5 Tips for Avoiding Mosquitoes
Take back your yard from mosquitoes with smart landscaping and natural products. Our science-backed tips help scatter the swarm.
1. Landscape Strategically
Mosquitoes dislike certain aromatic plants, such as basil, lemon balm and wild sage. (In one study, basil repelled almost 40 percent of the species that can transmit malaria.) And because skeeters love dark, humid areas, keep other plants in your yard pruned to let the light in.
2. Light a Candle
And not just the old citronella standby. Sydney Crawley, an entomologist for Scotts Miracle-Gro, says some essential oils repel or kill mosquitoes when they're properly dispersed. A new Ortho candle deters pests with a mix of spearmint and lemongrass. The combination works better than citronella candles. "Oils can actually synergize each other," Sydney says.
3. Don't Waste Your Money
Sonic-wave devices. Eating garlic. Taking vitamin B. Wisconsin entomologist Susan Paskewitz says studies simply don't support those methods. She also discourages carbon dioxide traps. They may catch some bugs, but they don't dent the population: "You're still going to be attacked at a level that's going to send you running inside."
4. Stop the Breeding
You've heard it before: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. So empty the kiddie pool, and if you must have some water around (as in a birdbath or rain barrel), Susan suggests spiking it with bacteria-based mosquito dunks, which you can find at hardware stores. They dissolve in water, killing mosquito larvae but sparing other critters.
5. Read Labels
While peppermint and other essential oils show promise in candles, don't start dabbing your wrists with them. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is the only natural option the American Mosquito Control Association says is effective on skin. Look for it listed as an active ingredient in repellents. (It can also help deter ticks!)