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9 Tips To Prepare For Mosquito Season
We all love summer and look forward to its arrival every year. Unfortunately, as the weather starts to get warmer, we also get an influx of those pesky biting mosquitoes. Nobody wants to spend their summer indoors hiding from them, but how can you minimize the disturbance and enjoy your backyard fully? All you need are these tips to prepare for mosquito season and you’ll be living it up outside in no time.
1. Standing Water
Probably THE most effective thing you can do to cut down on the mosquitoes in and around your home is to completely remove any stagnant or standing water. This undisturbed water is literally a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s where they lay their eggs and their larvae hatch. If you remove their breeding ground, they can’t multiply. No new mosquitoes born on your watch is a good thing.
Removing any stagnant water will disrupt their life cycle which is why this one of the best tips to prepare for mosquito season. If the standing water isn’t 100% necessary then just don’t have it.
Many people love bird baths, have empty containers lying around that can fill with rain water, or an unused kiddie pool. These are all perfect habitats for mosquitoes. Rainwater that sits undisturbed for as little as a week will become the perfect place for mosquitoes to breed. This includes even small puddles. Try to disburse the water as much as possible to remove the puddle entirely.
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While it may not be possible to eliminate all containers of water, the best thing to do is make sure that the water doesn’t sit for more than a week. Make sure you empty and refill as needed every week to avoid an influx of mosquitoes. If you can’t commit to changing the water and need standing water for some reason, just make sure it is covered so the mosquitoes can’t get in.
2. Citronella and Other Deterrents
Citronella is your friend during mosquito season. Some good tips to prepare for mosquito season revolve entirely around it. The first tip is to have some citronella candles on hand at home.
If you know you’re going to be spending time outside, spread some of the citronella candles around the perimeter of where you’ll be. And then, of course, light them.
Since mosquitoes don’t like citronella, another tip is to plant some rose scented geraniums, which contain citronella oil, in your garden.
Another plant deterrent is catnip. If you have a cat, they will enjoy it but it will also help to ward off those pesky mosquitoes. Like citronella, they just don’t like it. Fill your garden with everything that mosquitoes hate and you will reap the benefits come summer. You can also plant lavender, basil and citronella grass. Who knew that a pretty garden can also keep mosquitoes away?
3. A Little Help From the Animal Kingdom
Another way to prepare for mosquito season is to encourage animals that eat mosquitoes into your yard. You can hang a bird feeder and enjoy the birdsong while they eat your mosquitoes.
Other animals that eat mosquitoes are fish, frogs, bats, chickens and dragonflies. Consider getting a bat house to entice some bats to take up residence, or get some chickens if you’re permitted. Fresh eggs and mosquito-eating. That’s a win/win.
Fish will eat mosquitoes so if you already have a backyard pond, consider adding some extra fish. It isn’t recommended to install a pond just for this purpose though due to the standing water risk.
4. The Herbal Remedy
The reason that plants like citronella and catnip work to deter mosquitoes is because of their scent. Mosquitoes find us first by our scent. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out and can find us from 10-50m away using just their olfactory sense. They use their vision to see us and are able to sense the heat our bodies emit to really zero in on their food source (us).
Because scent is the first thing that directs a mosquito our way, using essential oils of scents they dislike will help to stop them from checking us out in the first place. Some of the most effective essential oils to have on hand during mosquito season are mint, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon (citronella)/lemongrass, lavender clove and tea tree oil.
Whip up an easy, all natural mosquito repellent by filling a 16oz glass spray bottle 3/4 with alcohol or witch hazel. Then add 10 drops of lemon and 10 drops of mint. Add 5 drops each of lavender, clove, eucalyptus and rosemary. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with distilled water and you’re done. Just shake before each use.
Remember, you also have to smell the repellent so you want to make is as nice-smelling to you as possible. Try to keep the lemon and mint in there but you can play around with the other essential oils to get a fragrance you enjoy. Just make sure to keep the concentration of essential oil to water to alcohol/witch hazel consistent.
If the herbal repellents are beyond you, or too expensive to buy all those oils, you can just pick up an off the shelf mosquito repellent. Look for the highest concentration of DEET you can find. In my experience, the best places to purchase high quality, DEET rich repellents are an outdoor store. Basically, any store that specializes in outdoor summer activities like hunting, fishing and other water sports.
If you simply can’t be outside in the open with mosquitoes, consider getting a screened-in gazebo or other structure. That way you can be outside in the yard and dine al fresco, without the constant mosquito disturbance. Obviously, the screens need to be completely hole and gap free for this to work. One or two might come in when you are opening and closing the door but one or two are easily dealt with.
Another tip to prepare for mosquito season is to check all the screens on your home. Make sure there are no gaps or holes that would let the mosquitoes in. If there are, patch or replace the screens.
6. Stock Your Medicine Cabinet
During the summer at least one or two mosquito bites are unavoidable. Even if you apply all the tips to prepare for mosquito season here, it’s likely you’ll still get that itchy, red bump appear. If we can’t prevent the bites altogether then we also need to prepare for how we are going to treat them.
Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with a low-potency hydrocortisone cream. The main issue with mosquito bites, especially in kids, is that scratching them makes them more itchy and can break the skin. The hydrocortisone will help ease the itching and the bite should go away on its own within a few days.
Stock up on bandages as well. If you can’t get to the skin to scratch, then you won’t make your bites worse. Excessive scratching of a mosquito bite will make it more painful and prolong the time you have to deal with it on your skin. Try everything you can not to scratch!
7. Time It Right
If doing any or all of these tips seems like too much work for then there is one simple thing you can do that requires no effort: when planning your outdoor activities, avoid the times of day when mosquitoes are most abundant. This means avoiding both dawn and dusk. Stay inside during these times and you will limit the impact of the mosquitoes.
8. Where There’s Smoke
While smoke isn’t really something you can prepare ahead of time it’s still worth noting that mosquitoes are repelled by smoke. If you are camping this summer, start your camp fire early to deter the lurking mosquitoes. Keep lots of wood to burn on hand and keep the fire going as long as you are sitting out.
If it’s permitted in your back yard, construct a fire pit. Your neighbors will be jealous and you can enjoy the fire while repelling mosquitoes at the same time. It’ll be like camping but without having to leave the comfort of your house.
9. Buy New Clothes
It has been shown that mosquitoes use their olfactory sense to first detect us but after that, they use their vision to isolate us from the background. When enjoying time outside, wear light clothing that is not a high contrast to the background. Make it harder for them to find you.
You also need light clothes to limit your sweating. Mosquitoes are attracted to our sweat so keeping yourself cool is key.
Hopefully, you will use some or all of these tips to prepare for mosquito season to prolong the hours you can spend outside this summer. With fewer mosquitoes, those hours will be even more enjoyable. And remember, if you can only do one thing, the best thing to do is to remove the standing/stagnant water entirely from your property.
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