After spending winter indoors, we’re all itching to head outside for a bit of sunshine and fresh air. Whether you’re playing in the garden or hosting a barbeque, the warm weather brings another source of itching: mosquitoes.
Bites from these pesky little bugs are uncomfortable and occasionally even deadly. They can raise red welts and more seriously spread diseases like malaria, Zika, West Nile and more.
You may have already tried to keep them off your skin — but the best solution is to keep them away from your outdoor space entirely.
Happily, there are a number of ways to keep them away. And we’re not just talking bug zappers, though you can always hang a couple of those around your home’s exterior areas.
It’s best to go on the offensive and rid your property of these tiny invaders before they ruin your summer fun. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes entirely.
1. Dump the Standing Water
Mosquitoes will lay eggs practically anywhere that stagnant water can collect, including rainwater in the bottom of a garbage can, swampy potted plants, and debris-clogged gutters. Drain ’em all.
If you have a bird bath or kiddie pool change the water a few times a week, or get a fountain. (Mosquitoes can’t lay eggs in running water.)
Alternatively, consider using larvicide biscuits — also known as mosquito dunks. They are safe for humans, pets, and even tadpoles, but will stop larvae from hatching.
If you’ve got a swimming pool, no worries — the chlorine and the filters will prevent it from turning into a mosquito nursery.
2. Install Fans
Ever notice how bugs don’t seem as bad on breezy evenings?
Mosquitoes only fly about 1 to 1.5 mph. Even a light wind will make it difficult for them to land on you.
More importantly, a fan disperses the carbon dioxide you exhale, which is what attracts them in the first place. It also cools you down, which dries up the sweat mosquitos love. Moral of the story? Place a few weatherproof fans around your patio to keep the insects at bay.
3. Landscape Your Yard
The bitty bloodsuckers are drawn to places that are damp, dark and cool. Take some time to prune your trees, trim your shrubs and manicure your lawn, and let the sun shine in to your property.
Also, lay down some cedar mulch, which both naturally repels mosquitoes and soaks up excess ground water.
4. Bring In Some Natural Predators
You may hate mosquitoes, but there are things that love them — to eat, that is.
All manner of migratory songbirds, sparrows, and swallows feast on skeeters. Consider hanging a few bird feeders throughout your yard to attract them.
And if you don’t mind bats, they’ll eat a ton of the buggers. Install a few bat houses and you’ll soon see their dark shapes flitting above your head at night, doing good work.
Got a good-sized pond? Stock some koi, goldfish and even red-eared slider turtles in it. They’ll help get the biting bug population under control as well.
5. Sprinkle Coffee Grounds
If you’ve done all you can to eliminate excess moisture in your yard and you still have standing water, there’s a solution.
Just scatter coffee grounds on the puddles, which will kill any larvae by suffocation. You can also burn excess grounds, which repels the adult insects.
6. Light Candles or Lanterns
Citronella have been the go-to candles for warding off mosquitos for just about forever, but nowadays there are far more options than simply this tried-and-true favorite, including waxes containing geraniol.
Also, look for all-in-one lighting and mosquito-repelling gadgets from brands like Thermacell. Yellow and LED lights, which are less attractive to the pest than traditional white bulbs, should also prove successful in helping stave off swarms.
7. Dress Smart
You can only do so much to protect your yard from mosquitoes. After all, if your neighbor has standing water right by your fence, they can fly right over to bite you.
So, after getting your yard in shape, your last line of defense should be spritzing yourself with bug spray.
You can also try dressing in loose, light-colored, long-sleeved clothes, which mosquitoes find less attractive than dark hues. And unless you’re absolutely dying to wear those new sandals, cover up your feet. Mosquitos zero in on bacteria- and sweat-laden areas of the body, so they’ll head for your toes first.
8. Plant Natural Deterrents
Citronella isn’t just a candle scent — it’s actually a plant that is surprisingly easy to grow. And there are plenty of other plants that drive away hungry insects.
Savory herbs like lemongrass, basil, peppermint, rosemary, lavender and sage as well as flowers including geraniums, chrysanthemums and marigolds all help deter the biting critters. One caveat: you generally have to crush the leaves or petals up and rub them on your skin to get any benefits.
9. Safeguard Your House
Sometimes, mosquitoes have the audacity to invade our hearth and home. In this case, make sure sure you block their access — often a torn screen — before hunting them down.
You can purchase a mosquito trap online or at hardware stores.
You can also squirt yourself with a mixture of coconut oil, neem oil and water before bed. It’s an all-natural repellent that will last through the night.
And if worse comes to worst? Mosquito netting is a time-honored way to keep the biting insects away as you safely slumber.
Jill Gleeson is a travel journalist and memoirist based in the Appalachian Mountains of western Pennsylvania who has written for websites and publications including Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Country Living, Washingtonian, Gothamist, Canadian Traveller, and EDGE Media Network. Jill is the travel editor for Enchanted Living. Learn more about her journey at gleesonreboots.com.