How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Naturally

5 ways to get rid of mosquitos illo

Treehugger / Caitlin Rogers

Ahhhh. The sounds of summer: the crash of ocean waves, the crackle and bang of Fourth of July fireworks, the chirrup of crickets.

Unfortunately, the sounds of summer also include the whine of pesky mosquitoes. But there's plenty you can do to quell that buzz so you can enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Learning how to get rid of mosquitoes naturally is important beyond ensuring a comfortable backyard cookout. Mosquitoes present a health risk to everyone in the family—and nobody loves the maddening itchy welts that mosquitoes leave behind.

So, it’s worth the effort to control mosquitoes around your house and to reduce your risk of getting bit. Here are some tips for backyard mosquito control:

Don't Give Mosquitoes a Nearby Place to Breed

potted mint plant outside is filled with standing water that attracts mosquitos

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Most mosquitoes can fly no more than one to three miles, and some mosquitoes such as the Asian tiger mosquito have a flight range of around 100 yards. So they're always looking for a place to land or a place to lay eggs, and water is an attractive option.

Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed by emptying the saucers for plants, hauling off old tires, cleaning rain gutters, and frequently changing the water in birdbaths. Don't leave pet bowls filled with water outside when your pets are indoors. Look out for water that gathers in pool covers, buckets, and trash cans. Even discarded Frisbees, toys and lids can collect water after it rains and attract mosquitoes.

Walk around your property with an eye for puddles. Fix the problem, and mosquitoes won't have a place to lay eggs.

Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito fish that eat the larva or treat the water with larvicide mosquito rings sold at home and garden stores.

Like their fellow bloodsuckers, vampires, most adult mosquitoes rest during daylight. Mosquitoes spend daylight hours hiding among vegetation. Reduce mosquito shelter in your yard by trimming weeds and keeping the grass short.

Plant Some Natural Repellents

close view of lavender with purple flowers growing outside in container pot

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

You can grow a garden full of your own pest control by choosing plants that naturally keep insects at bay. There are all sorts of lovely herbs and flowers that look great but also have powerful repellent properties. An added plus: most of these plants also fight back against flies, gnats, no-see-ums and other pesky insects that make being outdoors not so fun in the summer.

Some herbs to consider: basil, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and dill.

If flowers sound more appealing, try marigolds or common lantanas to create a mosquito-free yard.

Prevent Mosquito Larvae From Maturing

standing brown water in old gutters of green-shingled house
Stop mosquitoes from maturing by using Bti products in standing water and muddy, shady areas.

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

You can stop mosquitoes from maturing by using products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a naturally occurring soil bacteria that works as a larvicide. When the larvae of mosquitoes—as well as black flies and fungus gnats—consume Bti, it affects their stomachs making them no longer able to eat. Within several days, they die of starvation.

The bacteria is all-natural and doesn't harm other wildlife or the environment. Apply products that contain Bti to places where there is standing water, as well as muddy, shady areas.

Invite Bats to Your Yard

wooden bat house is attached to slate-green house shingled house

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

You might also make a dent on that backyard mosquito population by attracting bats, one of their most feared predators. Some in-lab studies have shown that a single brown bat can scarf down 1,000 mosquitoes every hour!

To make that dinnertime feat easier, why not install a bat house? Typically made of wood, bat houses can take many forms and can be many sizes. They can be small, backyard boxes or freestanding towers on tall poles to support colonies. Place the house where it will get at least six hours of sunlight per day—facing south, east, or southeast in most climates—and paint the outside a dark color to absorb heat.

Then sit back and wait. The bats will come and the mosquitoes will become a meal.

Create Your Own Breeze

retro-looking fan on outside side table next to cushioned patio furniture

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

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."

In fact, a Michigan State University study discovered just how well an electric fan messes with a mosquito's flying ability. The university entomologists tested electric fans with mosquito traps set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Michigan wetland. They used carbon monoxide in the traps to lure the mosquitoes, but found that the winds from the fans "strongly reduced" the number of insects that were caught.

In addition, fans break the flow of carbon dioxide, throwing mosquitoes off guard when they're trying to figure out exactly where you are. And, as an extra bonus, a fan keeps you cool. When you're not sweating as much and giving off as much body heat, the mosquitoes also have a more difficult time finding you and biting you.

The researchers recommend setting the fans on medium or high to get the best results.

Use Insect Repellent If You Need to

hand sprays all natural insect repellent on kid's legs outside in grass

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Not everyone is a fan of bug spray, but sometimes, you need it when dealing with mosquitoes. Just breathing will draw mosquitoes to you. Mosquitoes are attracted to, among other things, the heat from our bodies and the carbon dioxide in our breath.

Richard Pollack, a Senior Public Health Officer at the Harvard School of Public Health and advisor to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, told ABC News that mosquitoes are able to determine where their target is by following exhale trails.

"If you were to exercise vigorously, you would produce more carbon dioxide for a brief period," Pollack says. "You might [then] perhaps be a little more attractive to mosquitoes."

If you're being bitten, your options are to stop breathing (not really an option) or to go inside. Or, you can just make yourself less attractive to the thirsty bloodsuckers.

There are a number of proven-effective insect repellants that provide hours of protection. There are four repellants that have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, an amino acid that interferes with mosquitoes' sense of smell. 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 your face; spray on your hands first and then apply to your face.
  • Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin and clothes with soap and water.

DEET is considered the most effective insect repellent, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends DEET not be used on infants less than 2 months old. The label on products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus warns against use on children younger than age 3.

Don't waste your money on bug zappers. Mosquito traps that attract mosquitoes using carbon dioxide may kill bugs, but they may not be trapping the mosquitoes that are biting you.

If All Else Fails, Play This Song

It's always a surprise to know what scientists deem worthy of research, but when it results in useful answers, why not? Researchers knew mosquitoes responded to low-frequency vibrations, so they wondered what would happen if they introduced something noisier, specifically "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by dubstep artist Skrillex. And it worked. Their research, published in the journal Acta Tropica, revealed that hungry female mosquitoes had less sex and attacked less often after listening to 10 minutes of the Skrillex song.

Of course, playing that tune nonstop on your patio might drive away friends and family as well.

View Article Sources
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  2. Frequently Asked Questions.” The American Mosquito Control Association.

  3. Uniyal, Ashish et al. “Behavioral Response of Aedes aegypti Mosquito Towards Essential Oils Using Olfactometer.” Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases, vol. 10, no. 3, 2016, pp. 370-80.

  4. Bti for Mosquito Control. Environmental Protection Agency.

  5. Wray, Amy K., et al. "Incidence and Taxonomic Richness of Mosquitoes in the Diets of Little Brown and Big Brown Bats." Journal of Mammalogy, vol. 99, issue 3, 2018, pp. 668-674., doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyy044

  6. Hoffmann, Eric J., et al. Reassessment of the Role and Utility of Wind in Suppression of Mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) Host Finding: Stimulus Dilution Supported Over Flight Limitation. J Med Entomol. vol. 40, 2003, pp. 607-14., doi:10.1603/0022-2585-40.5.607

  7. Raji, Joshua I., et al. Genetic Analysis of Mosquito Detection of Humans. Curr Opin Insect Sci., vol. 20, 2017, pp. 34-38., doi:10.1016/j.cois.2017.03.003

  8. Skin-Applied Repellent Ingredients.” Environmental Protection Agency.

  9. Gouge, Dawn H, et al. “Mosquito and Tick Repellents.” The University of Arizona.

  10. Using Insect Repellents Safely and Effectively.” Environmental Protection Agency.

  11. Prevent Mosquito Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  12. Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child.” American Academy of Pediatrics

  13. Dieng, Hamady, et al. The Electronic Song "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" Reduces Host Attack and Mating Success in the Dengue Vector Aedes aegypti. Acta Trop., vol.194, 2019, pp. 93-99., doi:10.1016/j.actatropica.2019.03.027