Make your yard mosquito-free for outdoor fun all summer long
Controlling and repelling mosquitoes is essential to enjoying time spent outdoors in warm months, and is also necessary to help minimize the risk of contracting diseases carried by mosquitoes. This guide will help you make your yard less hospitable for mosquitoes, as well as differentiate between the vast array of products on the market that kill larvae and adult mosquitoes or prevent them from biting.
CDC RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP REVENT THE SPREAD OF THE ZIKA VIRUS
Repelling mosquitoes is top of mind with the prevalence of the mosquito-borne illness Zika. In addition to the steps we've detailed throughout this guide, make sure you've followed these six initial steps recommended by the Center for Disease Control:
- Use EPA-registered personal insect repellents with one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.
Use an indoor insect fogger or spray to target where mosquitoes rest inside the home.
- Install and repair window and door screens to keep pests from slipping in through cracks or tears.
Use air conditioning instead of opening unscreened windows or doors.
Use an outdoor fogger or spray in dark, humid areas (garages, carports, under plants, shrubs) where mosquitoes rest.
- Use larvicides to treat non-drinking stagnant water that collects in ponds, empty sandboxes, wheelbarrows, empty flower pots and more.
Use weather stripping to seal gaps around your doors and windows, and install door sweeps or seals for garage and sliding glass doors.
- Use caulk to fill gaps around exterior sockets and plumbing.
For more information on Zika, please visit the CDC's website: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends using an EPA-registered personal insect repellent for protection against mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus, Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Zika viruses.
Safety: When you're done spending time outside, be sure to wash repellents off as soon as possible. Don't apply repellents on the hands of small children or anything else they might put in their mouths. Always apply repellent in well-ventilated areas.
For protection against both mosquitoes and ticks, the CDC recommends using a personal repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET. Learn more about DEET here.
DEET, a substance that has been around for more than 50 years, remains among the most effective repellents. Different brands of repellent feature different concentration levels of DEET, so be wary of how strong each one is.
Always follow the directions on the label. Both Cutter and OFF! offer a variety of personal protection options.
Be aware that, just like sunscreen, insect repellent must be reapplied every few hours or it loses effectiveness. Reapplication times vary depending on a number of factors, but a general rule of thumb is that products with 7% DEET last up to two hours and those with 25% DEET can last up to 10 hours if not sweated or washed off.
In addition to DEET, repellents that use lemon-oil, also called citronella, eucalyptus and picaridin are available with various effectiveness levels.
The CDC also recommends treating clothing and gear with permethrin. Permethrin is only for clothing or fabrics and should not be applied to the skin. Some clothes now feature built-in insect and mosquito repellent that remains effective through several washes.
- Spray repellants on clothing and exposed skin to ensure maximum coverage.
- Repellents retain efficacy for anywhere from one to 10 or more hours.
- Avoid spraying repellents into eyes, cuts or scrapes.
- Avoid using DEET concentrations stronger than 10 percent on children.
- Rain and perspiration may shorten the length of time repellents are effective.
Repellent is also available in cream, stick and clip-on form to ensure full coverage over your entire body.
Note for Puerto Rico residents: Mosquitoes in Puerto Rico are highly resistant to any pyrethroid-based products. The CDC recommends only using products that contain deltamethrin in Puerto Rico, such as this spray.
Knowing how and where mosquitoes like to breed is the key to controlling the population. Reducing the number of places where larvae can grow and killing them as they do will greatly diminish the number of adult mosquitoes around you.
Eliminate areas of standing water: The best way reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard is to eliminate areas where they can lay eggs. Even the smallest amount of standing water can serve as a breeding ground.
Change and clean the water in birdbaths regularly.
- Use larvicides to treat containers of non-drinking water.
Get rid of cans, bottles and any other containers that are outside.
Remove tree stumps where rainwater can collect.
Use gutter cleaning tools for your roof to free clogs and prevent water buildup.
Drain toddler-sized wading pools when you're not using them.
Avoid overwatering your lawn.
Monitor ponds and lakes: For areas where it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all water, such as ponds or lakes, there are steps you can take to hinder mosquito breeding.
Introduce fish, such as goldfish, bluegills and minnows that eat mosquito larvae.
Pond pumps can be used to keep water moving.
Add larvicides such as BTI (a bacterium that produces a toxin lethal to mosquito larvae) and IGR (insect growth regulators) to bodies of water you don't want to eliminate. Check packaging to ensure fish can survive in the same water before adding chemicals.
Some products prevent larvae from undergoing metamorphoses, leaving them stuck in the larval phase.
Others use an alcohol derivative to create a film over the surface of the water, causing larvae to drown while ensuring the water remains safe.
Protect your home: Keep mosquitoes from entering your home by repairing or replacing any window screens which are damaged or broken. Add a screen door to outside doors and screen in outdoor porches and patio furniture.
Prevention will reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area, but it will not get rid of them entirely. Fortunately, there are a number of chemical treatments that can be used for both larvae and adult mosquito repellent.
Treatment options for your yard: Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas in outdoor areas around your home. Treat areas under and around patio furniture, carports or in the garage. When using chemical treatments, adhere to all manufacturer safety guidelines and recommendations.
Larvacides eliminate mosquitoes before they become adults.
EPA-registered sprays and foggers formulated for outdoors spread toxins that will eliminate mosquitoes.
Use citronella candles or torches to keep bugs away from small areas outside, such as a porch or deck.
Fans can blow wind too strong for mosquitoes to fly through.
Electrocuters, or bug zappers, use heat and carbon dioxide to attract mosquitoes and eliminate them.
For a more advanced solution around your home and yard, consider a high-tech elimination unit that uses a combination of heat and scent to imitate a human target and attract mosquitoes. When a mosquito flies in for a closer look, a high-powered, built-in vacuum sweeps them into a chamber where they are trapped and eliminated.
Inside treatment: Mosquitoes like to rest in dark, humid places within the home, so check under sinks, in closets, under furniture or in the laundry room. Don't forget to check outdoor storage sheds! If mosquitoes have already made their way into your home, get rid of them with indoor-tested products.
EPA-registered indoor flying insect and mosquito repellents and foggers are available in aerosol or pump sprays.
- Fans and fly swatters are low-tech solutions that can deter and eliminate mosquitoes.