You’re likely to have some unwanted visitors at your barbecues, pool parties and other backyard gatherings this summer – the kind that like to take bites out of you and your guests! But itchy welts aren’t the only reason you should take steps to keep mosquitoes away. Not only are mosquitoes a major hassle, they’re also among the world’s most dangerous insects due to their ability to transmit potentially life-threatening viruses to humans. About 180 of the more than 3,000 mosquito species will be buzzing around the United States this summer, with plans to stick around through the fall.
So how can you protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites? Don’t give mosquitoes a chance to make themselves at home near your home! The first step toward making your home less inviting for mosquitoes is to eliminate all sources of stagnant water, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. A female mosquito can lay over 100 eggs at a time, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, mosquitoes grow from eggs to full-size, ready-to-bite adults in as little as 8 to 10 days! The best way to prevent a mosquito breeding bonanza is to eliminate any standing water around your property.
Keep mosquitoes away from your yard
There are dozens of places where standing water can collect at an average home, and mosquitoes need only an inch or more to lay their eggs. Follow this checklist to help mosquito-proof your home and yard.
- Make sure door and window screens are in good repair and fit tightly.
- Keep gutters clear of debris.
- Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
- Drill holes in the bottom of trash cans and recycling containers so water can drain and never leave the lids upturned on the ground.
- Check and empty children’s toys, baby pools, sandboxes, etc.
- Change the water in pet dishes regularly.
- Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
- Don’t let water collect on pool covers.
- Cover or dispose of any jars, bottles, barrels, buckets, etc.
- Empty water collected in tarps around the yard or on woodpiles.
- Fill any tree holes that hold water with spray insulation or expanding foam.
- Turn over canoes and other boats.
- Dispose of any tires.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites
Whether you’re hosting an outdoor bash or enjoying a spur-of-the-moment picnic, have EPA-approved insect repellent on hand and apply it to exposed skin. Long sleeves, pants and socks offer extra protection, and you can also wear clothing treated with materials that keep mosquitoes away, such as permethrin.
According to the CDC, it’s important to use only EPA-registered products. Specifically, there are four repellents that they recommend:
- DEET: A short abbreviation for a very long chemical name, it’s the go-to mosquito repellent for many when working outside or backpacking because it stays active for a long time.
- Picaridin: Another repellent that’s been proven to work. You’ll find this in products like Cutter Advanced and Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus.
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE): For this one you need to make sure you are using the synthesized version of OLE. “Pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus is not formulated as a repellent and is not recommended.
- IR3535: Can be found in Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
The other important thing to know is how to properly apply repellents to keep mosquitoes away:
- Apply only to exposed skin or clothing, but never under clothing.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- When using sprays, do not spray directly on face — spray on hands first and then apply to face.
Use a mosquito trap to thin out the population
In addition to mosquito control strategies such as eliminating standing water around your property and protecting yourself with mosquito repellent, you can also disrupt the mosquito life-cycle using a mosquito trap, such as DynaTrap.
DynaTrap gives off the warmth and glow of UV light and releases CO2, the gas you emit when you exhale, to irresistibly lure mosquitoes. It then uses a fan to vacuum them into a screened-in basket, so you can actually see it working every day. It’s completely non-toxic and can be used both indoors and outdoors.