Tips for killing and repelling mosquitoes

1. Eliminate stagnant water

If you purge your yard of all objects that can accumulate water, female mosquitoes will go elsewhere to lay their eggs and their progeny will be somebody else’s problem. Flexible downspout extenders are the worst because most homeowners have no idea they are full of water. Mosquito larvae can develop in as little as 1 teaspoon of water. Here’s a longer list of objects that hold water.

2. Thin out ground cover

Mosquitoes like to hang out in moist shaded areas during hot days so you can encourage them to leave your yard by thinning out the vegetation on your property. In particular, get rid of (non-native) English ivy, hosta, pachysandra, etc. Thinning vegetation won’t eliminate your mosquitoes but it can cut down on their numbers substantially.

3. Deploy traps that kill pregnant females

Buy several autocidal gravid ovitraps and set them up in shady spots in your yard. Some brands: If all of the above sounds like way too much work you can buy them: Biogents GAT Trap (my favorite, shown below), Catchmaster Ovi-Catch AGO, Dalen Skeet-O-Trap, Springstar AGO, and Ultimate Mosquito Traps. You can also make your own. Convince your neighbors to deploy them, too. Ideally, buy some for your neighbors (it benefits you). More details.

Biogents gravid Aedes trap

4. Add mosquito-killing bacteria to standing water

Thanks to evolution, there’s a strain of bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis) that specializes on mosquito larvae. You can buy it under the brand names of Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits. Just add to rain barrels, bird baths, ponds, etc., every few weeks. Pro-tip: use a slingshot to launch a Mosquito Dunk into neighbor’s abandoned swimming pool. Bonus pro-tip: keep some crushed Bti in a bag in your wallet or pocketbook, ready for use when you find mosquito larvae during a walk in your neighborhood.

5. Make larvicidal traps

Dark containers filled with water and Bti or insecticide can kill larvae mosquitoes 24/7. Instructables and makemosquitotraps.org have instructions.

Image from JFULOP10

6. Make a fan trap to kill foraging females

Buy two box fans, cover one side of each fan with screening, coat screening with permethrin, then situate fans on either side of your favorite chair outside. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and will be blown onto screens, then die from contact with the insecticide. Use white screening if you’d like to see the evidence of the death, black screening if it’s TMI. Works for outside dog beds, too. Here’s a diagram showing the concept, except with chickens:

Box fan mosquito trap for chicken coop

7. Wear clothes treated with permethrin

Some outdoor stores carry clothes that are treated with permethrin. You can also buy permethrin spray and treat your own clothes. E.g., Sawyer sells it. Kills mosquitoes when they land, plus works as a repellent, too. The chemical lasts for 6 washings. NB: never spray permethrin on your skin. Also, use along with actual repellent such as DEET.

Permethrin spray

8. Use only registered repellents

Buy repellents that contain EPA-registered chemicals such as DEET, picaridin, IR2525, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-methane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Avoid everything else even if packaging or ignorant friend makes extraordinary claims.

Copyright Tony Webster.

9. Make a sugar trap to rid room of mosquitoes

If you are plagued by mosquitoes inside your house, make a sugar trap. Just cut off the top of a plastic soda bottle and invert it to make a funnel, then bait with old fruit, fruit juice, or a flower that has nectar. Place in corner of room (location is important). Mosquitoes have a highly evolved ability to track the volatiles of rotting fruit and nectar (they require sugar regularly) and will fly into these devices and die when they can’t get out. Do not add yeast (not necessary, plus would cause smell).

10. Avoid ineffective remedies and scams

Don’t waste time or money on vitamin patches, Spartan Mosquito Eradicators, bug zappers, mosquito-repelling plants, or bat houses. Here’s a more complete list of myths and scams.