Wondering how to keep mosquitoes away from your home?
You're in the right place!
In this Pest Strategy guide you can expect to learn:
- What attracts mosquitoes to your home in the first place
- Using Natural and Non-Natural Repellents To Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your House
- Using Sprays & Traps To Kill Mosquito Nesting Areas
- And Much More!
Ready to do a deep dive on mosquito control? Let's do!
Questions about mosquito control multiply nearly as fast as mosquitoes do. This is especially true in the United States when summer hits and those pesky mosquitoes start whining in your ear.
Mosquito bites are itchy and bug spray – of any variety – never seems to do as good as the manufacturers claim it will.
So what is the solution to the never-ending problem keeping mosquitoes away from you and yours?
That’s what we’re here for. We’re going to cover a few things about mosquitoes, their habitat and breeding cycle, the kind of breeding ground they look for (which might be in your backyard), and what options you have for mosquito control, including natural repellents with essential oils in them, various kinds of insect repellent and mosquito traps.
What Attracts Mosquitoes In The First Place?
Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in any kind of depression that will collect water, especially stale, stagnant water. Possible areas around your house would include birdbaths, small swimming or wading pools, flower pots, natural low spots in the ground, and any place with standing water in it.
After eating a blood meal – more on that later – the female will lay her eggs, up to 200 at a time in some cases. In 24-48 hours they’ll hatch into mosquito larva, feeding on algae and tiny microorganisms in the water. In a little over a week, they’ll go through a metamorphosis that turns them into an adult. They leave the water and begin flying around looking for something to eat.
Read Also: What are the most effective mosquito traps?
Half of those adults will be females and after one mating they’ll be ready to start laying eggs. As you can see, the number of mosquitoes can quickly escalate beyond control if you don’t take immediate action.
Here's a good video that actually reviews how Disney World keeps its mosquito population at bay.
Diet and Food Sources
The male mosquito feeds on nectar and plant liquids, the sweeter the better. The female requires the same food as well. But – to lay eggs, she needs protein she has to acquire by drinking some blood.
Each blood meal will give her the energy to develop and lay another 200 eggs. Now you know that every time a mosquito bites you, you just provided her with the protein needed to lay some more eggs. Isn’t that nice?
What attracts mosquitoes to you?
Well, part of it is your body heat. Mosquitoes only feed on mammalian blood so they’re drawn to body heat that indicates the presence of a mammal instead of an amphibian or reptile.
Mosquitoes are also drawn to carbon dioxide, which is what you exhale with every breath you take. This is why mosquitoes are always buzzing around your head. They can detect the carbon dioxide you exhale and they want to be near the source of it.
Vectors for Disease
The problem with mosquitoes is they are vectors (carriers) for numerous diseases such as West Nile virus, yellow fever, zika virus, malaria, and others. They carry the diseases but aren’t affected by them. Every time they bite you, they’re injecting you with whatever disease they may be carrying at the time. As you can see, mosquito infestations can be quite dangerous.
The CDC website contains quite a bit of history about the problems workers faced because of diseases carried by mosquitoes when they were building the Panama Canal. Disease control is a big part of controlling, eradicating, and eliminating mosquitoes around human populations.
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away?
There are four basic categories of methods for keeping mosquitoes away from your home, yard, and patio. Within each category are numerous subdivisions.
The major categories are:
- Using Repellents
- Eradication Of Nearby Harborage Areas
- Exclusion And/Or Physical Barriers (i.e., nets)
- Habitat Modification
We’ll discuss each one in turn, as well as the subdivisions are they come up.
Using Essential Oils As Repellents To Keep Mosquitoes Away
Essential oils have a long history of being utilized for their health benefits as well as their ability to act as an insect repellent for mosquitoes, bed bugs, fleas, and other pests. It is important to note that most of the information available on essential oils is anecdotal in nature, rather than acquired through scientific studies, so take any claims about them with a grain of salt.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural repellent that can be effective in repelling mosquitoes as well as soothing the itchy bites they leave behind. Don’t use it on children under three years old though.
Here are some other interesting ideas you should explore:
- Catnip oil has some of the same properties, although it’s not as effective.
- Garlic oil has also been reported to have beneficial effects
- Marigold, lavender, basil, lavender, peppermint, along with some other herbs and plants are also “said” to repel mosquitoes.
Now that we've covered the natural methods, let's have a look at something a little more potent.
Using Man-Made (Synthetic) Repellents To Deter Mosquitoes
The EPA website contains a wealth of information about repellents and how they are regulated. Any kind of insecticide contains chemicals and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA. Any repellent that doesn’t have an EPA sticker on it is a “non-chemical” or natural repellent such as the ones discussed above.
DEET has been around and in use by the United States military since 1946. It is a colorless liquid that has very little odor. It doesn’t wash off easily in water so it lasts a long time. Despite how long it has been on the market, scientists really have no idea exactly how DEET works. They know it does, but they don’t know why. Research has shown that mosquitoes can’t detect people who have DEET sprayed on them, but the exact mechanism is still a mystery.
Picaridin is a synthetic derivative of piperine, a natural compound found in plants that produce black pepper. It was first synthesized in the 1980s and now there are dozens of products on the market in the United States with picaridin in them. It seems to block mosquitoes and keep them from being able to sense their prey, but again, the exact mechanism involved is still not unknown.
IR-3535 is what is known as a biopesticide because it is related to substances found in nature. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a couple of hours so you’ll have to constantly respray yourself throughout the day. DEET and picaridin last much longer.
Using Sprays And Traps To Kill Mosquito Populations
Eradication covers anything having to do with pesticides or actively killing mosquitoes with chemicals of one kind or another. They include larvicides, chemicals applied to water to kill the larva, and adulticides, which are chemicals used to fog or spray to kill adult mosquitoes.
There are several Pyrethrins such as Bifenthrin, Deltamethrin, Permethrin, Resmethrin that are effective at killing adult mosquitoes. Those are considered the “active ingredient” in many different pesticides that are known by numerous names and brands.
Some pesticides will be sprayed or fogged up into the trees where mosquitoes like to rest when they’re not feeding. Others will be solid pesticides that are put in the water to kill the larva. Whichever method is used, it will involve the use of chemical pesticides, which in turn necessitate the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect your hands, eyes, ears, etc. from the chemicals.
Using Physical Barriers To Keep Mosquitoes Away From You
Keeping mosquitoes away from you can also involve using physical barriers such as mosquito nets and long sleeve shirts. The best and easiest place to erect a physical barrier is around your patio.
Most patios already have a roof, making it easy to stretch a mosquito net or a screen between the posts and fasten it in place with a staple gun. Make sure you have overlapping folds that are securely fastened on top of each other at the posts and along the roofline.
You’ll also have to put two-by-fours between each post at the floor level so you can fasten the net to it. You can use grout to seal the crack between the patio and the two-by-fours so nothing can get through.
After the mosquito net or screen is in place, you’ll have to put a screen door in place so you can get in and out from the yard. You can do the same thing on a larger scale to cover your garden or swimming pool. The net won’t keep out the sun or breezes, but mosquitoes will be out of luck trying to penetrate it.
When you leave the protected areas around your house, wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. A hat with a wide brim will provide shade for your ears as well as disguising the body heat coming from them.
Modifying Nearby Mosquito Habitats
First and foremost, drain the swamp! Although politicians like to pretend they’re going to Washington D.C. to drain the swamp and save us a bunch of tax money, the only real swamp draining that actually works is when you drain and eliminate the puddles and ponds of stagnant water around your house.
If you’re unable to eliminate standing pools of water, you can take advantage of the mosquito larva’s need to breath to drown them. Larva are like dolphins and whales, they are air breathers. If they can’t get to the air, they’ll suffocate and die. The way to cut off their air supply is to spread a few tablespoons of mineral oil on top of the water so it creates a film all the way across the whole thing. They won’t be able to breach the oily film and they’ll die. This is especially handy for things like horse troughs where you have to leave the water in place but you don’t want mosquitoes breeding in it. The oil won’t hurt the horses but it will drown the larva.
You can also use insectivorous (insect-eating) fish to eliminate larva. Bottom-feeding fish, such as catfish, will eat them up all day long. If you have a large pond that can’t be drained, try stocking it with fish that eat insects.
Final Thoughts On Mosquito Prevention
Mosquitoes are a royal pain. No one likes them, they carry all sorts of terrible diseases, and they harder to get rid of than an unwelcome relative at Christmas. It can be done though.
With some patience and a little elbow grease, any of the methods we outlined here will put you on the road to being mosquito-free.
Other Mosquito Guides
Curious about other mosquito related guides? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.