You Can Rid Your Yard of Mosquitoes Without Spraying

The AP offers some tips
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2022 11:25 AM CDT
You Can Take Back Your Yard From Mosquitoes
This image provided by Summit Chemical Company shows a Mosquito Dunk floating in a residential fish pond. The product's active ingredient, Bti, is a bacterium strain that kills mosquito larvae in standing water.   (Summit Chemical Company via AP)

Life comes with lots of little annoyances, few of them littler or more annoying than mosquitoes. Although it may seem difficult to avoid mosquitoes, the AP offers some ways to reduce or eliminate them from your yard and garden—without resorting to insecticidal foggers or sprays (which the AP points out threaten essential pollinators and other beneficial insects while controlling only a small portion of the adult mosquito population). With the exception of those who live near a lake, marsh, or swamp or in densely packed neighborhoods, most of the blame for mosquito invasions usually falls on the property’s residents.

Mosquitoes need only one-quarter inch of water to breed, and a female can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Inspect your property for standing water. Drain or dump water as you see it, even if the amount appears insignificant—in a children's playset, clogged gutter, pot saucer, overturned trash can lid or flying disc toy—and drill drainage holes in the bottoms of vessels like tire swings. For water that’s intended to stand, such as in ponds and bird baths, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is a safe and effective way to kill mosquito larvae.

Several strains of Bt are available, each targeting different insects, so be sure to buy the israelensis strain to target mosquitoes. Bti comes in various forms, including donut-shaped briquettes called "Mosquito Dunks." The floating rings offer 30 days of protection and "will not harm people, pets, and other animals, aquatic life, or other insects, including honeybees," according to the CDC. If you don't have a pond or bird bath, you can make a DIY mosquito trap. Add a handful of straw, hay, or grass clippings to a (preferably dark-colored) pail filled with water, and let it sit for 1-2 days. Then add one mosquito dunk.

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For large infestations, tuck several buckets around the yard. The decomposing organic matter will attract the insects, which will lay eggs on the treated water. Replace water and add a fresh dunk every 30 days to thwart future generations of mosquitoes. As for so-called "mosquito plants" marketed as repellents: They do contain oils or chemicals that the insects find unappealing, but they’re not effective unless those compounds are released, such as by crushing the leaves. Merely having such a plant in the garden or a pot will not provide any benefit. In case you’re wondering, mosquitoes do serve a purpose—as pollinators and bird food. Still, because the roles they serve in these areas are minor, eliminating them from your yard will not adversely affect the ecosystem.

(Read more mosquito stories.)

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