How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes: The Ultimate Guide
Summer’s in full swing, bringing its usual bounty of barbecues, pool parties, and other (slightly sweaty) festivities. But along with the popsicles and sandals come those universally hated pests: mosquitoes. From mosquito breeding habits, to effective ways to keep mosquitoes out of your yard, to a comprehensive guide for mosquito repellents, to recommendations for outdoor and indoor do-it-yourself remedies, our guide to getting rid of mosquitoes covers it all.
Read ahead for tips on how to turn the tide against these bloodsucking pests, so you can get back to enjoying the burgers and bathing suits.
Mosquito Breeding: “Know Your Enemy”
Before getting into the various home remedies to help deter mosquitoes, it’s important to understand what often leads to the problem in the first place. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, or any space that’s sufficiently moist. Where they specifically lay their eggs varies between species, but the common factor between all of them is that they’re seeking stagnant water. Here’s a list of common locations for stagnant water buildup:
- Watering cans
- Bird baths
- Pots and planters
All this just means you can win most of the battle against mosquitoes means disrupting pools of stagnant water. While mosquitoes will still be able to wander in from elsewhere, eliminating the areas where mosquitoes can lay their eggs will greatly reduce the amount of mosquitoes in your yard. You can do this by:
- Tipping over buckets, kiddie pools, etc.
- Throwing out or moving random objects in your yard that can hold water, like old tires and planters
- Drilling holes in the bottom of swings
- Cleaning your gutters to allow proper drainage
- Grooming plants that provide shade and various biological resources
- Tightening tarps covering grills, firewood, etc, instead of letting them sag and store water
Mosquito Repellent Active Ingredients: The Comprehensive List
An investigation into what’s in your bug spray can seem daunting. What the heck is diethyltoluamide anyway? Have no fear; we’ve got the simple breakdown and comparison guide right here for you. Here are the three active ingredients in mosquito repellents that are recommended by Consumer Reports, the CDC, and the American Mosquito Control Association.
DEET is a compound developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and became available to the public back in the 50’s. (It’s also the one with the weird chemical name in the previous paragraph.) Despite decades of scientific testing against over 20,000 other compounds, it remains the most effective and longest-lasting active ingredient against a wide variety of insects. Though recent studies suggest that it can be harmful in high concentrations, both Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that children older than two months can confidently use products with up to 30% DEET. The common recommendation is to use the lowest concentration that suits your purposes, but the lower limit for effective DEET repellent is 10% concentration, 20% for those in tick country. If you’re still concerned about the safety of DEET, the next two ingredients have an effectiveness that approaches this compound.
Picaridin is a more recently developed active ingredient, modeled after a compound found in the black pepper plant. In Consumer Reports’ guide, it actually ranks a 20% picaridin product as its number one repellent overall. Just ensure that you use a product with a high enough concentration to be effective. Like DEET, it should not be used on children younger than two months.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)
OLE is the only naturally occurring compound in this section. Consumer Reports indicates that when used in concentrations of 30%, it was the only effective plant oil in its tests. However, it should not be used on children younger than the age of three, and it can cause skin irritation in higher concentrations.
Mosquitoes are seemingly infinite, and accordingly, annoyed barbecue-goers have developed countless do-it-yourself solutions to get rid of them. But like most things cooked up angrily in a backyard, the effectiveness of these solutions varies wildly and their consequences can be dangerous.
On the less intrusive end of the spectrum are methods like using repellent candles, which often contain the plant product citronella. These can be decent short-term relief for an occasion like a party, where you’d like to give your defenses a little boost for the evening. However, buying enough of them to distribute around a yard can be quite expensive, and isn’t the best strategy to solve your problem so much as put it on hold for a night. There are various natural plants said to also have mosquito repelling properties, though their effectiveness is similarly limited.
On the more involved end of the spectrum are outdoor foggers and bug sprays. However, these spray chemicals that can be highly dangerous if used incorrectly, so exercise extreme caution if you go this route. And, keeping with the theme of most of the other solutions in this article, their success can vary widely.
There are also a few unscientific tips floating around the internet, informally tested. Huffington Post recommends leaving out saucers of dish soap, while Home Remedy Hacks recommends setting out sugar and yeast fermentation traps and sprinkling coffee grounds near areas prone to holding stagnant water.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes aren’t limited to existing outside, leading to the question of how to get rid of mosquitoes within the confines of your home. While you could set a sugar yeast fermentation trap in your bedroom, you probably wouldn’t want to. And although a number of plant oils have been marketed as naturally occurring bug repellents, their effectiveness is questionable. The only reliable naturally occurring remedy is OLE and good, old-fashioned mosquito hunting.
If you’ve had enough of mosquitoes raining on everyone’s summer fun, reach out to U.S. Pest’s Residential Pest Control experts for professional help, so you can keep enjoying the outdoors.