How To Keep Mosquitoes Away On Independence Day
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We've Had so Many People Read This Post and The Write Us for Even More Solutions, that We Thought We'd Share it with Everyone!
If you're entertaining guests and don't want everyone going home telling stories about how they were eaten alive by mosquitoes, here are some tips & tricks to keep those nasty biting insects at bay...
Mow The Lawn
The longer your grass is, the more time it takes for the dew to evaporate. Insects, especially mosquitoes, like to hang out and wait for you in between the long blades of grass. BUT DON'T BUZZ YOUR LAWN. Cutting too short will shock your lawn, and can even kill it. Mow high and frequently, as opposed to buzzing it once every 2 weeks. If you are having a special event, like a graduation party or BBQ, mow it a few days before so that your guests are not tracking blades of grass through your house, across the deck, and all over your patio. As much of a pain as it is, you might even want to bag the clippings just this one time. Most professional lawn care services do not bag grass clippings, so paying a neighbor kid is your best bet.
Simple enough, right? A Fan will keep away Mosquitoes and other flying insects while showering your guests with a nice breeze. Those little buggers (the insects, not your friends) can't fly in the turbulent wind that a fan creates. It would be like you trying to BBQ behind a Boeing 747. Ideally, you would want to 2 or 3 fans to create a barrier around your deck or patio. I just saw window fans (AKA box fans) on sale at Home Depot for $16.99 that will do the trick! Just make sure to set them on High.
Try installing a bat house. You can buy one already built or get plans to build your own online. While some scientists question the ability of bats to have a serious impact on mosquito populations, some species like the little brown bat can eat anywhere from 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Which can be satisfying to watch as you sip some iced tea on the back porch on a summer night. Plus, bats are important pollinators. But it's cool to say "Dude, check out my bats" too.
The most effective way to control mosquitoes is to kill them before they have a chance to grow into bloodsucking adults. The most effective way to do that is to target their breeding grounds. Mosquito Dunks, sold at most home and garden stores, contain a specific type of bacteria that’s harmless to humans but toxic to mosquito larvae, and can be used in birdbaths and decorative ponds. Eliminating sources of standing water will help, as well, since mosquitoes can’t breed without water. Empty kiddie pools when not in use, keep trashcans upside down during rainstorms, and keep rain barrels covered.
In 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents. Catnip, Nepeta cateria, is very easy to grow. This perennial herb is related to mint, and grows readily both as a weed and a commercially cultivated plant in most areas of the US. While catnip will repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant, some people apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil for more robust protection. Bear in mind, however, that cats will respond to you similarly as they would respond to the plant itself. Cat owners may want to choose an alternative plant for repelling mosquitoes.
Citronella is the most common natural ingredient used in formulating mosquito repellents. The distinctive citronella aroma is a strong smell which masks other attractants to mosquitoes, making it harder for them to find you. Although citronella is used in many forms, such as scented candles, torches and citronella ‘scented’ plants, the living plant is more effective because it has a stronger smell. Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In northern climate zones citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be rolled indoors during winter. Gardening centers usually sell citronella as small plants in pots, ready to transplant to a larger pot or into raised garden beds on the ground. Once established, new plants can be propagated in early spring by splitting large clumps into smaller sections and replanting the new ‘starts’ in pots or other areas of the garden. Citronella plants are considered low maintenance, like most grasses, and they do best in full sun and well-drained locations. Periodic applications of nitrogen-rich fertilizers will ensure vigorous growth, but this treatment only needs to be applied once a year, preferably in early spring. When purchasing citronella, look for the true varieties, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Other plants may be sold as ‘citronella scented’, but these do not have the mosquito repelling qualities of true citronella.
Also known as Beebalm, Horsemint is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. It gives off a strong incense-like odor which confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts. Horsemint is a fast growing, shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plant which reaches a height and width of 2 – 3 feet. It does well in dry, sandy soil and can tolerate salty conditions, which is why it is often found in coastal and beach areas. Horsemint seeds can be sown indoors in trays for later transplanting, or sown directly into the ground in late summer in colder climate zones. Midwest and Eastern growing zones are favored for growing horsemint. Mature horsemint plants can be divided in spring and fall by dividing into small sections and transplanting into permanent locations. Horsemint can also be planted in pots for moving indoors in cold climate zones.
It has been scientifically proven that thiophenes, insecticidal compounds found in different species of marigolds, can kill mosquitoes. It’s hard to say if planting a bunch of marigolds around your backyard will expose the nasty critters to levels high enough to actually kill or deter them. Plant marigolds anyway, along with a variety of other native plants, herbs, and flowers; a biodiverse backyard will attract toads, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and other mosquito predators. And be sure to weed your garden and cut your grass frequently, so mosquitoes have less cover to hide in or rest on. Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds repel insects which prey on tomato plants, so you may want to plant a few marigolds in your tomato bed for added protection.
Also known as Flossflowers, Ageratum emits a smell which mosquitos find particularly offensive. Ageratum secretes coumarin, which is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents. Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant which reaches heights of 8 – 18”, and is easily recognized by its blue flowers, although there are varieties with pink, white and violet blooms. This plant will thrive in full or partial sun and does not require rich soil. It is often displayed in rock gardens where low-lying plants are favored. Although the leaves of Ageratum can be crushed to increase the emitted odor, it is not advisable to rub the crushed leaves directly on the skin.
If all else fails, or you just don't have the time to try. Stuff some fabric softener dryer sheets in your back pockets and discretely around your outdoor area. Maybe tape some to the backs of chairs or under tables, put some under plates, etc. Keep it classy, let's not replace the buzz of mosquitoes with the buzz of your friends talking about how weird you are for having wallpapered your patio with dryer sheets.