Your Guide to Creating a Mosquito-Free Outdoor Living Space

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated June 8, 2022
Family enjoying a meal in the backyard
Photo: mapodile / E+ / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Mosquitoes can easily find shelter, food, and a place to lay eggs in your yard.

  • Females lay up to 100 eggs at a time in standing water.

  • They are attracted to thick turf, lawn debris, water sources, and sweet odors.

  • Alter the ecosystem of your landscape to keep mosquito populations from growing.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

It’s a common summer story: One minute you’re enjoying a hamburger fresh off the grill, the next you’re furiously scratching at your knee, just bitten by the season’s most hated enemy—the mosquito. According to the CDC, there are over 200 types of mosquitoes in the United States, many of which can, in addition to leaving painful welts, spread parasites and viruses such as West Nile and Dengue.

Even if you live in an area prone to mosquitoes, there’s no reason to cancel the annual BBQ. Learn how to control these pesky critters in your yard and keep them from coming back.

What Attracts Mosquitoes?

As tempting as it is to focus on killing mosquitoes, always start by investigating what attracts them to your yard in the first place. Mosquitoes are on the hunt for a place to hide, lay eggs, and of course, eat. In the warmer months, your yard happens to offer all three.

1. Standing Water

Standing water is by far the largest mosquito magnet. And we're talking about everything from a small puddle in your garden after a rain shower to the swimming pool.

The first three stages of a mosquito's life cycle require water to thrive. And since a single female can lay up to 100 eggs at a time—in something the size of a bottle cap, no less—standing water not only attracts mosquitoes to stay but also to multiply quickly.

2. Lawn Debris

From piles of firewood to outdoor playsets, mosquitoes are on the lookout for safe places to nest. Wind is one of the largest deterrents to mosquitoes. Too much wind will keep them from settling long enough to lay eggs. 

And so, the more places mosquitoes have to shelter from a strong breeze, the more likely they are to expand their families. Lawn clutter can also—you guessed it—hold standing water. Keeping lawn clutter to a minimum is key to deterring mosquitoes.

3. Thick Grass and Thatch

Where else can mosquitoes find a wind-free, protected, and moist place to hide? Overgrown, dense, and poorly draining lawns can quickly become the hottest mosquito meetup in town. 

And while mowing your grass on schedule will help, keep an eye on the soil as well. Compacted or highly acidic soil can lead to overgrown thatch—that thick layer of organic material between your grass and soil. Too much thatch keeps water from draining properly and creates an ideal mosquito home.

4. Carbon Dioxide

There's no question that we are one of the largest attractions to mosquitoes. They can detect the body warmth and carbon dioxide from both us and our pets. Lactic acid and other sweet-smelling compounds all send out the call to mosquitoes looking to fortify themselves.

5. Food Remnants

Whether you're hosting a lively barbeque or sitting outside with your morning coffee, mosquitoes will find any sweet-smelling items left out undisturbed for too long. Blood is not the only preferred meal of the mosquito—both males and females enjoy fruit nectar as well, attracting them to the sweet smells of our outdoor snacks.

8 Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitos

Getting rid of mosquitoes in your lawn comes down to creating a balanced ecosystem. While fragrant repellents provide the first line of defense, even the strong citronella candle will not protect you from a nearby nest in a poorly draining yard. Here are eight ways to keep mosquitoes from multiplying in your lawn.

1. Consider Your Repellent Options

Natural and synthetic mosquito repellents come in yard, fabric, and body sprays, as well as candles, electronic repellers, and even bracelets. These products may contain chemical-based products like DEET, permethrin, and picaridin or plant-based oils like lemon eucalyptus and citronella. We recommend sticking to EPA-registered active ingredients and always following the instructions for safe use.

2. Plant Natural Repellents

Imagine a mosquito-free backyard barbecue surrounded by a fortress of plants that these pests hate. Add an herb garden next to your patio filled with catnip, holy basil, citronella, peppermint, lemon thyme, and rosemary. Flowering plants like marigolds and lavender deter mosquitoes and attract beautiful pollinators.

3. Seek Out Standing Water

There's only so far you can repel mosquitoes if they're multiplying on your lawn throughout the summer. Analyze your landscape and patio or porch setup for unseen standing water opportunities. 

These may include:

  • Poorly draining soil

  • Irrigation system issues

  • Water pooling on pavement, pavers, or steps

  • Clogged gutters and gutter drainage

  • Slopes near your foundation

  • Bird feeders and birdbaths

  • Lawn furniture and decor

After a rainfall or watering your lawn, check all the common culprits for standing water, even if it's small pools in the edge of a planter.

4. Improve Drainage

In addition to finding where standing water likes to hide, be sure to keep it flowing with proper drainage in your lawn. Compacted soil, for example, may require dethatching or an aeration service either on your own or with a local landscaper. 

Sloped lawns may benefit from water-hungry plants or those that fight erosion. And lastly, consider altering your watering schedule or irrigation settings—sometimes there's just more water than your landscape can handle.

5. Clean Your Gutters

Decomposing leaves, branches, and moss in your gutters can create a hotspot for mosquito gatherings. Clean your gutters at least once or twice a year, depending on the trees in your yard and whether you have gutter guards installed. Not only will this keep the mosquitoes out, but it will also keep other pests from nesting and possibly hiding in your eaves—or attic—in the winter.

6. Watch Your Water Elements

So, what about pools, ponds, or fountains on your landscape? There's no need to skip on these tranquil water elements if you keep the water clean and moving. Add a fountain or aeration pump to your pond and ensure that your fountain doesn't cause any small pockets of standing water.

As for your pool, stay up to date with your chlorine treatments and run the filter regularly. You can also add what's known as a mosquito dunk if you suspect existing mosquito larvae. The dunks contain a bacterial larvicide against pests like mosquitoes, aquatic gnats, and black flies.

7. Attract Natural Predators

Songbirds perched and eating from a bird feeder
Photo: Ronald Solano / 500px / Getty Images

Birds, bats, and even some turtles and fish love a mosquito snack, so make your yard as hospitable to these predators as possible. In addition to bird feeders—though only those that do not collect water—add areas of shelter and food sources to attract them. Attract birds with native tree species for nesting, their favorite local seed-packed flowers, and by keeping the cats inside. Bats love night-blooming flowers and bat houses for shelter.

8. Encourage Airflow

Since wind is one of the largest deterrents of mosquito nests, remove major barriers that will keep those breezes flowing. Large piles of leaves, branches, or construction debris provide shelter—and often pooled water—for mosquitoes. You can also add an oscillating or ceiling fan to your porch, patio, or pergola for extra wind support.

Do You Have Mosquitos or Another Pest?

It's easy to assume that another itchy red bump is the work of a mosquito. And while the adjustments on our list will deter many unwelcome pests, it's very important to know what bugs are biting you in your yard.

Mosquito bites often appear very soon after the bite. They often produce large, swollen, itchy welts anywhere across your body. Chiggers—a name for a family of mites and berry bugs—leave similar bites that likely only occur below the waist, where the bugs can climb. 

Bites come in clusters and will swell up in the center. Flea bites look very similar but often travel on animals like pets and deer. Bites will appear in patches or rashes and may turn white when pressed. Tick bites, spider bites, and stings, on the other hand, often come with burning, pain, and swelling around an individual bite.

If you're concerned about what's biting you—or how to get ahead of your confirmed mosquito issues—don't hesitate to call in the pest control pros for a thorough investigation.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.