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Manage Mosquitoes and Boost Your Outdoor Enjoyment

Manage Mosquitoes and Boost Your Outdoor Enjoyment

By Melinda Myers, melindamyers.com

Dine, play, and enjoy your outdoor spaces more than ever this year by managing annoying and disease-spreading mosquitoes. Use a multifaceted approach to help keep mosquitoes away.

Plan your outdoor activities when mosquitoes are less active. Females are the ones looking for a blood meal and are most active at dusk and dawn when looking for warmth and food.

Screened-in porches add a layer of protection but only when they are intact and properly sealed. The same applies to your home. Check screens and seals around doors and windows to help keep these pests from entering your home.

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Mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Photograph by James Gathany, CDC.

Use bug lights in light fixtures by entryways and in outdoor entertainment spaces. These emit yellow light that is not as attractive to mosquitoes and other insects. Bug lights will not eliminate every unwanted insect but will reduce the number visiting your lights at night and finding their way into your home.

Enhance the ambience and reduce mosquito issues when entertaining outdoors. Use a fan to create a cooler space and keep these weak flyers away. Some gardeners take a fan with them to the garden for just this purpose.

Provide fragrant subtle lighting at gatherings with citronella oil and scented candles. Scatter them throughout the area and within a few feet of the guests for short-term relief.

Reduce the overall mosquito population in your yard by eliminating their breeding grounds. Empty water that collects in items left outside. Change the water in your birdbath at least weekly or whenever you water your container gardens. Add a bubbler or pump to keep water moving in fountains and ponds so mosquito larvae cannot survive.

Toss an organic mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits in your rain barrel, pond, or other water feature. Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while the Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. The active ingredient is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium that kills the mosquito larvae but is safe for children, fish, pets, beneficial insects, and wildlife.

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

Keep your landscape looking its best by managing weeds and grooming neglected gardens. This eliminates some of the resting spaces for hungry adult mosquitoes.

Invite the songbirds into your backyard with bird-friendly landscapes. Most of them feed on insects, including mosquitoes and garden pests, while adding color, motion and beauty to your landscape.

Always protect yourself whenever outdoors. Cover as much of your skin as possible with loose fitting, light colored clothing. Mosquitoes are less attracted to the lighter colors and cannot readily reach your skin through loose clothing.

Further protect yourself by using a personal repellent approved by the EPA. For those looking for DEET-free options, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has approved picaridin that is considered a “conventional” repellent like DEET. It has also approved biopesticides with the active ingredients oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), PMD (a synthesized version of OLE), IR3535 or 2-undecanone. Biopesticides are derived from or are a synthetic version of natural materials.

Check the label for a list of active ingredients and safety recommendations when shopping for mosquito repellents. Avoid products that contain both sunscreen and insect repellent since you need to apply sunscreen more often than the repellent.

Spending more time outdoors is good for your mind, body, and spirit. Using a combination of mosquito-managing tactics will allow you to enjoy and benefit from your time outdoors.


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Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

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