Spraying insect repellent on skin outdoor.

A Safer Way To Treat Mosquitoes

Excerpted from: How To Safely Get Rid Of Mosquitoes
Excerpted from: Spring Into Action Against Mosquitoes
Excerpted from: Xerces Mosquito Management

  As we count down the days until mosquitoes arrive, we’re counting down the top reasons not to spray adult mosquitos at home.

With warming temperatures comes the drone of mosquitoes in our parks and yards and the battle begins to reclaim picnics, backyards and outdoor activities. At best, mosquitoes can be a significant nuisance, with nonstop biting and droning keeping us from enjoying the outdoors. In some cases, some mosquito species can vector diseases that impact humans and livestock.

We encourage you to not spray for mosquitoes. There are more effective, safer methods to control these pesky pests!

Mosquito sprays can harm beneficial insects, like this green lacewing larva busy eating an aphid. Contaminated flowers can still be toxic the next day for foraging bees, and butterfly larvae can be exposed even if spray happens early or late in the day.

  Top 5 Reasons Not To Spray Mosquitos

1. Mosquito sprays are toxic to all the cool beneficial insects you are attracting to your yard.

Mosquito control companies tend to use a class of insecticides called pyrethroids, which are broadly toxic to insects. This includes our almost 4,000 species of native bees found in the US as well as butterflies and moths, fireflies, and beneficial insects like lady beetles and dragonflies.

2. Confusing pesticide messaging understates the actual risks of the pesticides.

Pest control companies often use messages that could miscommunicate the actual level of risk. Messages such as the chemicals are natural and derived from flowers, the pesticide dries and is therefore safe or the pesticide is non-toxic.

3. Eliminating standing water is a more effective solution.

Mosquito larvae need water to survive. It’s easier to remove water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding than trying to kill flying adults, and larval mosquitoes don’t transmit disease.

4. Mosquito sprays don’t really get rid of mosquitoes.

Home mosquito sprays are not effective as long term control measures. They only target adult mosquitoes, and given how quickly these insects reproduce, this won’t put a big dent in the overall population. .

5. Eliminating standing water is a more effective solution.

At the neighborhood level, talk to your neighbors about mosquito management and eliminating standing water as a solution. A whole neighborhood of people practicing common-sense mosquito management will have a much larger impact than just one yard.

  Safer Methods To Control Mosquitoes

Mosquito pupae and larvae.
Mosquito pupae and larvae.

Fortunately, there’s a much more effective way to reduce your itchy bites this summer and protect pollinators in your yard. Most important is to focus on eliminating areas where mosquitoes breed.

  Dump Standing Water

The most important way to do this is to eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes need water to reproduce; adults lay their eggs in still water, where they hatch and the larvae feed on microorganisms.

After the mosquitoes pupate, adults take flight and leave the water. This entire process takes only 8 to 10 days. Mosquitos only need 1 inch of water to reproduce, so water that stands around for just over 1 week can lead to a population explosion.

Look around your yard

  Dump water from buckets and trash cans, and look for hidden flower pots that may have filled with rain over the winter and spring.
  Clogged gutters can be a surprise source of standing water for mosquitoes, so ensure they are free of debris.
  Finally, every few days, dump and refill water sources like pet bowls and bird baths to prevent any mosquito larvae from completing their life cycle.

  Give Them A BTI Cocktail

For bodies of standing water that can’t be drained, try using a Bti product. Bti is a bacterium that specifically targets mosquito larvae without affecting other organisms. When the larvae ingest the Bti, it kills them within minutes.

You can find Bti products in garden stores. They come in many forms, including tablets, granules, pellets and liquids. Follow the directions on the product regarding frequency of application.

  Plant Natural Deterrents

Placing whiskey barrel planters with plants that repel mosquitoes in strategic locations was a method that can be used to reduce the number of mosquitoes.

Plant bee balm, marigolds, spotted geraniums, lavender, sweet fern and citronella around the edge of the barrels, with cherry tomatoes and basil in the middle. It’s not enough to plant mosquito-repellent species, but you have to activate them. When people pick the tomatoes or herbs, they brush the other plants, which then give off chemicals that interfere with the mosquitoes’ ability to navigate and find prey. Suitable options may also include rosemary, peppermint, catnip, garlic and sage.

  Attract Natural Predators

Investigate which birds in your region eat mosquitoes and are willing to nest in bird boxes and then learn how to attract them. Both tree swallows and Eastern bluebirds are voracious insect eaters. The best news is once you build the infrastructure, it needs little maintenance.

Bats are also voracious insect eaters and you can install bat houses to increase the number of those mosquito-hungry predators.

Further Information on Garden Pests:

 Groundhog Facts and Control
 How To Get Rid Of Ants
 All About Aphids and Their Control
 Voles — Both the Good and the Bad

Beneficial Species
Fertilize & Mulch
Garden Plans
Garden Pests
Lawn Management
Quick Tips
Soil Management
Specialty Gardens
Bees flying footer graphic