Mosquitos aren’t just “buzz” killers, they’re also a real cause for concern. Between West Nile virus and Zika, keeping mosquitoes at bay could be paramount for keeping you, your family and your pets healthy. The good news is, there are safe, effective and natural ways to keep mosquitoes away from your patio. Enjoy outdoor living all summer long — from dawn to dusk and into the evening — with these 19 natural repellents.
1. Remove any stagnant water
Mosquitoes prefer stagnant water to lay their eggs. They normally infest ponds, marshes, swamps and other wetland habitats. But, they will lay eggs and thrive in various location including that empty flower container filled with stagnant water by your patio. Check your backyard for standing water.
Plates under flowerpots, open garbage and recycling bins, kiddy and pet pools, and even small items like bottle caps can be breeding grounds for mosquitos. To avoid infestation, drain any standing water in the yard. Fresh water sources like ponds can also attract mosquitos, but don’t worry about your pool. If it’s chlorinated, and the filter is working, they’ll stay far away.
2. Bring in a pro
An exterminator will inspect areas that can collect water and become a prime breeding grounds for pesky mosquitos — areas like gutters. They can also help break the life cycle by finding and treating where mosquitoes live and breed. Ask your local exterminator for natural pest-control solutions that will keep your family, pets and the environment safe.
3. Add natural repellents to your landscape
Marigolds are not only nice to look at, but they also have a distinct scent that naturally repels mosquitoes. Plant from seed or starter plant, and place potted marigolds on a patio deck or balcony where you spend most of your time outdoors.
Additionally, plant and grow citronella, one of the most common ingredients in insect repellents. Due to its strong smell, citronella will mask mosquito attractants.
4. Tent your patio
Tented areas can be attractive and elegant, and also keep mosquitos away from gatherings. If you’re having a small backyard gathering, it may be easiest to tent the area where guests will be eating and relaxing. Check your hardware store for tents with mosquito net accessories, or nets that can attach to outdoor umbrellas.
5. Make your own citronella candles
Citronella oil, due to its potent citrus-like scent, is one of the most common ingredients in insect repellents. To make citronella candles:
- Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Beeswax does not release toxins into the air.
- Affix wicks to the bottom of clean mason jars. Make sure the wick extends at least one inch from the top of the jar.
- Place the empty jars in the oven and warm on the lowest temperature. Warm jars will ensure the wax cools evenly.
- Once the wax is liquid and clear, stir in three drops of citronella oil per one cup of wax.
- Pour the wax into the jars and use a pencil to keep the wicks center. Once the candles have cooled and hardened trim the wicks down to about half an inch.
6. Empty your bird bath each week
Birdbaths are a great addition to any landscape. But apart from attracting birds and other wildlife, they can also be a breeding ground for mosquitos. The problem is they can often be overlooked. Change birdbath water and clean it frequently. Mosquitoes need 7 to 10 days to mature from larvae to adult. So, replacing the water about every five days will prevent mosquitos from completing their life cycle.
7. Plant garlic and rosemary
Garlic and rosemary are a delicious addition to your favorite culinary dish. And when planted outdoors, they will help to repel mosquitos. Plant them in a container and place them in an area where you generally sit on the patio. You can also bring them indoors during the colder months.
8. Use coffee grounds to repel pests
Place coffee grounds in an open container for about one month. Wherever you find stagnant water near your house or around the patio, simply sprinkle the aged coffee grounds. According to a study published in Parasites and Vectors, the mosquito eggs will float to the surface of the water due to the coffee grounds and be deprived of oxygen. Thus, they will die before they hatch.
9. Make your own mosquito repellent
DEET is used in most commercial bug repellents because it is highly effective in keeping mosquitoes away. However, for some, DEET poses a health risk. The most serious being damage to the nervous system, suggests MedlinePlus.
Making your own natural repellent is simple, here’s what you’ll need:
DIY Mosquito Repellent Ingredients
- 15 drops clove essential oil
- 15 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 4 oz distilled water
- 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin
- 1 spray bottle (8 oz)
- Add all ingredients to the spray bottle.
- Shake to mix well.
- Spray clothing to repel mosquitos — do not spray directly onto the skin.
10. Create lavender ribbons
Lavender is a favorite scent for many people but not for mosquitos. To keep mosquitoes away from your patio, add a drop of lavender to ribbons and hang them around windows, doors and beneath tables and chairs.
11. Throw a little rosemary on the barbecue
Mosquitoes love a good barbecue, but this simple trick will have them leaving in a hurry. Throw a few stalks of rosemary on hot coals and turn them into a natural mosquito repellent. Rosemary also works in a fire pit or outdoor chimney.
12. Enjoy your patio when mosquitoes are less active
During the summer months when mosquitoes are most bothersome, consider using your patio and entertaining in the evening. According to The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), mosquitos are most active between dawn to dusk.
13. Hang birdhouses throughout your yard
Birds eat hundreds of mosquitoes. Purple martins, in particular, are estimated to eat 14,000 mosquitoes per day for survival, suggests the AMCA. So, why not hang bird houses around your patio. Not only will you attract beautiful birds, but you can also rid yourself of unwanted pests.
14. Wear proper clothing
The AMCA suggests wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing that fits loosely. Make sure your arms, legs and neck are covered to avoid being bitten.
15. Use outdoor fans
Outdoor fans can be very useful for keeping mosquitoes away, since they are weak fliers. Position fans where you generally spend the most time on your patio.
16. Set up mosquito traps
Mosquito traps should not be your sole repellent, but they can work to decrease the number of egg-laying females. You can buy complicated mosquito trapping systems that need recurring maintenance or you can easily make your own at home.
- Take a plastic bottle and cut it in half.
- Melt brown sugar in hot water and mix well. When it cools, pour it into the bottom half of the bottle.
- Add baker’s yeast. According to an Indian study, mosquitoes are naturally attracted to yeast.
- Place the top half of the bottle (the funnel part) into the other half of the bottle upside down.
- Wrap black tape around the bottle to hold the two halves together, leaving the top uncovered.
- Place it in an area that normally attracts mosquitos. Just remember to change the solution every two weeks.
17. Add a little mood lighting
Some deck lighting might naturally attract mosquitoes. But, according to the AMCA, using General Electric yellow “Bug Lights” may keep mosquitoes to a minimum. These lights are not actually a repellant, per se, but they will not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights.
There are so many reasons to include mint around your patio. Mint grows easily, has a nice scent, makes and excellent ground cover, makes a refreshing tea and naturally repels mosquitoes.
19. Add red cedar mulch to your garden
Mulch is used to suppress weeds, help the soil retain moisture and reduce erosion. But it can also be useful for repelling mosquitoes. When using cedar mulch around your patio, you should see a marked reduction in the number of mosquitoes.
Have you used natural insect repellents around your patio? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
— Katherine Marko