Chemical-Free Options for Managing Mosquitoes in Your Landscape

Hummingbirds feed on mosquitoes, other insects as well as flower nectar and feeders. (Photo courtesy Melinda Myers, LLC)
Hummingbirds feed on mosquitoes, other insects as well as flower nectar and feeders. (Photo courtesy Melinda Myers, LLC)

It’s time to get outside and enjoy summer barbecues, gardening, hikes and much more. Don’t let mosquitoes keep you inside. Instead, enlist chemical-free strategies to manage these pests in your landscape.

Start by eliminating the mosquitoes’ breeding grounds. Drain the water out of buckets, old tires and clogged gutters and downspouts that hold water needed for mosquitoes to reproduce.

Check kids’ toys, tarps and pool covers that also retain water. Drain the water and store these items in the garage or turn them over to keep them from becoming a mosquito breeding ground. Even small containers hold enough water for hundreds to thousands of mosquitoes to breed.

Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week. Make it part of your routine maintenance; rinse birdbaths when watering containers. Or install a small pump to keep water moving to prevent mosquito breeding.

Use organic mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits in birdbaths, rain barrels and water features. Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. They both contain a naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis that kills mosquito larvae and are certified organic and safe for pets, fish, wildlife and children.

Use Mosquito Dunks to manage these pests in areas subject to periods of standing water. One dunk provides control of 100 square feet of water surface for 30 days. Slide a dunk over a stake secured in the problem area, preventing it from washing away in heavy rains. It remains in place and provides control when the area is flooded again.

Attract insect-eating birds to the landscape with a few birdhouses. You’ll enjoy their beauty and benefit from their diet of insects, including many garden pests and mosquitoes.

Reduce the mosquitoes’ daytime resting spaces by keeping your garden weeded. Removing weeds and managing neglected garden spaces will make your landscape less inviting to these pests.

Keep mosquitoes away when hosting a party, gardening or relaxing outdoors. Use a fan to create a gentle breeze that keeps the weak-flying mosquitoes away from you and your guests. Some gardeners even take a small fan into the garden while weeding.

Light a few citronella candles for a bit of ambience and mosquito control at your next evening party or event. Citronella oil and the scented candles do have some mosquito-repelling properties. Scatter lots of candles throughout your entertainment space. Position the candles within a few feet of your guests for some short-term relief from these pests.

These strategies and some personal protection will help you increase your summer enjoyment. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, covering as much of your skin as possible with long sleeves and pants.

For Deet-free personal repellent options, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also approved products with the active ingredient picaridin (found in Skin So Soft products), IR3535 and the synthetic oil of lemon and eucalyptus. Avoid products that contain both sunscreen and insect repellents, as you need to apply the sunscreen more often than the repellent.

Using a combination of these mosquito-management strategies is sure to provide a summer filled with more enjoyable gatherings with family and friends.

Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Summit for her expertise to write this article.