Mosquitoes are annoying insects with long legs and a slender abdomen flanked by delicate wings. They belong to the Culicidae family and currently, there are more than 2400 known species of mosquitoes around the world. Female mosquitoes suck blood from humans and animals and sometimes end up spreading diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Millions of people get sick from dengue and malaria around the world. It is best to avoid these nasty diseases by preventing mosquito bites and killing mosquitoes. In this guide, we will discuss ways to kill mosquitoes indoors and outdoors. We will also talk about the threat of mosquitoes, their life cycle stages, their habitats, and some precautions to take to prevent and eliminate mosquitoes, indoors and outdoors. Finally, we will consider the best practices to get rid of mosquitoes in and around the house.
Table of Contents
- The Threat of Mosquitoes
- How to Detect Mosquitoes
- How to prevent mosquitoes
- Best Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
- How to get rid of mosquitoes in yard
- How to get rid of mosquitoes indoors
- Fix screens and meshes on windows and doors
- Create natural mosquito barriers
- Use a hanging bug zapper with light
- Use air conditioning or fans indoors
- Use nets and wire meshes on windows and doors
- Use indoor sprays
- Use Plugin units
- Eliminate standing water sources
- Use products that repel mosquitoes
- Keep the air circulating
- Plug-in a mosquito repellent in all rooms
- Personal protection
- Pet protection
The Threat of Mosquitoes
It is very important to kill mosquitoes because they spread terrible diseases and are even responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. In the past, man’s war against mosquitoes led to the overuse of DDT which, while effective, resulted in the deaths of birds, fish, and bees and harmed the environment. Mosquitoes also grew immune to DDT and pesticides over time. Here is some of the menace that mosquitoes cause in human beings:
Mosquito bites lead to itchiness and raised bumps in some people. The bitten region on the skin is the site where the mosquito’s saliva enters the host’s body. The saliva produces a histamine response which triggers an allergic reaction. Symptoms of mosquito bites can result in redness, itching, swelling, and even secondary skin infections resulting in pus-filled blisters. Mosquito bites can be very harmful in young children and people with poor immunity. Bites can cause severe itching and disturb a good night’s sleep. The buzzing caused by mosquitoes can keep one up all night leading to fatigue, reduced efficiency, and productivity at work.
Signs and symptoms of mosquito bites
Not everyone who is bitten develops symptoms of mosquito bites. Some people hardly experience any clinical signs while others tend to develop the following symptoms:
- Redness of skin
- Swelling, wheels, and rashes
- Persistent itch
Scratching the bitten skin with dirty fingernails can cause secondary skin infections. After being bitten by the infected female mosquito, one could develop high fever rashes, headaches, joint pain, and chills. Please see a doctor immediately if these symptoms occur.
Dangerous mosquito-borne diseases
Mosquitoes can sometimes bite sick or infected animals and when they bite humans, the human can also get sick. Some of the deadly viruses transmitted by mosquito bites are:
- Dengue fever
- Yellow fever
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- LaCrosse Encephalitis
- West Nile Virus
- Zika virus
All these diseases are very unpleasant and they produce unpleasant symptoms. Some of these diseases, if left undiagnosed could even lead to death. With this in mind, it is very important to kill mosquitoes or at least use repellents to repel them. Some of the mosquito-borne diseases listed above are rare while others are common. A few diseases mentioned above do not have any medication for the diseases but only for treating their symptoms. Most of these diseases begin with bad flu-like symptoms which progress rapidly. Malaria results in bursting of red blood cells which causes uncontrollable shaking and very high fever in people. Dengue results in a decrease in platelet count leading to weakness, joint aches and fatigue. Some of these mosquito-borne diseases also result in jaundice and kidney or liver failure, resulting in death.
How to Detect Mosquitoes
Most insects and bugs go about their jobs of biting humans in a quiet manner. As a result, many of us do not know what bit us and often times, the symptoms of bug bites are also quite similar. Mosquitoes are well known for their itching bites and they also produce an annoying buzz near our ears. This ‘singing in the ear’ is one of the most common signs of the presence of mosquito. In addition, it helps to know the physical features of mosquitoes and different stages of their life cycle:
- As stated above, mosquitoes belong to family Culicidae and order Diptera or ‘true flies’ characterized by the presence of well-developed forewings, and shorter knobbed hind wings.
- Bodies of mosquitoes are clearly distinguished into the head, thorax and abdomen.
- They have an elongated proboscis extending forward from the head with the presence of scales on the veins and borders of the wings.
- Size of mosquitoes varies from species to species but is generally no more than 15 mm in length.
- The proboscis of a female mosquito is adapted for piercing and sucking blood.
Other signs of mosquitoes
Bzzzzz is the sound produced by a mosquito and it is heard all around the world. Only the female mosquitoes buzz and they are also the ones that bite humans and animals and spread diseases. Male mosquitoes survive on fluids and liquids obtained from fruits, flowers and other organic material. The buzz is produced due to the beating of mosquitos’ wings nearly 500 times a second. They can fly at a rate of 1.4 to 2.6 km/hr. Female mosquitoes do not sting as they have no stinger. Instead, they pierce and suck blood using their mouthparts. They identify their victims using carbon dioxide from exhaled breath and scents given off through the sweat of sleeping humans. The female mosquito needs about 50 seconds to attach itself to the host’s skin and approximately 2 minutes to finish off feeding.
Where are mosquitoes commonly found?
You will find mosquitoes in most coastal areas and particularly in tropical regions. They are almost always found near water bodies as they need water to keep their eggs moist. When the eggs hatch, they release larvae which develop into pupae and later on in fully grown adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need water bodies and they do not feed too far from their breeding grounds. As a result, you can find mosquitoes in gardens near lakes, ponds, pools, bird baths, and clogged rain gutters etc. You can equip yourself with torches, buckets, shovels and protective clothing to search for mosquito larvae and eggs on your property. If it has recently rained, you can see mosquitoes inside planters, containers, bird baths, clogged rain gutters etc.
How to prevent mosquitoes
Simple steps are all that you need to prevent getting bit by mosquitoes. Of course, you must use personal protection but you also need an integrated pest management approach when it comes to dealing with these critters. Integrated pest management means you need to follow a few techniques that can help you become more proactive about mosquito elimination. It is especially important to understand how mosquitoes develop and their life cycle progresses. This know-how is crucial for the complete elimination of mosquitoes. You need to understand that different species of mosquitoes have different behaviors, different habitats and also different feeding habits. For example, the Asian tiger mosquito can transform into an adult from its egg stage within just a week and it can complete all of its stages in as little as a teaspoon of water! What this information tells us is that we need to eliminate standing water sources every 4-6 days. Doing this simple thing can help you halt the production of mosquitoes considerably. So the key to eliminating and preventing mosquitoes can be summarized in the following steps:
Eliminate water sources
- Inspect your garden daily for waterlogging; mosquitoes can breed in the tiniest of water and can lay hundreds of eggs.
- Cover up pits and holes where rainwater can accumulate. You might need to use a shovel for the job. In extreme cases, you might even need help from a professional landscaper to permanently cover up these holes and pits and make your land even and uniform. This is essential to flatten out the land and prevent water logging.
- Empty out water saucers placed under planters and throw away bottles, empty paint cans, pots and sheeting.
- Clean out birdbaths and feeders regularly.
- Keep gutters clean and in good repair so that they drain rainwater out completely.
- Stock ponds with frogs and fish that feed on mosquito larvae for natural control.
Clean your indoor environment to deter mosquitoes
- Clean buckets and empty and dry out water storage containers. Keep your bathrooms clean and dry. You can spray vinegar around drains and fly-screens to clean away dirt and also repel all kinds of bugs.
- Make sure you clean dustbins and trash cans in your kitchen.
- Empty water from kids’ toys, watering cans placed in balconies, pet food dishes, containers kept for recycling etc.
Schedule regular cleaning sessions for your yards and indoors to prevent mosquitoes.
Steps to take in case you cannot eliminate water sources
A situation might arise when mosquitoes start breeding in your fish ponds or backyard lakes. Naturally, you cannot empty all of this water out. Thankfully, there is a natural product available that can be added to such water bodies and it eliminates mosquitoes without harming the fish, frogs and other flora and fauna in the water. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacterium is available in the form of granules that can be added to water. It kills mosquito larvae and eggs without harming the reptiles, birds, bees, fish etc. You can also add methoprene – a compound that is a larval growth inhibitor. Methoprene prevents larvae from molting into adult mosquitoes. Both BTi and Methoprene are readily available in garden stores.
Make community-wide efforts
All of the above efforts of preventing mosquitoes will go to waste if your neighbors unknowingly harbor mosquitoes in their yards. So you need to make community-wide efforts to curb the mosquito population.
- Talk to community members about mosquito breeding grounds, ways of elimination and the integrated approach to mosquito prevention.
- Organize a community-wide cleanup and get everyone involved. Teach people how mosquitoes make their homes in discarded containers, trash cans, old tires, rusting toys and plastic cans, etc that fill up with rainwater. Make efforts to recycle or reuse these items.
- You must also talk about eliminating dirty standing water sources.
- Speak to your town council about regular spraying of pesticides and addition of larvicides or BTi to lakes/ponds/ water bodies which cannot be emptied out.
- Also, get professional pest control companies to use bug eliminating foggers and sprays around the neighborhood.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
How to get rid of mosquitoes in yard
Mosquitoes in the yard can prevent you from enjoying your summer BBQs and evening get-togethers. Sometimes, mosquitoes in the backyard tend to get worse over the years, especially as the weather turns warmer. You might experience bites around your legs and ankles each time you garden or stand or sit outdoors. A little investigation is important here if you want to save time and money in getting rid of yard mosquitoes. Inspect your yard for accumulated water sources. Getting rid of mosquitoes in the yard is then as easy as taking the following measures:
Eliminate water sources
All mosquitoes need water bodies to lay eggs. Also, most mosquitoes prefer laying eggs in empty containers. There are plenty of these ‘containers’ both manmade and natural for mosquitoes to lay eggs in. They include old tires, pots and planters, bird baths, rain gutters, old tin cans, buckets and so on. Spring and summer rains flood the containers and cause the mosquito eggs to float up to the surface. Even a small container with a cup of water can carry hundreds of mosquito larvae. Since most mosquito species do not like to travel far away from their breeding grounds, they stay close to these water filled containers. So the best way to get rid of mosquitoes from the yards is to eliminate all these water sources. If you have a mosquito problem in your yard, check from mosquito habitats. Eliminate all standing water sources. Check your rain gutters and remove clogs and debris. Drain the standing water. Clean out bird feeders and replace the water in it daily. Once you eliminate all these sources of water, you will see fewer mosquitoes in your yard.
Here are some more suggestions to get rid of mosquitoes in the yard:
- Throw out the trash. Recycle plastic containers.
- Prevent filling up of water in planters or other useful containers that you cannot throw.
- Clear out dried leaves and debris from rain gutters. Check the drain spouts to ensure that trapped rainwater has a way of flowing off into the ground.
- Avoid placing pet water bowls outdoors. If you do, have them cleaned daily and replace their water every day. Same is the case with pots and bird water feeders.
- If you have a pond, stock it up with frogs and fish that feed on mosquito larvae.
- Cover rain barrels.
- Fill up tree stumps and holes.
Use insecticide sprays around the yard
- Spray insecticides outdoors to kill adult mosquitoes. You can even have your neighborhood treated with insecticide sprays outside your home. Trained pest-control professionals wear masks while spraying near cool, damp places where mosquito populations like to hide and breed. These insecticides are normally safe for use around humans.
- You may want to remove clutter from your yard while it is being treated with insecticide sprays. Spraying can be done any time during the day and it will keep mosquitoes away for a few weeks. The professionals use mosquito sprays that are non-toxic to humans and safe around pets, elderly patients and infants.
Use mosquito coils/products you can burn to deter mosquitoes
- Pyrethroid or allethrin based mosquito coils can be burnt outdoors to prevent mosquitoes from coming near you. These coils emit smoke with a strong scent that masks human scents which attract mosquitoes to their hosts. Most coils last for 8 hours. Note that mosquito coils do not kill mosquitoes; they only repel them.
- You can also use citronella candles to repel and prevent mosquitoes, both indoors and outdoors. Apparently, mosquitoes and other bugs hate the scent of citronella and it is also a completely natural and pleasant smell that most humans love.
Racquet style bug zappers are effective in killing mosquitoes and they either come in the rechargeable form or with batteries. Zappers are highly effective ways to prevent mosquitoes indoors and outdoors especially during your backyard BBQs and get-togethers. As long as your zapper is fully charged or equipped with new batteries, it can do a pretty good job of packing a serious electric punch against the pesky mosquitoes. You can also use hanging-style zappers which emit a light that attracts mosquitoes and other bugs and zaps all winged creatures that fly into its electric grid. Bug zappers are efficient ways to prevent mosquitoes from your premises and they are usually safe for humans.
Fog up the place
Foggers emit a fine spray of mosquito repelling insecticides which can penetrate foliage, water bodies etc and spread completely over the infested area. This effectively controls mosquito populations around water bodies and kills larvae and eggs. Foggers are of different types based on the mechanism used and the chemicals inside them. Based on this, you could have cold foggers, thermal foggers, and propane or electric foggers, etc. Majority of foggers are lightweight and can be used for treating factor premises, large houses, yards, and other infested areas. A disadvantage of using foggers is that apart from mosquitoes, they could also harm bees, birds, fish, and other useful fauna. Here are some more features of foggers:
- Foggers can be safely used indoors and outdoors but you and your pets must leave the premises while they are being treated. Do cover up fish tanks during treatment.
- Return to your home only after the fog has dried.
Use essential oils and herbs
- Certain essential oils are quite effective in deterring mosquitoes. Some of the best insect repellent essential oils are Lavender, Thyme, Citronella, Lemongrass, Germanium, and Peppermint. You can make a blend of these oils and mix the blend with a bit of Aloe Vera gel. Rub this ‘gel’ on the exposed parts of your feet, hands, and face while in infested areas.
- You can also add a few drops of the oils to a bit of vodka or rubbing alcohol and spray the blend around you. This will keep you from getting bitten.
- Candles made from essential oils can also prevent mosquitoes. Citronella candles, as stated above, are highly effective and burning them can prevent mosquitoes from ruining your backyard get-togethers.
- You can also plant herbs like mint, citronella, catnip, lemongrass in your garden as the strong scents of these herbs keeps mosquitoes away from your property.
- Place cotton wool balls soaked in Lavender/Vanilla/Lemongrass essential oils around your picnic table to keep mosquitoes and other bugs away.
- Add a few drops of Lavender/Tea Tree/Citronella oil on a glass bulb near your picnic area. When the light is switched on, the heat will release the oil’s scent and repel bugs.
How to get rid of mosquitoes indoors
Your first instinct when you see a mosquito in your home is to swat at it. However, swatting makes you an easy target in that; it makes you move your muscles, which releases lactic acid which in turn produces a scent that attracts the mosquitoes to you. Mosquitoes are also drawn to the carbon dioxide produced during exhalation. Naturally, you cannot avoid breathing and moving but you can take the following measures to keep mosquitoes away.
Fix screens and meshes on windows and doors
To keep mosquitoes out of the house, make sure you have a screen on every window of the house and ensure that it is in good condition.
Create natural mosquito barriers
Plant herbs such as tansy, basil, lemongrass or citronella near your house to create a natural mosquito barrier.
Use a hanging bug zapper with light
These attract mosquitoes and other bugs and zap them instantly. This will help keep them from entering your home.
Use air conditioning or fans indoors
Stay indoors with the air conditioning on, especially during warmer months. Mosquitoes prefer warm surroundings and that is why they are more active during warmer months. Fans and air coolers help repel these bugs to some extent.
Use nets and wire meshes on windows and doors
- Fix wire meshes on doors and windows. Inspect these meshes from time to time and fix holes or gaps immediately.
- You must also sleep under mosquito nets especially if you do not like using smelly repellents on your person. A mosquito net creates a physical barrier between the mosquito and the people they want to bite. It is particularly useful if you do not have screens on your windows and doors.
- Please note that certain mosquito species do not just bite at night; they also bite during the day time. It is therefore very important to place mosquito nets over baby’s crib throughout the day.
Use indoor sprays
- Consider indoor sprays when your house does not have screens or wire meshes on windows. You can buy the sprays from shops and DIY spray them yourself. However, trained professionals may also be called to spray insecticides inside your home.
- Mosquitoes like cool, damp places, so spray under tables, behind furniture, under beds, sofas, and cabinets and in the laundry rooms and bathrooms.
- Some products last for weeks but most last only for a few hours.
- Spraying usually kills adult mosquitoes. The larvae and eggs can still survive. So repeat spraying again to eliminate newly hatched mosquitoes.
- Indoor aerosol mosquito sprays come in large cans which can be bought off the Internet or from any drug store or general store. You can spray the aerosol around the corners of rooms, under the beds, and near bathrooms to keep mosquitoes away. Make sure to keep all doors and windows closed while treating the house with indoor bug sprays. These sprays also prevent flies, chiggers, gnats and fruit fly apart from keeping mosquitoes away.
- You need to repeat spraying after a few hours as the effect reduces once the spray’s smell disappears. Spray every room before bedtime to keep your home free from mosquitoes.
Use Plugin units
Mosquito repellent plug-in units contain permethrin, DEET or other chemicals, which, when heated, emit a strong scent that masks human scents. Most plug-in units effectively prevent mosquitoes and can be safely used around pregnant women and babies. You can carry plug-in units when you travel but they might need an adapter depending on where you are going. Most claim to work for a month before the aerosol refill needs replacing. Plug in units also come with tablet form which, when heated, releases the repellent in the air.
Eliminate standing water sources
Mosquitoes can breed inside your home as well. To eliminate water sources like dripping taps and leaking pipes. Clean bathrooms. Cover water storage containers and dry off water buckets and bathtubs. Clean fish tanks/aquariums and replace the water inside. Inspect and examine indoor planters, vases, fish bowls, etc and dry them completely.
Use products that repel mosquitoes
To drive mosquitoes out of the house, use pennyroyal oil spray or citronella candles/sprays. Mosquitoes hate the scent given off by these products that are readily available in general stores.
Keep the air circulating
Switch on the fan or air conditioning. Mosquitoes hate cool, circulating air as they generally prefer warm atmospheres.
Plug-in a mosquito repellent in all rooms
You can also burn coils with allethrin or herbal formulations that repel bugs and mosquitoes. Mosquito repellent plug-in units are of different types. Some even emit an ultrasonic frequency that keeps all kinds of bugs including mosquitoes, rodents, squirrels, flies and household pests away.
- Wear light-colored, full sleeved clothes. Mosquitoes sense the heat so if your skin is covered, the heat is harder to detect. Avoid wearing dark colors and especially colors like blue and black. These colors attract mosquitoes.
- Apply/spray insect repellents on your skin and clothes. Use repellent creams that are EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved and contain one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, 2-undecanone, Oil of lemon/eucalyptus or paramenthanediol. Apply all overexposed areas of your body but avoid getting the product in the eyes and mouth. These repellents are generally safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as young babies.
- You can also apply mineral oil and citronella essential oil liberally. These repel mosquitoes and other bugs.
- Stay indoors during sunset.
- Use a bug zapper racquet to swat mosquitoes away.
- Dab a few drops of vanilla on your wrists to naturally repel mosquitoes.
- Sleep under mosquito nets attached over your bed.
Mosquitoes are a nuisance to pets and can cause diseases like filaria or heartworms in them. To keep your pets safe from mosquitoes, use herbal formulations like citronella, pennyroyal, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass etc. These are available in the form of shampoos and sprays or even dusting powders. Your vet can also administer preventive oral drugs, spot treatments or collars that can keep mosquitoes, fleas and other harmful parasites away from your pet. Here are some more protective measures you can take:
- Make your own herbal mosquito collar by dipping a handkerchief in essential oils of lavender/tea tree or eucalyptus. Let the collar dry completely. You can now attach the collar around your pet’s neck. Re-treat the collar with oil after a few days to strengthen the scent of the oil.
- Use cedar-filled bedding for pets as it repels mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.
- Pay attention to your pet’s health. Feed them nutritious food to strengthen natural defense against mosquitoes. Add some garlic to the food to make their blood unpalatable to parasites. You can also add Brewer’s yeast to their food as it has natural pest repelling properties.
- Ultrasonic plug-in unit for bug repellence may be safely used around pets to keep them safe from mosquito bites.
Man’s war against mosquitoes is far from over. These deadly vectors of diseases are considered even more dangerous than sharks. In 1996, the World Health Organization declared mosquitoes to be the worst menace of all disease transmitting organisms. Every year, 300 million cases of malaria are reported worldwide resulting in nearly 3 million deaths. That just shows how important it is for us to use methods to control and prevent mosquitoes. We hope this guide helps you choose the right tools and an integrated pest management approach to eliminate mosquitoes from your house and yard.