Did you know mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on the planet, causing more deaths annually than sharks, snakes, wolves, lions, crocodiles, tigers, bears and humans combined? Crippling, sometimes fatal diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Zika, West Nile virus and more are all spread by mosquitoes.
Roughly 700 Million people on Earth contract a mosquito-borne illness likes these each year—1 million of these die.
During the height of breeding season, these parasites outnumber every other animal on the planet, except for termites and ants. Unfortunately, mosquito bites don’t affect only humans, they also transmit life-threatening parasites and illnesses such as heartworm disease in animals like dogs, cats and horses, too.
With spring just around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for mosquitoes. BBQs, outdoor birthday parties and events, swimming—all activities in your backyard—are threatened by these harmful insects. However, there are steps you can take to protect your yard and family from mosquitoes. There’s no need to resort to toxic insecticides, either. Instead, follow these non-toxic tips to mosquito-proof your yard this mosquito season.
Remove Possible Breeding Sites
The first and arguably most important step to keeping mosquitos out of your yard is to get rid of all potential breeding areas—which primarily means removing all sources of standing water. Mosquito eggs often remain attached to receptacles even after they’ve been drained, so be sure to thoroughly clean, not just empty, all areas where water has collected. Here’s what to do:
- Remove pet bowls, buckets, tires, unused lawn equipment—everything that easily catches rainwater
- Change and clean bird bath water regularly, or, better yet, empty them during mosquito season
- Fix leaky hoses, faucets, sprinklers and clogged drainage areas to prevent pooling water
- Frequently check A/C drip pans for standing water
- Keep pools well-maintained
- Regularly check and clean pool covers and other tarps—these often hold water
- Cover or fill hollow tree stumps and other natural water-collecting reservoirs
- Clean and remove all blockages from gutters and storm drains
- Check flower pots and flower pot drip trays for standing water
- Cover all trash cans and dumpsters
- Remove all additional clutter from your backyard, such as appliances, unused tools, sporting equipment, children’s toys—anything that can potentially hold water
Maintain Your Yard
Mosquitoes love hiding in tall grass, shrubbery and damp, unkempt areas like woodpiles. Keeping your grass short and yard well-maintained is essential to mosquito control.
Treat Your Yard
Treating your yard with an a non-toxic, water-soluble insect repellent, especially before outdoor activities, will significantly reduce the amount of mosquitoes in your backyard. Cedarwood chips are also a natural insect deterrent; sprinkle them throughout your yard—especially along foundations and fence lines—for additional mosquito protection.
Avoid Peak Mosquito Hours
Lack of wind, sunlight and heat make dawn and dusk ideal feeding times for mosquitoes. In the U.S., mosquitoes are least likely to bite in the middle of the day, and most likely to bite just after sunset. Limiting outdoor activity—particularly in wooded, humid and shady areas—during these periods will greatly decrease the chances of being bitten. Wearing clothes that match your surroundings—darker colors at night, lighter clothing in the day—has also been shown to limit mosquito bites. Wearing closed-toe shoes helps, too.
Use Outdoor Fans
Surprisingly, outdoor fans have proven effective at reducing mosquitoes and mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, body heat and body odor. Fans work by dispersing and redirecting these attractants throughout the air, diminishing not only the appearance of mosquitos in your yard but also the likelihood of getting bitten.
Use Mosquito-Repelling Plants
The following plants are known to have mosquito-repelling properties. Place or plant them in areas where you spend the most time outside:
- Marigolds’ distinct aroma is a natural insect repellent
- Basil’s strong scent naturally deters mosquitoes and other insects
- Catnip has been shown to be 10x more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET
- Lavender, in both living and dry form, actively repels mosquitoes
- Lemon balm attracts beneficial insects like bees, but repels mosquitoes
- Peppermint’s smell helps drive away mosquitoes. It can also be crushed for use as an effective mosquito bite relief treatment
- Rosemary has a long history of use as a mosquito repellent
- Citronella’s strong smell can help mask carbon dioxide and body odor, in effect, hiding you from mosquitoes
- Pennyroyal, both crushed and fresh, helps to repel mosquitoes
Team Up With Your Neighbors
Regardless of how many preventative measures you take, if your neighbors don’t pitch in, they might not do any good. Managing and implementing mosquito control best practices—removing standing water, lawn care, etc—is almost always a team effort.