air outdoors in hot summertimeDemkat/Shutterstock

Run Fans at Ground Level

Rapid air movement confuses mosquitoes. 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 entertainment area.

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, 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 or gatherings.

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Lemon Eucalyptus Plant Bug RepellentJIPEN/Shutterstock

Try Lemon Eucalyptus

This may seem like a myth, but oil from lemon eucalyptus is actually recommended by multiple government sources as an insect repellent (including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). If you’re looking for a more natural remedy for how to keep mosquitoes away, this oil will do the trick.

Lemon eucalyptus is an effective natural oil to use as a mosquito repellent, with sharp-scented compounds proven to drive mosquitoes away, though it doesn’t last as long as other sprays.

Note: This is a potent home bug repellent and is not child or pet friendly.

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wildflowers lavenderSubbotina Anna/Shutterstock

Try Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is a very common ingredient in homemade bug repellents. If a recipe calls for citrus oils, neem oil, lemon eucalyptus, clove, or cedarwood oils, you can also add a little lavender oil. This will help improve the fragrance.

But you can also use lavender oil by itself in a mixture similar to the citrus oil recipe for a home bug repellent. It won’t be quite as effective as some other options, but if you can’t stand the smell of other oils, it’s certainly worth a try as an alternative.

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neem oil bug repellentmirzamlk/Shutterstock

DIY Neem Spray

Much like lemon eucalyptus, neem oil is known to contain compounds that insects heartily dislike. That means you can use it as an effective repellent.

It is derived from evergreen neem trees, which are native to India and known for potent fruits and seeds. Add a couple tablespoons of the oil into your witch hazel spray and try it out. If the spray isn’t mixing well even when you shake it, you can also add a little vegetable glycerin (a.k.a glycerol, a clear, odorless liquid typically made from palm, soy or coconut oil) to help the ingredients combine.

Neem oil works best when combined with more fragrant oils.

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Cloves Spray OilAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Try Cloves Spray

You can also use clove oil (or even add a few whole cloves to your spray bottle) for an enhanced repellent that can better deter insects. Clove oil is quite potent though, so don’t apply it directly to your hands or leave it on your skin overnight.

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Peppermint essential oilCatalina M/Shutterstock

Try a Peppermint and Castor Oil Combo

Peppermint and castor oil are also both well-regarded as repellents. Plus, the peppermint smells great! But go easy on the peppermint oil at first, as it can be surprisingly potent compared to other essential oils.