Keep biting insects out of your outdoor living space
Mosquitoes are a nuisance that make you itch just thinking about them! Once they invade your pool and patio area, they can make a good time in your backyard less comfortable for you, family, and guests.When outside temperatures increase, so does mosquito activity. Warm weather allows these insects to lay more eggs, and the eggs hatch quicker.
A female can produce up to 300 at a time and up to 3,000 in her lifetime. Mosquitoes go through all four lifecycle stages—egg, larvae, pupa, flying adult—in approximately one week.
Why mosquitoes bite
Female mosquitoes are the ones that pierce your skin and cause those aggravating red bumps. What attracts them is the heat and sweat from our bodies, as well as the carbon dioxide from our breath.
To nurture and lay their eggs, mosquitoes need fresh blood from another creature. Toward this goal, the females hunt for nearby people and animals on which to feed. (The males don’t bite; they rely on flower nectar.)
Mosquitoes’ attraction to bodies of water
After they mate, the only place that mosquitoes can deposit their future offspring is in stagnant or slow-moving water. The body of water must be still enough for the insects to land and layer their floating egg clumps across the surface.
This kind of mosquito-friendly water can be found in some ponds and puddles, as well as in various discarded or hidden receptacles like empty cans, storm drains, gutters, and buckets.
However, mosquitoes won’t find a suitable environment in your regularly maintained swimming pool. Running a pool pump even a few hours a day creates ample water circulation, thereby preventing a mosquito landing strip from forming on the pool surface.
In the rare case that a mosquito manages to drop a batch of eggs in your pool or spa, no worries: They won’t hatch. The combination of chlorine and/or any other pool sanitizing methods will kill them long before they mature into larvae.
Some species of mosquitoes bite. What’s worse is that some spread diseases and parasites that they pick up from an infected animal or human.
Yellow Fever, West Nile, Zika, malaria, and Encephalitis are among the viruses and diseases that mosquitoes can transfer from person to person or animal to animal.
Avoid dangerous microorganisms and potential illness by taking precautions around your pool and backyard to ward off the number of mosquitos.
How to fight mosquitoes in your backyard
Due to climate and other factors, some regions of the country are more susceptible to mosquitoes than others. The 20 metropolitan areas with the highest populations of these pests are listed here.
Fortunately, there are methods that can help thwart them. Of course, one is the standby of bug repellent. Applied to exposed skin, this product makes people unappetizing to hungry mosquitoes.
These products can help safeguard family members from direct mosquito attacks, but they can be a hassle to apply. Some brands contain chemicals that you may prefer avoiding, but organic products are also available.
You can also show mosquitoes who’s boss with specific tactics to cut their numbers and discourage them from ever visiting your backyard in the first place. Let’s look at some products and techniques to use in the war against these pests.
1. Set out mosquito traps.
Portable mosquito traps are designed to rid yards of nasty insects by capturing them. Best of all, they achieve results without dispersing chemicals or pesticides throughout your backyard.
This technology draws in mosquitos by simulating the elements that attract them to a person or animal. Some devices use a supply of propane gas, which they convert into carbon dioxide (CO2) to simulate our breath. (The tiny amount of CO2 emitted in an outdoor area is not recognized as harmful to pets or people.)
Others models use two kinds of bait, combining CO2 with ultraviolet (UV) or LED lights that attract the insects by imitating human movement. Some UV devices, such as this one called Dynatrap, use titanium dioxide on some components inside the trap to produce CO2.
Once an insect is lured to the device, a fan or vacuum sucks it up, and places it into a net or cage. There, it dies in about 24 hours.
Strategically position a device trap around your outdoor living space; the best spots are near any water sources, but as far as possible away from where people gather. In most cases, a single unit will be enough for a typical yard.
Propane-powered devices like SkeeterVac and Mosquito Magnet can run around $300 to $700 for a standard version; optional upgrades and accessories will run extra. UV or LED light devices can usually be yours for $50 to $150.
Take note: In terms of effectiveness, the propane models will capture and kill more mosquitoes. If you have a larger backyard or high-volume of insects around, a propane type may be your best choice.
2. Install a bug misting system.
Special mist can create a line of defense across your backyard. This method involves a series of stationary insecticide sprayers placed every 10 to 15 feet around your yard. You can hang the nozzles from trees, fences, or mount them on stakes that get driven into the ground.
Each nozzle connects to a tube that holds the insecticide. A timer or remote device activates the system to disperse the mosquito-killing vapors.
Since installation does not require an expert, you can save money by putting in the sprayers yourself. Many manufactures provide step-by-step instructions on how to set everything up, as well as guidance on the number of nozzles your yard will need. The larger an outdoor area, the more nozzles a system requires to do a good job.
While effective, this method does have health and environmental drawbacks. The system relies on spraying a toxic substance which can affect pets and humans if they become exposed to it.
In addition, some municipalities may have regulations that prohibit or regulate these systems. Do your research to make sure they are allowed in your area.
3. Maintain your landscape.
Tall, overgrown grass and hedges—as well as weeds—provide an open invitation to mosquitoes. They seek refuge in the overgrowth and take shelter in the cool vegetation and on hot summer days.
Don’t lay out a doormat for an invasion. Take proper care of your landscape. Routinely cut the grass, trim hedges, and kill weeds and wild grass. This way, your yard is less likely to offer a comfortable hiding place for mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes will also target puddles in lawns for a spot to lay eggs. If your patio has any natural or artificial grass, check that it is draining correctly and that no miniature pools are forming.
To help control mosquito populations, consider reaching out to your next-door neighbors as well. If their yards are close, the level of their landscape and backyard maintenance can either support or diminish some of your good mosquito-combat efforts.
4. Build a screen room enclosure.
Screen rooms are towering, semi-permanent structures made of steel and fine netting. Their transparent mesh walls and steel supports typically stand 8-ft. to 14-ft. tall, and they are built around an entire swimming pool, spa, deck, and landscaping. In some cases, they incorporate the side of a house as the fourth wall.
Popular in tropical, mosquito-friendly climates in Florida and other Gulf Coast states, these screen rooms—also known as Lanais—create fully secure patio living areas that blocks entry by nearly all bugs and insects.
While virtually 100% effective against mosquitos and other would-be invaders, these outdoor structures do come at a cost. For a typical 30-foot pool, basic structures average $5,000 to $12,000. Prices depend on factors like the manufacturer, local installation rates, and any state or municipal building codes, all of which can vary around the country.
If you already have a screen room, make sure it’s secure. Periodically check for any holes or tears in the material, and make sure the doors completely seal when closed. Even the slightest tear or opening can allow in unwanted guests.
5. Hang mesh patio curtains.
Mesh curtains provide a miniature-scale alternative to a screen room. You can use them to block insect intrusion into small sections of patio where people frequently gather.
Mesh curtains won’t safeguard the entire pool & patio area like a screen room, but they work well for spots like an enclave beneath an awning or pergola-type roof structure with openings on the sides. A perfect candidate is a free-standing gazebo—which often contains a dining table and chairs—that’s open on all sides.
These mesh or vinyl drapes can be hung from a roof, awning, gazebo structure, or columns in a large cabana to create soft, retractable virtual walls. They come in various styles and configurations of material and support frames.
When the weather cools, and the mosquito populations dwindle, you can easily take the curtains down and store them for later use.
Bonus tip: If you have a wide-open backyard and neighbors nearby, pick a heavier, semi-opaque material that creates some privacy from prying eyes.
6. Monitor your pool cover.
To lay eggs, mosquitoes need only a thimble-sized amount of standing water. The smallest bit of stagnant H20 could become a teaming nest of larvae.
If you have a pool or spa cover with solid material, you know how water from rain, nearby sprinklers, or other sources can gather on top of it. Or, in rare cases of a tear in the material, pool water can seep to the surface and sit.
Sunshine and wind will evaporate small amounts of water, but greater volumes may remain for days on end without drying out. Don’t let this happen. Water can become stagnant after sitting for one week.
At least once a week, remove any water that’s accumulated on the cover. Sweep it off onto a nearby lawn, or dry it off with old towels. To remove larger amounts, use a shop vac.
7. Eliminate any potential water reservoirs.
Ponds, puddles, and abandoned pools are obvious breeding grounds for mosquitoes. However, even small objects—like ones you have around your pool and yard right now—with standing water can become ground zero for a new batch of larvae.
You would be surprised at what can catch and preserve small pockets of water. Potential receptacles include old tires, bird baths, pool toys like inflatable rafts and plastic buckets, empty flower pots, and overflow plates beneath flower pots. Then there’s Fido’s water bowl that’s been sitting outside unused for months.
Rain gutters and drainage collection points should also be on your radar. Ditto goes for any toys, tools, patio furniture or accessory, or household item or equipment left outside. Check for items that have holes, crevices, or depressions that can trap water. For example, even a hand shovel left out laying horizontal can retain a few teaspoons of rainwater.
Once you know the target items, take preventative action. Your goal is to completely eliminate any breeding-ground opportunity for mosquitos.
Remove or store those items you can. For those left outside, check for water and empty them out. Clear storm drains and gutters of debris that can cause clogs, choking off normal water flow. Once you’ve removed the water, the ideal next step is to set out the objects in the sun to completely dry out.
Remember: Removing or preventing just one source of stagnant water can help avert an entire new swarm of mosquitoes!
8. Drop larvicide into suspect water.
Even after you vigilantly root out sources of standing water and objects where water could collect, there may still be more to do when it comes to stagnant water.
Your backyard may have objects, features, or conditions that you cannot simply remove or easily drain, like a problematic storm gutter or a big puddle of water in the woods behind your home. Or, maybe, you just want to keep a bird bath or courtyard fountain.
These special features and conditions will contain water that can be motionless enough for mosquitoes to breed. To prevent the water from becoming their maternity ward, you must destroy any eggs that make it to the larva stage.
Special insect growth inhibitors kill larvae so they never mature to flying adulthood. They are available in various forms, including tablets, pellets, granular, and briquette. Manufactures state that their products are non-toxic to pets, plants and people, and that it is safe to use in a backyard.
Be proactive. Use this product anywhere likely to have standing or slow-moving water. Add it to ponds, gutters, bird baths, standing fountains, and any other feature or object in your outdoor space where water can collect. They can protect the water source from larvae for up to a month.
9. Hire an expert.
Even if you implement the tactics outlined here, some backyards have unique conditions that cultivate large mosquito populations.
Your yard may contain dense trees or heavy shrubbery. You may live next door to an empty lot with overgrown grass. Your property line may abut a marshy area or pond with aquatic plants that create pockets of standing water. Any of these can give rise to a stubborn infestation.
That’s when you may need a pro. Pest control firms may be able to offer additional solutions. For example, their service technicians can apply insecticides in hard-to-reach areas like tall trees or on certain kinds of building materials used in your home’s construction.
Someone on the job of hunting mosquitos may spot particular issues in your backyard and provide more advanced, aggressive methods. They often use a multi-prong attack plan to get rid of the insects and help inhibit their return.
10. Deploy extra tactics for a backyard event.
Having a pool party, backyard cookout, or other special outdoor activity? It might be worth going the extra mile to keeping mosquitoes at bay. It may be time for supplemental warfare.
One method to prepare your outdoor space in advance of the big day: Effective, but temporary, spray insecticides such as pyrethrin or resmethrin.
Spray it on trees, shrubs, hedges, and plants in your outdoor space. It will kill mosquitoes that come into contact with it. However, its potency will last only for only a few hours or up to a day. Carefully read all product information and follow instructions for application.
For a non-toxic approach, use portable fans. That’s right, use “wind” to blow the mosquitoes away from key party areas where people will hang out. Set out a few fans at ground level, and turn them on. Since mosquitoes’ bodies are extremely lightweight, they have serious trouble flying in windy conditions.
Another approach for a special event is to burn citronella candles, torches, and lanterns. Derived from lemongrass, citronella oils provide a natural way to outsmart mosquitoes and minimize their bites.
When burning, the oil’s smell and smoke confuse mosquitoes—effectively disguising human and animal body odors. When mosquitos cannot detect these smells, the odds drop that they will land on you or your guests.
Since citronella oil is free of any pesticide, it may be better for pets, people, and the environment. However, for it to alter a mosquitoes’ attack path, you must be in very close proximity to the burning oil. The invisible force-field of scent won’t work if the nearest oil-burning device is more than a few feet away.
Don’t let mosquitoes mess with your backyard fun. You invested in a backyard resort, so keep flying pests from making your day anything less than perfect.
Try one or several different methods. Test which best suit your backyard space and family lifestyle—and make those mosquitoes rue the day they tried to crash your party!