By Russell M. Gullo
Was your yard wet this spring? Did you have spots with standing water? If so, you’re not alone. The wet, overcast weather thus far has created the perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed, especially as temperatures begin to rise. Besides being a nuisance to those trying to enjoy their yard, mosquitoes can also be dangerous to both your family and pets. They carry a number of diseases, including West Nile Virus, which the CDC reported two cases of in Erie County in 2018. Mosquito bites can cause itching, swelling, skin irritation, hives, and other allergic reactions in humans. In pets, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm. Mosquito control and prevention is vital for those who enjoy the outdoors, and there are many natural ways to accomplish this.
Eliminate any standing water in your yard
Mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of water, so it is important to not only eliminate water from parts of the yard that collect it, but also to empty anything else that can hold water such as buckets, pots, and kids toys. Birdbaths should be dumped and refilled weekly. If you have a spot in your yard that is always wet, consider building a French drain. We suggest using either pea gravel or #2 round stone in a trench at least 12” wide, along with drain tile and landscape fabric. First, spread the landscape fabric inside the trench, and then fill in 3” of stone. Next, place your drain tile inside the trench. Make sure to pitch your drain at least 1°. Cover the drain with 4” of stone and wrapped the landscape fabric across the top. Finally, top off the drain with either more stone to grade level, or add soil and then seed or sod the area.
Clean your gutters
Gutters full of leaves, or gutters that don’t drain properly are the ideal location for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Mosquitoes go from egg to adult in about 14 days, so it doesn’t take long for them to multiply rapidly.
Plant mosquito repelling plants and herbs
These are surprisingly effective. Mosquito Plant is the most notable and is actually a form of geranium that is prized for its citrusy scent. Simply crush a leaf and rub it on your skin for natural protection. Mosquito plant is a perennial evergreen as well if brought in the house in fall.
Basil and marigolds contain natural compounds that confuse the mosquito’s senses, preventing them from being able to detect targets. This causes them to leave the area in order to recover. Other plants that repel mosquitoes include lavender, rosemary, catnip and peppermint. A potted herb garden on the patio is a great way to deter mosquitoes and have fresh herbs for the kitchen on hand!
Be nice to spiders
If you see a spider web outside, don’t blast it away with a hose. Their webs are great at catching mosquitoes, among other nuisance insects.
Install a bat house in your yard
Bats can eat up to half their body weight in insects in a single night, and mosquitos are one of the many insects that they dine on. They also eat many insects that damage flowers, trees, and shrubs, an added bonus for the health of your landscape.
Clean up, rake, and trim
Dead leaves, clumps of grass clippings, and overgrown border areas are other ideal areas for mosquitoes to breed. By keeping a well-maintained yard, you will limit opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.