How to Repel Mosquitoes Naturally
Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insect pests alive. If you live in an area with a lot of them, it can completely destroy your summer and prevent you from enjoying outdoor activities in the cooler and more pleasant morning and evening hours.
With the arrival of West Nile Disease, mosquitoes have also become dangerous to citizens of non-tropical countries for the first time in many years.
Here are some tips for controlling mosquitoes around your home without pesticides or other dangerous chemicals.
Destroy Mosquito Habitats
- The first step you should take is to examine your yard thoroughly a day or two after a heavy rainfall, looking for areas with standing water that might harbor mosquito larvae. Not all of these areas will be natural—in fact, some mosquitoes show a decided preference for breeding in old tires and similar man-made water collectors. Dump out any standing water you find, or better yet, remove the breeding habitat completely.
- Be careful to change water in bird baths at least two times per week.
- If you own a pond, consider adding a waterfall or fountain to prevent the water from becoming stagnant. Adding koi is another good idea—koi voraciously eat mosquito larvae, pupae, and adults. Other good mosquito-eating fish include: goldfish, mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis), Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas), and Golden shiners (Notemigonus crysoleucas).
- Cut edge plantings back so they don't overhang the water, and keep aquatic plants from growing in still corners of the pond, to keep them from providing protection for mosquito larvae.
- Do provide some underwater and emergent plants such as sedges or rushes, however, because dragonflies (another voracious mosquito eater) will use these plants to climb out of the water when changing from their nymph form to adults.
Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
There are a number of plants that repel them. Planting a mix of these plants around your home and patio can create mosquito-free zones for outdoor entertaining and other activities.
- One of the most famous is citronella grass, which is used by manufacturers to make citronella candles.
- Another well-known plant is the marigold. These cheery flowers repel many other insect pests as well, but are popular nectar sources for butterflies.
- Catnip is famous for attracting cats, but what is less well known is that it also repels mosquitoes! In fact, studies have found that catnip oil is more than 10 times better at repelling them than DEET!
- The lovely and aromatic garden herbs rosemary, basil, lavender, lemon balm, and lemongrass are also effective.
More plants that repel mosquitoes:
- bee balm/bergamot
There are two different kinds of plants commonly sold as "mosquito plants." One is a type of geranium that has been genetically modified to produce citronella oil. The other is Agastache cana, also known as Giant Hyssop, Bubblegum Mint, or Hummingbird Mint.
Bring in the Cavalry
Fish and dragonflies are not the only animal that love a tasty mosquito. Birds, bats, frogs, and toads will also take a significant chunk out of the insect population.
- The best are swallows and their relatives, purple martins. Providing birdhouses can encourage these attractive and helpful species to take up residence.
- Bats also appreciate a home, and commercially made bat houses are also available.
- To learn more about attracting frogs and toads to your yard, please read Attracting Frogs and Toads To Your Garden.
- If you live in an area where they are allowed, domestic poultry also make fantastic mosquito control assistants. The best species include chickens, guinea hens, and ducks. Although free range birds are most effective, even birds confined to runs or "chicken tractors" can take a bite out of your mosquito problem.
More Mosquito Repelling Tips
- Eating a diet heavy in onions and garlic can make you unattractive to them.
- They find their prey partly through carbon dioxide. If you are outside in mosquito-heavy locations, avoid overheating or exercising as much as possible, as these cause you to emit more carbon dioxide.
- Curiously, they seem to be more attracted to people who consume diets high in sugary or processed foods. Eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits may help reduce your attractiveness to them.
- Avoid wearing floral or fruity scents from perfumes, sunscreens, soaps, laundry detergent, and similar products.
- Some people swear by vitamin B-1 (thiamin) tablets.
- Chemical-Free Mosquito Control
Mother Earth News' article about how to use chemical-free mosquito control to combat mosquitoes, including physical and biological control methods.