5 Ways to Control Mosquitos
By mid-summer mosquitos are out in full fury. Wet Mid-Atlantic springs provide the ideal breeding ground where the mosquito population is seeded. No one has ever enjoyed a cookout that is overrun with the blood sucking insects. On the other hand, a lot of people, including myself, are opposed to broadcast mosquito treatments that affect bee and butterfly populations. So, here are 5 ways you can reduce the amount of mosquitos and their affects while causing minimal damage to beneficial insects.
2018 was a particularly bad year for mosquitos. We had our typical wet April and may, but we also saw a large amount of rain in the summer, too. There were certain periods where we received rain every day for almost 2 weeks straight! While this is usually good for the grass, it also creates a perfect environment for mosquitos!
1: Citronella Torches and Candles
Using citronella and similar scented torches and candles is a common way to prevent mosquitos, without causing any harm to other insects. These devices are great because they add a warm light ambiance to fires, cookouts, and parties. The oil used to make the candles and torches, typically citronella, wards off mosquitos and some other insects, but it does not harm them. One disadvantage to this method is the small control radius. Personally, I have found citronella candles and tiki torches to only be effective for a 10-15ft radius. Even then, I have still been bitten while sitting directly next to a citronella candle. Additionally, citronella is not one of the best smells, but it beats being bitten by mosquitos!
2: Mosquito Detering Plants
Incorporating plants that ward off mosquitos is a great way to beautify your flowerbeds and stop the pests at the same time. Most people are familiar with the citronella plant, but not very many people know that there are many other, more attractive plants that serve the same purpose. A lot of the plants listed below also attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies. This is one of my favorite ways to reduce the mosquito population because there are so many benefits. The carnivorous pitcher plant is a particularly cool solution because it will actually kill and digest the mosquitos as food.
3: Reduce Mosquito Habitats
This step is relatively simple but takes regular attention and diligence. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. So, to reduce the number of mosquitos in your lawn, you should reduce the amount of standing water on your property. Regularly evaluate your property for nooks and crannies where water can collect and become a breeding ground for these pests. Here are just a few places to consider, but there are many more!
- Kiddy Pools
- Garden Hose
4: Natural Predators
This control method is more experimental, but won’t hurt. Try to introduce predators that will chip away at the mosquito population. There are some very easy steps you can take to attract more mosquito eating critters. Some birds eat mosquitos. One simple thing you can do is install a bird feeder on your property to attract more birds. This method works to some degree but is not great. Another critter you can lure onto your property are bats. Installing a bat house high on a tree provides a safe habitat for them to live. At dusk, they like to go out and eat small insects. However, it can take several weeks for bats to move into your bat house. One more predator you can attract is frogs. They eat insects and larva in water. They are perfect for eating mosquito eggs before they hatch!
5: Essential Oils
This method doesn’t necessarily reduce the number of mosquitos around your property, but it reduces the number of mosquito bites you will get! I think that is just as helpful. Buy high-quality essential oils derived from the mosquito deterring plants listed in method 2. Citronella oil is the most effective. Most essential oils are very powerful, so I recommend mixing 5-15 drops in a cup of water and using a sprayer to apply the solution to your skin. Increase the amount of oil you add until you get the control you desire. This method works fairly well, but the effects do not last long. You will need to keep the spray applicator handy and reapply your solution regularly to get effective bug control.