How do I Mosquito-Proof my Yard?
Here in the Southeast US, it has been a wet spring and it looks like it will be a wet summer, too. If you’re like me, you’re excited to get back out into the beautiful outdoors and enjoy the warm weather, but you aren’t excited about…mosquitos. My name is Kira, and I’m a content creator in Birmingham, Alabama. I love being outside with my dog and enjoying my shady back porch, but I’m one of those people that are unfairly targeted by those little blood-suckers. So I wanted to know, is there a way to mosquito-proof my yard? The answer turned out to be complicated, but in the process I got a lot of good tips that got me a lot closer to a mosquito-free summer.
In the beginning…
I live in an apartment with a small fenced in backyard. It’s only about 345 sq. ft. total, so I thought, this shouldn’t be too difficult! I began by talking to the professionals at BeeGreen Pest Control, to get their best do-it-yourself tips. They had a lot to tell me, and I’ve got all those tips for you now…plus some bits about my own experience trying to fight these tiny, leggy insects.
We’re all thinking it…Citronella?
My first thought, like most southerners, was the good ‘ole citronella candle or citronella tiki torches. The upside to these is that they are available just about everywhere you can shop (I picked up a few at my local grocery store). The downside is their range, which is only about 6-7 feet. That means, even for my tiny yard, I needed at least 5 or 6 to get good coverage. For anyone with a larger yard, these products aren’t a realistic solution for anything beyond just the patio. So as far as a mosquito-proof yard goes, these fall short.
As for their effectiveness, I had mixed results. After a few of them have been lit in the area for at least 10-15 minutes, it does begin to cut down the number of mosquitoes harassing me, but there are always a few that seem not to notice the noxious smell and insist on sticking around. The bigger issue with these is that they rely on open flame outdoors, so any strong breeze could have you relighting them all night. Also, anyone who has used the candles in the silver buckets has realized that one single wick is not enough to melt the entire perimeter of the candle, so you end up wasting basically half of the candle even if you burn it completely down.
With all that being said…I’m going to give citronella products a 6/10. They work okay, but they have way too many flaws to be the best solution.
The first step
The most important thing you can do, I’ve learned, to protect your yard from mosquitoes is get rid of any standing water. You’ve probably heard a particularly junk-filled yard called a mosquito farm. That’s because every item in your yard can act as a water-catcher, and mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs in. What you probably don’t know is that, while a bucketful of water is a haven to a mosquito, they don’t necessarily need that to reproduce. In fact, mosquitoes eggs can thrive in as little as a bottle cap of water. Even a single curled-up leaf on the ground can hold enough water for a mosquito to lay eggs. That makes it much more of a task to get rid of all the water in your yard.
So, the first step you should take to a mosquito-proof yard? Keep it well-raked, and the grass cut. Remove anything that could possibly hold water. Upturning buckets may not be enough; even the tiny amount of water that can collect in the lip of the bottom of the bucket is plenty for a mosquito. You want to move things like kids toys, buckets, lawn equipment, or anything else under a cover somewhere they won’t have the opportunity to collect any rainwater. Bird fountains should be dumped frequently and fresh water put in.
This isn’t something to repel mosquitoes, but rather to prevent them. Getting in the habit of doing these things will not completely solve your mosquito problem, but it will make it much easier to deal with the remaining few mosquitoes rather than having an entire farm of mosquitoes to try to get rid of. I’ll give this an 8/10.
What about unavoidable water puddles?
Dumping over toys and keeping your yard clean is a great first step, but many people have dips and bumps, or even ditches, in the terrain of their yard that will inevitably create puddles when it rains. These can be basically impossible to empty of water until they drain naturally. How do you prevent these from harboring mosquitoes?
To treat these areas, there are larvicides that can be sprayed over the water. The name can be misleading, because these products contain no actual pesticides. Instead, they are oil-based, and when you spray them on top of a standing puddle, the oil coats the top of the water and suffocates the eggs.
One more risk of puddles can, counterintuitively, come when they dry up. If there is a spot in your yard that regularly becomes a puddle, mosquitoes will often lay eggs in that puddle. If the eggs don’t hatch before the puddle dries up, the eggs can actually lay dormant in the dry ground until the puddle forms again. The good news is, if you can pay attention to the places where water commonly collects, that area can be sprayed while it’s still dry to kill the eggs laying dormant underneath.
One new product I hadn’t tried before, or even heard of, was a Thermacell. This is basically just a device that repels mosquitos. You can buy these that clip onto your person, or ones that are larger and may sit on a table or the ground somewhere in the area. They are supposed to work pretty well, but the kicker is the price – around $30-$40 for just one. The reviews on these are mixed, with some saying it works great but others saying it broke shortly after they turned it on. Even if it doesn’t break, the 15×15 area it covers might not be quite enough to cover your entire patio, and it will only work for up to 4 hours before you need to change out the mat inside the device, and then you also need to change the fuel cartridge every 12 hours. And you guessed it – refills sold separately.
This solution is probably worth a try if you have a small enough space and won’t be spending hours upon hours outside – but it wasn’t worth it for my budget.
What about repellants that you spray on?
I wanted to avoid spray-on repellants, like DEET. I have always hated the greasy feeling of these repellants, and only wear them when absolutely necessary. I didn’t want to have to rely on them to enjoy my own backyard, so I didn’t consider them as a potential solution to my mosquito problem. That being said, if you don’t mind having them on, they are almost definitely the most reliable way to keep mosquitoes off you. There are also a wide variety of spray-on solutions that have varying effectiveness, if you want to try something without DEET (although it has been studied extensively and has been shown to be safe). These include other pesticides, as well as natural oils.
Other tips in the quest to mosquito-proof your yard
A few other random tips I found were things like mosquito-netting, protective clothing, oscillating fans, and spreading coffee or tea waste around your yard (we talked about this in a previous blog, How Does Eco-Friendly Pest Control Work?). Of these, my favorite was oscillating fans, because it also added a little relief to the Alabama summer heat. I also think mosquito netting would be a great solution to try if it would work for my space, but unfortunately my apartment may look down on me installing an entire mosquito tent over my backyard. Maybe one day when I’m a homeowner.
Overall, although I wasn’t able to find a way to completely mosquito-proof my yard, I did find a setup that works for me and my space. I’ve found that being very mindful of my yard’s drainage and water buildup, keeping it clean, has made all the difference in how buggy it is. Once you’ve got that taken care of, citronella is just strong enough to basically get rid of all the rest of the mosquitoes. Having a fan outside helps as well, and if you have the budget, I think the Thermacell products would be worth the try. The real lesson here is that there is not just one solution, and any solution has to take advantage of a few different approaches and has to be tailored to your space.
Think you want the professionals on the case?
If you have tried everything there is to try to get a mosquito-proof yard and you’re still unable to enjoy the summer months, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. BeeGreen Pest Solutions is the best place to go to get advice, treatment, and results. Call to find out what your yard needs today.