In the garden there are beneficial insects and PESKY INSECTS…
A prime example of pesky: The sun is setting and you are just about to enjoy a barbecue outdoors with friends when suddenly, a gazillion mosquitoes swoop in and start biting everyone. Cocktails are spilling as people swat at these annoying, hard to see little devils.
Who can concentrate on what the other is saying with that annoying, high pitched buzz in the ear – arrrgggghhh and unarguably one of the most annoying insects to visit your garden (although there are a few others – did someone say yellow jacket?)
Alas – DDT is no longer an option, but joking aside, here are a few ways to naturally control or repel mosquitoes, starting with the obvious, their breeding places.
7 Natural Tips for Getting Rid of Pesky Mosquitos
1. REMOVE MOSQUITO BREEDING AREAS – You’ve heard it a million times – check for anything around your house that can hold water and make sure it is either emptied or in the case of fountains and pet bowls, refreshed. Standing water of any kind equals a breeding area for mosquitoes. Here’s a short check list from the EPA
- Get rid of standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week to eliminate potential mosquito habitats. Mosquito dunks for standing water are safe and work well.
- Drain temporary pools of water or fill with dirt.
- Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
2. PLANT MOSQUITO REPELLENT PLANTS – in your garden, especially near areas you plan to entertain or wherever you need help deterring mosquitoes. Here is a short list of some of the best options as noted by the New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens via Garden Design:
- Citronella Grass – Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus – this is also the plant that most commonly used in natural mosquito repellents. Depending on where you live it can be planted either in a large pot or directly into the ground.
- Lavander – Lavandula angustifolia – Even though lavender is a smell often enjoyed by humans, lavender repels mosquitoes because mosquitoes dislike the scent lavender gives off.
- Rosemary – not only repels mosquitoes but also some flies and moths. You can also use some varieties for cooking.
- Catnip – Nepeta cataria – One of its main active ingredients, nepetalactone, was found to be 10X stronger than even DEET. Note: While catnip will repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant, some people apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil for more robust protection. Bear in mind, however, that cats will respond to you similarly as they would respond to the plant itself. Cat owners may want to choose an alternative plant for repelling mosquitoes.
- Basil – besides adding great flavor to your evening’s dinner, this herb can also help keep away unwanted insects.
- Scented Geraniums – besides great smells these plants also provide beautiful blooms
3. PUT OUT CITRONELLA CANDLES – these only work for people in close proximity to the candles, and only if it is not too windy out. In short, these are only moderately effective but do factor as a plus in the overall plan of a mosquito free evening.
4. TURN ON A FAN – The New York Times reports that a fan’s breeze “disperses the human emanations that allow female mosquitoes to zero in on us.” Entomologists from Michigan State University found that fan-generated wind greatly reduces mosquitoes and they recommend we use it in our backyards for protection.
5. BURN MOSQUITO COILS – incense coils that can burn for 6 – 12 hours to repel mosquitoes. The active ingredient is Pyrethrum which is made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium. People find these to be fairly effective in warding off mosquitoes, saving one having to apply natural or less than natural mosquito repellents to their skin. The downside to these is that that the smoke they emit is a bit disgusting at a dinner party. They also can be a fire hazard.
6. ATTRACT MOSQUITO PREDATORS – You can set up ‘Bat Boxes’ to ensure there are more bats around your home to gobble up the unwanted mosquitoes or plant more plants that attract dragonflies. Since you are not going to 100% eradicate mosquitoes (and you wouldn’t want to), having a few extra bats to help out great. Here a few tips on choosing a good site for a bat house.
7. PUT UP MOSQUITO NETS – If you really want a mosquito free evening, there are some really inexpensive net options on the market these days. This is a must have if you are in a very mosquito prone area and love spending evenings outdoors. Going in and out of the net can be a hassle – just make sure guest remember to close all the flaps. Note: this solution is for small groups only. Pictured right is the Living Accents Mosquito Netting available on Amazon
Enjoy your mosquito free evening!