How to get rid of mosquitoes

Close Up View of a Mosquito

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Nothing ruins a summer evening in the garden quite like a cloud of whining mosquitoes. Not only are they irritating and leave itchy bites, but in some areas, they also bring disease. While mosquitoes are all but unavoidable in wet climates, there’s still a lot you can do to minimize the amount of these insects in your garden and home.

You don’t need potentially harmful chemicals, either. Many of the most effective methods for getting rid of mosquitoes are completely natural.

Dry Ice

I don’t know about you, but we don’t usually have bags of dry ice lying around so if you’re not a dry ice hoarder yourself, this home remedy for mosquitoes will require a trip to the grocery store.

It’ll also require an actual mosquito trap in order to work. That’s ’cause all the dry ice does it provide a bunch of carbon dioxide, CO2, to lure mosquitoes.

dry-ice-mosquito-repellent

You see, one of the ways mosquitoes identify and track you down is by the CO2 you emit every time you exhale. Since dry ice is just frozen CO2, it’ll release plumes of it as it melts, creating thick clouds of gas no mosquito can resist.

But that’s all dry ice can do – attract mosquitoes. You also need a way to kill them once they’re there. Of course, you can always use your hands but we’re assuming you’ve got a job and hobbies and stuff. So get a mosquito trap.

Does it work? Sorta, if you have a mosquito trap to actually do the killing.

How easy is it? Once you got the mosquito trap and the bags of dry ice set up – really easy. All you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Mosquito Repellent Plants

anti-mosquito-plants-indoors

Not only do their brighten our living space and keep the air fresh – there are some plants that also repel mosquitoes just by being themselves.

Some anti mosquito plants can be planted around your yard to keep mosquitoes off your property while some can live indoors with you to fight off mosquitoes and even feature in your pasta and teas.

Does it work? Surprisingly well. Plus, many mosquito repelling plants double as yummy herbs.

How easy is it? If you get starter plants and remember to give them water and sun – it’s easy, even if you don’t have a green thumb. Many of these mosquito repellent plants are low-maintenance and some are even weeds that’ll grow without much encouragement.

Dryer Sheets

dryer-sheets-keep-mosquitoes-away

Fabric softener sheets don’t just leave your clothes smelling fresh – they also help ward off mosquitoes. We’re not sure why mosquitoes find the smell of Bounce so offensive (note: any brand works), but hey, as long as it works. So…

Does it work? Surprisingly, yes. And it leaves you smelling lovely.

How easy is it? It’s not so easy if you rub this stuff on your skin – sure, it’ll work, but it might also irritate your skin. We suggest stuffing one or two into your pockets instead.

Beer

beer-attracts-mosquitoesMosquitoes are highly attracted to beer drinkers. In fact, just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more appealing to these blood suckers.

And it isn’t because beer increases your body temperature or even because of the ethanol they can smell on your sweat – scientists don’t know exactly why but what’s for sure is that mosquitoes have a thing for beer.

So is a glass of cheap pale ale enough to lure them in?

Sure is, it turns out.

All you have to do is save your leftover beer bottles, pour a little bit of cheap beer in each one and leave them around mosquito infested areas.

The beer-loving pests will fly in for the beer and some will drown.

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Does it work? Yes, mosquitoes seem to like the stuff. Just make sure you’re not also hanging out around the beer, drinking the stuff – you’ll get bit.

How easy is it? Very.

Avon’s Skin So Soft Bath Oil

avon-skin-so-soft-oil-for-mosquitoes

Originally intended to soften dry skin, Skin So Soft bath oil has gained a sort of cult following in the anti bug department. Not sure how it does it – but it does it.

And it’s not just great for repelling mosquitoes – it works against fleas, ants, flies, etc.

Does it work? Yes, and damn well.

How easy is it? Dump it in a spray bottle and spritz away – super eays.

Anti Mosquito Apps

do-mosquito-apps-workMosquito Run, Anti Mosquito Sonic Repeller…all these mosquito repelling apps claim to keep mosquitoes away from your vicinity with just a touch of a button.

Sound too good to be true? That’s ’cause it is.

Does it work? Flat out – no. This is one of the worst mosquito repellent home remedies because not only does it not work, but it takes up valuable space on your phone. 

These apps are supposed to “emit a very unique high frequency sound that insects dislike and is so high-pitched that most humans will not notice anything.”

You won’t notice anything because nothing is happening. And you’ll continue to get bitten.

How easy is it? You just download the app and press a button so very easy – but expect to be itchy.

Eat Garlic

garlic-mosquito-repellent

Mosquitoes are picky when it comes to scent and they loathe the smell of garlic, which is why garlic mosquito repellent is so popular for landscaping.

So the idea is that if we eat a lot of garlic, garlic oil will be released from our pores, effectively forming a sort of mosquito barrier on our skin.

Does it work? Maybe, if you’re willing to eat A LOT – seriously, a lot – of garlic on a daily basis.

How easy is it? If you love garlic, the eating part is easy. The tough part will be socializing.

Essential Oils

No list of home remedies for mosquitoes is complete without mention of DIY mosquito repellents – all of them which use a combination of essential oils to keep the pesky bloodsuckers away.

There’s been a huge boom in natural mosquito repellents lately, thanks to most of us becoming aware of how rubbing chemical toxins on our skin daily might not be the best idea…but can simple plant extracts and oils keep mosquitoes away?

Does it work? It depends which essential oils you choose, of course. But if you combine the most effective natural mosquito repellent ingredients, yes – it works.

How easy is it? Ridiculously easy. The whole making your own natural repellent for mosquitoes will take you, oh, about 5 minutes. 

Dish Soap

dish-soap-mosquito-repellent

Mosquitoes have some strange preferences. Beer, we understand, but a fatal attraction to dish soap?

Since mosquitoes seem to be drawn to liquid dish soap, the idea here is to use it as a mosquito distraction to keep them occupied while you get on with your life.

Does it work? Can you actually use dish soap to get rid of mosquitoes? No, it actually attracts mosquitoes. You see, a few squirts of dish soap in a cup or saucer will draw a crowd, which can be lead to a productive massacre. But it’s not so much a mosquito repellent as it is a mosquito attractant.

Plus, there’s nothing about dish soap that magically kills mosquitoes. To die, the mosquitoes will actually have to land in the soap, which coats them in a sticky film to prevent escape. Doesn’t always happen – actually, rarely happens. Which means you’ll just be attracting a whole lot of mosquitoes.

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How easy is it? To squirt some dish soap onto a saucer? Easy peasy. To kill all the mosquitoes who’ve swarmed on over and haven’t drowned in the soap? Will take you some time (and possibly, bites).

Clean Up Your Yard and Garden

Breeding Ground for Mosquitoes

© ThamKC / Adobe Stock

The first step in getting rid of mosquitoes on your property is to get rid of their breeding grounds. Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, but they don’t need much. Even a plant saucer with half an inch of water is enough to provide mosquitoes with a breeding site.

Look around your yard and garden for anything holding standing water and get rid of it. This includes unused flower pots, buckets, kids’ toys, and wading pools. Pull tarps tight and secure them so there are no low areas where water could accumulate.

Any source of standing water you want to keep, such as bird baths, your pet’s water bowl, and plant saucers, should be tipped out and refilled weekly. It takes just eight to 10 days for mosquito eggs to turn into adult mosquitoes, so never let water sit longer than this.

If you have standing water that’s impractical to drain, such as a drainage ditch, water garden, fish pond or rain barrel, consider using mosquito dunks. These tablets release an insecticide that kills mosquito larvae, but doesn’t harm wildlife, pets or people. To use them, just drop them into the water. Most are effective for around 30 days.

For small amounts of water, try sprinkling in used coffee grounds or pouring in coffee made from used coffee grounds. Coffee inhibits mosquito eggs from developing into larvae and discourages adult mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.

Mosquitoes also need organic material to survive, which is why they tend to flourish in the deep woods. Keeping your lawn and garden well manicured reduces the mosquito habitat space around your home. Keep your grass mowed and your shrubbery trimmed. Prune back tree branches that hang low to the ground.

Drive the Bugs Away

© B. and E. Dudziński / Adobe Stock

Once you’ve eliminated the mosquito attractants from your property, consider what you can add to repel these insects. Mosquitoes dislike the scent of certain aromatic herbs and flowers. Placing these plants around your garden seating areas can keep mosquitoes from bothering you while you’re outdoors relaxing or enjoying a meal.

To discourage mosquitoes from entering your home, place these plants in window boxes, on your balconies, and around your doors. A few good choices are:

  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Geranium
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Citronella
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemon grass
  • Catnip

Because the scent of red cedar repels mosquitoes, spreading red cedar mulch on your flowerbeds is an ideal way to keep both weeds and mosquitoes to a minimum. If you’d rather not mulch your garden, you can create a mosquito repellent by boiling red cedar mulch in water, pouring the resulting liquid into a spray bottle and spraying it wherever you want to get rid of mosquitoes outdoors. You’ll need to reapply the spray approximately every two weeks as well as after heavy rainfall.

Commercially produced mosquito repellents are also an option. These are available as sprays or granules and are typically made with oils that produce a scent mosquitoes dislike, but that won’t harm plants, people or animals. They’re designed to be applied to the grass or other landscaping plants around the edge of your property to create a barrier against mosquitoes. Most sprays should be reapplied every two or three weeks throughout the season.

Encouraging mosquitoes’ natural predators is another eco-friendly approach to mosquito control, and it’s an especially practical way to go if you have a water feature, such as a pond or water garden, that many of these predators enjoy as much as the mosquitoes do.

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Invite mosquito-eating bats by setting up bat boxes, planting night-scented flowers, and reducing the artificial lighting in your garden. Buy dragonfly larvae to add to water features, such as ponds, that don’t contain fish. Fish are likely to eat the dragonfly larvae before these larvae can do any good. Create gently sloped edges on your pond and add leafy plants there to encourage frogs and newts.

Defend Your Home

Repairing Window Screen

© oocoskun / Adobe Stock

Taking steps to reduce the mosquito population around your house goes a long way toward keeping your home mosquito free. When it comes to the house itself, though, mosquito-proof windows and doors are your first line of defense. Keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible unless they’re equipped with tightly fitting screens of the correct mesh size.

Standard window screens contain 18-by-16 mesh, but in mosquito-heavy areas, you’ll be better off with a finer mesh of 18 by 14. Periodically inspect the screens for damage such as tears or bent frames that give bugs a way to slip through.

Remember that mosquitoes can breed indoors, too, so look around your home for any standing water that should be removed or replaced regularly. This includes flower vases, plant saucers, and puddles from leaky pipes.

To keep mosquitoes away from your seating or dining areas, position an electric fan to blow over the area. The breeze diffuses the carbon dioxide mosquitoes use to locate their prey while also making it harder for them to fly. Placing a few dry sprigs of eucalyptus in vases around the house can also help because mosquitoes find the scent distasteful.

If you’re dealing with a mosquito invasion at home, camphor is one of the most effective natural ways to solve the problem. Camphor, a waxy substance from the camphor laurel tree, produces a strong odor mosquitoes avoid. To clear a room of mosquitoes, fill four small bowls with water and place two camphor tablets in each bowl, then place one bowl in each corner of the room.

For a faster solution, place one or two tablets on a heat-safe plate and leave it on a warm surface, such as a radiator, to increase the camphor’s rate of evaporation. Never leave camphor unattended near any warm surface because there’s a small chance that it can catch fire.

Burning camphor is an especially effective way to get rid of the mosquitoes in a room, but beware that the smoke created is unpleasant for people, too. If you decide to go this route, keep the doors and windows closed for one hour after burning the camphor, then open them to let out the smell and any remaining insects.

If you’d prefer your natural mosquito spray to have a scent you can actually enjoy, create your own spray using essential oils from the same mosquito-repellent plants you might grow in your garden, such as lavender, peppermint, and lemon balm.

To make the spray, fill a 12-ounce container with alcohol-free witch hazel and add 10 to 15 drops each of four or five mosquito-repelling oils in any combination you find appealing. Blend the mixture well and pour it into a spray bottle. Avoid spraying the repellent directly onto fabric, wallpaper or any other surface that could be stained by oils.

Using these oils in an aromatherapy burner is another option. To do this, add two to three drops each of two or three mosquito-repelling essential oils to the water in your burner.

Don’t have any essential oils on hand? You can still make a simple mosquito spray by boiling garlic and spraying the resulting water into the air.

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