Written by Jaymi Naciri
Mosquitoes are annoying. That’s not news to anyone. They can make it hard to enjoy the outdoors, what with their swarming, biting, and disease carrying. Which is a shame, since, in many areas, there’s a limited amount of time to enjoy the sunshine before the shivery cold winter descends again.
There are some ways to keep mosquitoes contained, or at least lessen their impact, in your outdoor space. They range from stuff you put on you to stuff you put in you (all above board!), to simple changes you can make in your yard to keep them at bay. Here are a few you’ll want to try:
1. Keep your pool maintained.
2. Take care of standing water.
“Still or stagnant water is a welcome mat for mosquitoes because its their ideal breeding environment,” said This Old House. “The best defense, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is to get rid of any standing water in your yard. That means dispersing or draining any recent rainwater that has collected in gutters, buckets, furniture covers, kids’ toys, or any other containers. If you have a birdbath or a fountain, make sure the water is changed at least once a week or that the water is circulating.”
“Mosquitoes are weak flyers, so even if a fan is set on low, it can create enough airflow to keep them away,” said Real Simple. “This works best in a small area, like a deck, where you can set up two or three box fans around your guests.”
There are any number of products out there that can help ward off mosquitoes and they come in a dizzying array of wearable forms, from sprays to wipes to bracelets. You’ll want to check the ingredients if you’re sensitive or if you want to stay away from DEET, the most active ingredient in many insect repellents and also one that is potentially dangerous.
5. Use citronella oil.
Natural Living Ideas recommends using natural ingredients like citronella oil instead of toxic ingredients like DEET.
“Citronella essential oil is one of the most effective natural mosquito repellents in the world and one of the best ways to take advantage of this wonderful oil is in citronella candles,” they said. “These candles are easy to make, all natural and will release an aroma that keeps mosquitoes away. Place a few candles around your patio or garden and create a mosquito proof barrier!”
6. Use lavender.
Lavender is another oil that can repel mosquitoes, and, bonus!—its fragrant smell is lovely.
“To keep mosquitoes out of your home, add a drop of lavender to ribbon and place around open windows,” said Natural Living Ideas. You can also make a lavender body oil by adding “30 drops of lavender essential oil to two tablespoons of vegetable oil — such as olive oil — and rub onto exposed skin. Not only will you smell beautiful, but it will stop mosquitoes from landing on you!”
The smell of lavender wafting from the garden may make you happy, but mosquitoes will not share your joy. It’s just one of 31 plants that repel mosquitoes.
8. Go the citrus route.
“If the mosquitoes are eating you alive, try rubbing a few lemon or orange peels on your skin,” said Daily Finance. “The citrus oil and scent act as a natural repellent, and it works great for gnats too. If you don’t have any fruit handy, a little vanilla extract or baby oil can also do the trick.”
That Italian dinner you enjoyed last night can help you keep the bugs at bay the next day.
“After eating lots of garlic, garlic oil is gently released from your pores,” said Natural Living Ideas. “This garlic oil acts almost like a barrier between your skin and the mosquitoes.”
10. Make some lemon-eucalyptus spray.
Another natural alternative to traditional repellents, this natural version for mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks “is government-approved for being just as effective as DEET,” said Daily Finance. “On top of that, you can easily make your own spray for around $2 a bottle. Simply take a small spray bottle and fill it up halfway with distilled or boiled water. Next, fill up the rest of with some witch hazel from your local pharmacy. Then top it all off with 50 drops of lemon-eucalyptus oil, commonly found at most health food stores.”