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How to Reduce Mosquitoes in the Garden and Yard

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Mosquitoes are a pain in the neck, but you don't have to let them ruin your summer. Here are ways to prevent, avoid, repel and control mosquitoes in your yard and garden.

Prevent/Discourage Mosquitos

If your garden includes a pond or other water feature, consider adding Mosquito Dunks to kill larvae or a sprayer or fountain to add movement to the water. Mosquitoes prefer still, standing water.

If your garden includes a pond or other water feature, consider adding Mosquito Dunks to kill larvae or a sprayer or fountain to add movement to the water. Mosquitoes prefer still, standing water.

To prevent mosquitos from breeding in your yard and garden—and thereby reduce the number of mosquitos pestering you—be vigilant about standing water, which is their ideal breeding location. If you leave anything outdoors over the summer that could collect water—a wheel barrow, kiddie pool, watering can, etc.—either bring it under cover or tip it upside down when rain is predicted. When water collects in saucers under outdoor pots, promptly dump it out. Don't neglect cleaning your home's roof gutters; water can be trapped there by leaves and debris.

Check less obvious locations for standing water. For example, the folds and puckers of a canvas grill cover or a tarp covering a car or boat can create pockets in which water collects. Trees uprooted in severe weather can leave depressions where water pools. Fill in these divots and other ditches or depressions.

Encourage beneficial wildlife that prey on mosquitos. These include bats and birds as well as frogs and dragonflies. To help bats, set up bat nesting boxes. (Read more ways to support bats here.) Bird baths are excellent garden additions for attracting birds, but think about adding a sprayer or fountain to keep the water moving. Such a fountain or a bubbler is also a good idea in a water garden or ornamental pond, which are good features for welcoming frogs and dragonflies. (Read more about dragonflies in the garden here.)

Avoid and Repel Mosquitos
To avoid mosquitos, stay indoors during their most active times of day—the hours around sunrise and sunset. Wear long pants, long sleeves, knee socks under your shoes and a hat. Hats or hoods with mosquito netting are very helpful. 

The most effective mosquito-repelling skin sprays include DEET. Cedar-based sprays or sprays made with lemon eucalyptus are also effective but need to be reapplied more frequently. When spraying, follow package directions and spray clothing as well as skin.

Be careful using mosquito sprays on children; look for products formulated for kids, and be sure to ask your pediatrician for advice. Here's guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child.

Control Mosquitos
Remove tall weeds and excessive brush to eliminate the places where adult mosquitos rest during the day.

Mosquito Dunks can be placed in standing water to kill mosquito larvae. The active ingredient, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, is a bacterium that won't harm other creatures, including birds, fish, amphibians, pets and people. They are safe to place in ponds, bird baths, gutters, rain barrels and similar locations. One Mosquito Dunk will remain effective for 30 days.

Entomologist Douglas Tallamy, the author of Nature's Best Hope and other best-selling guides to at-home conservation, recommends creating a mosquito trap by filling a five-gallon bucket with water and adding hay or straw. The material will ferment and attract mosquitoes to lay eggs in it. Add Mosquito Dunks and the larvae will be killed. Watch Dr. Tallamy's video about this method on You Tube. 

For more info:

What to plant to repel mosquitos, and more tips.

Will a rain barrel encourage mosquitos?