Stop the itch before it starts
Scratching at your arms and legs can put a damper on outdoor fun, but rather than swatting and shooing away annoying mosquitoes, you can make your home a less attractive habitat and make your skin less appealing to these pests. Use these 12 tips to prevent mosquito bites by stopping the bugs at the source.
1. Dump Standing Water
Mosquitoes rely on standing water for breeding, so if you have water sitting in the gutters, old plant pots, or other containers around the yard, dump it. For birdbaths and other small water features, make sure you refresh the water once per week to discourage mosquito breeding. Also, inspect filters for your fountains and other large water features to ensure they’re working correctly to clean the water.
2. Light Citronella Candles
Citronella candles are one of the most popular DIY ways to deter mosquitoes. Light citronella-scented candles during your patio dinners or other times you’re present in the yard. Note that citronella candles aren’t a reliable solution, as they tend to only slightly reduce the number of mosquitoes immediately near the candles. Still, they may be an excellent option to use alongside other preventive measures.
3. Cover Your Skin
In the heat of summer, it’s not always ideal for wearing long sleeves and pants. But if you really can’t stand itchy mosquito bites, this is an effective way to minimize bites. Wool, denim, and velvet are thicker fabrics tough for mosquitoes to pierce through. If you want to wear something a bit breezier that offers at least moderate protection, opt for medium-weight cotton, silk-cotton blends, or polyester.
4. Swap Out Bulbs for Yellow Lights
Yellow light bulbs, sometimes called bug lights, are light bulbs that emit a yellow glow. This color is harder for bugs to detect, so they aren’t attracted to the light source. Switch outdoor lights, especially in the backyard or wherever you spend a lot of time, to yellow bulb lights. Be sure to turn off lights when you’re not nearby to keep mosquitoes and other bugs from sticking around.
5. Apply Repellents and Pesticides
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus is the top cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. Although most people who get West Nile virus don’t show symptoms, one person in 150 can become seriously or fatally ill. One of the best forms of protection is repellents, such as DEET or oil from lemon eucalyptus. One study in the Journal of Insect Science found these sprays reduce mosquito attraction by about 60% from a meter away.
Find the right repellent using the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of registered mosquito repellents, and follow the label instructions and precautions for applying it.
6. Make Window and Door Repairs
Worse than dealing with mosquitos on the patio is trying to eradicate mosquitoes that find their way inside your home. Repair or replace window and door screens, and close any gaps between doors or windows and their frames to prevent mosquitoes from coming indoors.
7. Keep It Cool
Mosquitoes are active at a minimum temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and they prefer humidity. Air conditioning helps create a less attractive space for mosquitoes that try to come into the home. Keep in mind, though, that while keeping the air at a frosty 65 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will repel mosquitoes, they may simply go dormant in a safe space until the air is warmer again. Only a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or below can kill them off.
8. Hang Mosquito Netting
If you live in a particularly mosquito-prone area, mosquito netting indoors and out can help prevent mosquito bites. Place mosquito netting above beds and baby carriers to protect your family from pesky bites. Outside, hang netting above your patio table or wherever you spend most of your time. Consider using mosquito nets pre-treated with insecticide to best repel skeeters.
9. Turn on Fans
According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, mosquitoes struggle to fly in windy locations, so you can replicate wind by setting up fans on your deck or patio. This isn’t a permanent solution for preventing mosquito bites, but it’ll work for family gatherings. Just be sure to unplug and bring fans back inside after each use in case of rain.
10. Consider the Landscaping
Fragrant herbs and flowers can add color to your garden and double as pest-repelling plants. Bee balm will attract pollinators—like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds—while shooing away mosquitoes. Strongly scented plants—like lavender, rosemary, sage, and lemon thyme—also deter mosquitoes. Other colorful options—like marigold, mum, and lantana—can round out your mosquito-repelling landscape.
11. Invite Mosquitoes’ Predators
Many animals feed on mosquitoes, including koi fish, red-eared slider turtles, dragonflies, and several types of birds such as migratory songbirds, swallows, geese, and ducks. Add a koi pond or set out bird feeders to attract the natural predators of mosquitoes, and in turn, deal with fewer mosquitoes and bug bites.
12. Call a Professional
You’ve planted marigolds and mint all around your yard and walkways, set up fans, sprayed on DEET, and put up nets, but those persevering mosquitoes are still out for blood. When you need to eliminate a mosquito invasion in your yard, hire a pest control service near you to quickly and effectively eradicate the problem.