We at TOH understand how essential outdoor entertaining is at this time of year. Unfortunately, along with the longer days and warm weather, summer brings pesky mosquitoes. Besides causing itchy welts, they can also carry disease.
If you prefer not to mess with chemical bug-killers, here are 3 nontoxic ways to keep mosquitos out of your yard—they're safe for you, kids, and even pets.
1. Don't invite them to the party
Still or stagnant water is a welcome mat for mosquitoes because its their ideal breeding environment. The best defense, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is to get rid of any standing water in your yard.
That means dispersing or draining any recent rainwater that has collected in gutters, buckets, furniture covers, kids' toys, or any other containers. If you have a birdbath or a fountain, make sure the water is changed at least once a week or that the water is circulating.
There are also plants that can help boost your yard's defenses. According to Art Laster, owner of Plant Detectives, catmint (or nepeta), marigolds, artemisia, and lavender each have mosquito-repelling qualities. Lighting a few traditional citronella candles (About $12; Terrain) also can't hurt.
2. Keep the air moving
Installing a ceiling fan on your porch or above your patio area will keep air circulating and make a mosquito landing on you less likely. Add a repellent lantern with fan-dispersion technology, such as the one shown from Stinger. The fan disperses an all-natural DEET-free repellent that Stinger guarantees will keep an area with a 15-foot radius mosquito-free for up to 12 hours.
3. Protect your exposed skin
Wearing long sleeves and pants will help deter biting critters, but that isn't always an option on hot summer nights. Making your own nontoxic, good-smelling bug spray is easy to do. Stephanie from Garden Therapy uses a recipe that mosquitoes hate; it includes specific essential oils mixed with a base of witch hazel. You can slather on as much of it as you'd like, with no ill effects. If youre pressed for time, a ready-made version by Badger contains similar ingredients ($14, Terrain) and will work too.