Ahhhh. The sounds of summer: the crash of ocean waves, the crackle and bang of Fourth of July fireworks, the sizzle of burgers on the grill.
Unfortunately, the sounds of summer also include the whine of pesky mosquitoes. But there is plenty you can do to turn down the volume so that you can enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer.
Learning how to kill mosquitoes naturally is important beyond ensuring a comfortable backyard cookout. Mosquitoes present a health risk to everyone in the family – even Fido. Mosquito-borne diseases – which kill 1 million people worldwide every year – include malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and, more commonly in the United States, West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes also carry heartworm, a life-threatening disease for dogs.
So, it’s worth the effort to control and kill mosquitoes around your house and to reduce your risk of getting bit. Here are some tips for mosquito control:
Don't give mosquitoes a nearby place to breed
Most mosquitoes can fly no more than one to three miles, and some mosquitoes such as Asian tiger mosquito have a flight range of just 100 yards or so.
Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed by emptying in the saucers of flower pots, hauling off old tires, cleaning rain gutters and frequently changing the water in birdbaths. Walk your property with an eye for puddles. Fix the problem.
Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito fish that eat the larva or treat them with larvicide mosquito rings sold at home and garden stores.
Don’t give mosquitoes a nearby place to hang out during the day
Like their fellow bloodsuckers, vampires, adult mosquitoes rest during daylight. Mosquitoes spend daylight hours hiding among vegetation. Reduce mosquito shelter in your yard by trimming weeds and keep the grass short.
Spraying the lower limbs of shade trees, shrubs and other plants with home-use products containing deltamethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin can reduce the adult mosquito population, according to the American Mosquito Control Association.
Properly apply insect repellant
There are a number of proven-effective insect repellants that provide hours of protection available. There are four repellants that have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535. The EPA considers DEET and Picaridin “conventional repellents” and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535 as “biopesticide repellents,” which are made from natural materials.
The EPA offers these guidelines for the safe use of insect repellents:
- Repellents should be applied only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
- Do not apply near eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears.
- When using sprays, do not spray directly into face; spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin and clothes with soap and water.
Don’t waste money on bug zappers. Mosquito traps that attract mosquitoes using carbon dioxide kill bugs, but they may not be trapping the mosquitoes that are biting you.
Create your own breeze
Strategically placed fans will keep a deck or porch free of mosquitoes, says Joseph Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association. “Mosquitoes are weak flyers and will not be able to navigate properly against or within the air stream,” Conlon says. “There is no set formula for how large a fan or how many you'll need. It's simply a matter of experimenting until you obtain the desired effect. It's simple, yet very effective.”