Mosquitoes aren't just pests that limit your enjoyment of the outdoors. They can spread disease. Learn how to get rid of mosquitoes and prevent problems they cause.
Area repellents help deter mosquitoes from a deck, a patio or an entire yard. Outdoor insecticides are available as sprays and foggers for spot treatment and as hose-end bottles for large areas such as lawns. Some are short-term solutions that provide immediate relief from mosquitoes — as well as gnats, wasps and ants — before cookouts and other outdoor activities, while others provide ongoing control of mosquitoes and insects that can damage your landscape — mole crickets and fall webworms, for example — for several weeks.
Outdoor candles and torches that burn fuel combined with repellents can help with mosquito control in smaller areas, and add ambience to your outdoors. There are also tabletop and hanging devices that dispense repellents. Look for different styles that complement your decor. Keep in mind that wind reduces the effectiveness of airborne mosquito-control products.
Some indoor insecticide sprays and foggers kill mosquitoes in addition to other household insects. Like outdoor products, their effective time period varies.
Repellents designed to protect individuals can be particularly useful in outdoor areas that you can't treat, such as hiking trails or outdoor concert venues. Look for repellents that are also effective against gnats, ticks and other insects.
Some products are designed for direct application to exposed skin. DEET is a common active ingredient. The higher percentage of DEET in the product (up to 50%), the longer it repels insects. Other repellents use natural plant oil extracts to provide protection.
Wearable products clip on a belt or bag and use a small fan to circulate an odorless repellent in the immediate area. These devices are battery-operated and refillable. Wrist bands treated with repellents are also available.
Some mosquito repellents — such as those containing permethrin — should not be applied directly to your skin or to clothes while you are wearing them.
Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes when you go outside. Some mosquitoes can strike through tight clothing and some are attracted to darker colors. When practical, stay indoors during high mosquito activity periods — typically sunrise, sunset and early evening — or consider wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks.
Traps use carbon dioxide (CO2) and heat to attract the biting, egg-laying female mosquitoes. They catch and hold them until they die, providing immediate control and disrupting the breeding cycle for a longer-term effect. Some models use fans to draw in the mosquitoes and nets or sticky pads to hold them. The traps often include lures for other types of nuisance insects such as yellow jackets and flies.
Proper placement gives you the best results. Identify an area likely to harbor mosquitoes — a wet or shady part of your yard, for example — and set the trap close to it, upwind if possible. Since the trap attracts mosquitoes, keep it at least 10 feet away from areas where people gather.
When using insect-control products, follow package directions regarding use, safety, storage and disposal.
Some electric bug zappers — devices that attract and electrocute flying insects — can use optional lures designed to attract mosquitoes.
In addition to using repellents and insecticides, reduce your exposure to mosquitoes by making your landscape less desirable to them. Mosquitoes need water to breed, so getting rid of standing water around your home can decrease the number of mosquitoes that hatch in the area.
If you need to maintain areas of standing water — such as an ornamental pond — consider adding anti-larval tablets containing Bacillus thuringiensis. This bacterium kills mosquito larvae but is safe for birds and other animals.
Always use insect-control products carefully to avoid accidentally killing beneficial varieties.
Keep porch and window screens in good repair to help prevent mosquitoes from getting into your home.
For more information on mosquitoes and mosquito-bornes illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.