As soon as the weather warms up, everyone wants to be outside. Unfortunately, so do the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are small, fly-like insects known for their ability to bite and draw blood. These insects are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world and typically breed near the standing water in your backyard. Whether you’re renting an apartment in Durham, NC, or own a home in Fresno, CA, if you want to enjoy your patio or yard without being bitten, we’re here to help. Check out our tips to make your yard mosquito-free.
First, determine what’s attracting mosquitoes to your yard
Different mosquitoes are attracted to different things. Some common attractants include standing water, sweet scents, and heat. Some mosquitoes come from stagnant water that is not moving, such as puddles, ponds, or marshes. Other mosquitoes come from rivers, lakes, or other moving water sources.
How to get rid of mosquitoes in your yard
Eliminate mosquito breeding sites: standing water
The best way to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds is to remove standing water from the area. This can be done by draining any pools of water, filling in any depressions in the ground that holds water, and making sure that there is no standing water around the perimeter of your home. This includes any containers that are holding water, such as buckets, planters, pet water bowls, or children's toys. If you have a swimming pool, make sure to keep it chlorinated.
Use mosquito dunks to treat standing water
According to a landscape design studio in Portland, OR, Celilo Gardens, “Many homeowners have water features in their gardens. Some water features have re-circulating pumps which keep mosquito larvae from growing because moving water doesn’t allow the larvae to breathe. But some water features are ponds or simply decorative pots of standing water with no water circulation.” That’s where mosquito dunks come in. A mosquito dunk is a donut-shaped, slow-release tablet that contains a natural larvicide. Placing it in standing water kills mosquito larvae for up to 30 days. The number of dunks you will need will depend on the size and depth of your water features or pond and the mosquito population in your area. However, as a general guide, it’s recommended to use 1-2 mosquito dunks for every 100 square feet of pond surface area.
“Mosquito dunks which can be purchased at nurseries, work and do not harm wildlife or pets,” says Celilo Gardens. “And as for those who have ponds in their landscapes with no water circulation, the answer could also be Mosquitofish. These are small fish that feed on mosquito larvae. In Oregon, Multnomah County residents can get free mosquitofish from May 15 - August 30.”
Repel mosquitos with plants and essential oils
Certain plants and herbs can act as mosquito repellents. “Some of these include citronella, marigolds, and lavender, says Brooks Pest Control. “You can also try using essential oils like lemon eucalyptus or tea tree oil as a natural mosquito repellent.”
Landscaping and design-build company Design Scapes recommends trying an herb garden. “Planting herbs in containers around your garden, deck, or patio seating can create a natural mosquito-free zone. Many common herbs are excellent mosquito repellents, as they contain natural essential oils that bugs can’t stand. These herbs include basil, lemongrass, mint, sage, rosemary, and lemon thyme. An added perk - many of these are excellent in the kitchen.”
Attract natural predators to your yard
One approach to reducing the mosquito population in your yard is to encourage natural predators like dragonflies. Dragonflies are especially effective at reducing mosquito populations.
High Quality Landscape Services shares, “One way to encourage dragonflies is to build a rain garden, which are curved-in beds of perennials that absorb water effectively and can add value to your property. Installing a rain garden in your yard is a proactive way to prevent mosquitoes from re-populating, reduce landscape maintenance, and improve property aesthetics.”
Deeply Rooted Landscapes adds, “One of the most effective, enjoyable, and chemical-free ways to get rid of mosquitos in your yard is to invite the animals who prey upon them to help you. Dragonflies, birds, salamanders, bats, and frogs consume mosquitos as part of their diets. Attract these species to your yard by planting lots of native plants that are indigenous to your location. When we plant native plants, we create a habitat for the wildlife around us, and they pay us back with mosquito control, beauty, and so much wonder - your yard is a habitat.”
Install mosquito nets to keep the bugs away from sitting areas
If you have a screened porch or gazebo, mosquito nets can keep you safe from bites. These can be found online or in stores and easily hung from any structure. Be sure to tuck the edges in so the mosquitoes can’t get in.
Target mosquitoes without harming pollinators
There is no surefire way to kill mosquitoes without harming pollinators. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the impact on pollinators. Consider using mosquito traps, natural remedies, or other physical barriers to keep them away. Growing your habitat will naturally encourage species that prey on mosquitoes. You don’t want to harm other insects that are vital to your garden in the process.
Enjoy your mosquito-free backyard
There is no single answer to getting rid of mosquitoes in your yard. You need a multifaceted approach to effectively address the problem. Start by eliminating mosquito breeding sites, using mosquito repellents, and installing protective screens. If you are still experiencing bugs and bites, you can contact your local mosquito control district to see if they offer any services or products that can help.
More articles on backyard design and maintenance:
What is a Trellis? How You Can Take Your Garden to New Heights
Backyard Theater: Everything You Need for Movie Nights Under the Stars
How to Detract Pests and Wildlife From Your Home This Spring
Originally published by Redfin