There’s nothing worse than stepping outside on a beautiful day, only to be swarmed by pesky mosquitoes. Your yard should be a place where you can enjoy warm summer weekends with family and friends, but mosquitoes can force your gatherings indoors. Most of us are familiar with tricks like using repellent or wearing long sleeves to prevent mosquitoes from biting, but wouldn’t it be great if we could keep mosquitoes out of our yards in the first place? Fortunately, there are some natural ways to cut down on the mosquito population in your yard, without using chemical sprays.
The most important thing to know is that mosquitoes breed in standing water. As little as one teaspoon is enough for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and for those eggs to hatch, quickly leading to a full-on invasion. So, as a first step, remove all standing water around your outdoor space. An obvious place to start is with gutters and downspouts. Since these are part of your house, preventing mosquitoes from breeding there reduces the chances of mosquitoes following you inside. Clean debris from gutters and ensure they drain properly. Consider installing a gutter guard to prevent debris from piling up and trapping water. Small puddles can also form in corrugated metal drain pipes and downspouts, so either replace these with smooth metal or cover the opening with a piece of pantyhose and secure it with a rubber band.
It can take as little as four days for mosquito eggs to hatch and grow to adulthood, so replace water in bird baths and pet bowls a few times a week. While you’re at it, check your yard for puddles that may have formed in flower pots, tree stumps, outdoor toys and play equipment, tires and tools, tarps, and garbage can lids. Store as many of these items as possible in a shed or garage when you’re not using them to keep them dry. If you need to keep tarps out to cover grills or other large items, make sure to tie them tightly to prevent water from pooling in the folds. Also consider adding drainage holes to window boxes, planters, and tire swings. These steps will help reduce the number of new mosquitoes showing up in your yard.
If you have a pond or rain barrel in your yard, consider adding goldfish or mosquito fish, which eat mosquito larvae. That’s right, regular goldfish from your pet store will help you keep the mosquito population down! If you’re using your rain barrel to water your garden, just make sure the spigot is high enough on the side of the barrel so enough water always remains to sustain your fish. If you have a pond, keep it free of algae, which mosquito larvae eat. You can also use mosquito dunks or rings to treat standing water. Available at garden centers, these natural larvicides contain a bacteria which will kill mosquito larva but are harmless to humans, pets, and other wildlife.
Lots of other wildlife can help you with natural mosquito control. Think twice about killing any spiders you encounter in your garden – these guys eat mosquitoes, and so do dragonflies. Bats and many types of birds can also help you out. Consider adding bird houses or other habitat to encourage purple martins and swallows to live on your property and help gobble up pests.
Finally, if your next gathering is on your patio or deck within reach of an electrical outlet, plug in a fan to keep the air circulating. Mosquitoes aren’t strong fliers, and the breeze will not only keep you cool, but will make it harder for them to land.
Hopefully these tips help reduce the mosquito population in your backyard! Have other tricks to suggest? Let us know in the comments!
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