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The Best Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are persistent little biters—but that doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of them. Read this guide to discover the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes both in your home and yard.

Mosquitos in Yard iStock

Mosquitos range from being a nuisance to carriers of diseases such as malaria, West Nile, dengue, Zika, and more. There are many ways to get rid of mosquitoes, from insecticides to natural and organic options. For example, if you’re not comfortable with bug zappers, you can use natural repellents, and if you prefer to not use DEET, you can create essential oil sprays.

There are many ways to get rid of mosquitoes, but they aren’t all equally effective. The This Old House Reviews Team has rounded up the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes, all in one place. In this guide you’ll find tips on removing them from both your house and your yard.

If your mosquito problem is too serious to tackle on your own, we recommend hiring a professional pest control company to banish these bloodsuckers.

Our top recommendations for the most effective mosquito control are Orkin, Terminix, Rentokil, and Aptive. We recommend getting several quotes before you make your decision. Read on to discover how to eliminate mosquitoes the DIY way—and the benefits of going with the pros.

Mosquito Basics

Before we get into the methods for eliminating mosquitoes, let’s go over a few mosquito basics. For starters, there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, with roughly 200 species in the U.S. alone.

It’s a common misconception that mosquitoes suck blood for food. They’re not technically parasites, because they only suck blood to nourish their bodies so they can lay and hatch healthy eggs. Mosquitoes can lay 100 eggs at a time, so populations of this pest can get out of control quickly. When eliminating mosquitoes, it’s key to use multiple methods, since not all approaches kill mosquitoes at every stage of the life cycle.

It’s also important to note that repelling and killing mosquitoes aren’t the same thing. Repelling mosquitoes will keep them away from you by making you less attractive to them (they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide from our breath, elements of our sweat, and maybe even beer, according to some studies).

Killing mosquitoes may seem like a tempting option, but it’s not always in our—or the environment’s—best interest. That’s because mosquitoes can become resistant to pesticides, making them harder to kill overall. Killing mosquitoes can also be toxic to the environment, depending on the pesticide, and can mess up the natural ecosystem, since animals like birds and bats eat mosquitoes.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your House

You’re more likely to have a mosquito issue in your yard than in your home itself, but having mosquitoes buzzing around during bedtime can be frustrating.

Mosquitoes buzzing around are easier to spot during the day than at night. If it’s getting late and you want to track them down before they can make a meal out of your skin, turn on a lamp, flashlight, or your smartphone, and wait for them to be attracted to the light.

Here are the top ways to repel mosquitoes that have already hunkered down in your home.

Chemical repellent

Applying traditional chemical mosquito repellent will keep them from biting you. You should check out products that contain 30% to 50% DEET—the gold standard ingredient for mosquito repellent. In the past, there were some concerns that DEET was not safe to use on human skin, but reviews done by the Environmental Protection Agency have found that DEET continues to meet safety standards when used properly.

The effects of DEET typically last for up to 12 hours. Experts recommend using a repellent that’s 30% to 50% DEET for adults, and 10% to 30% for children over two months. Don’t spray repellent on infants under two months.

Fix any gaps

To prevent mosquitoes from entering your home, patch any gaps in screens and doors. It won’t do any good if you go through a careful process to rid your home of mosquitoes just to invite them in again. If you can see sunlight in the space around your door, that means it isn’t properly sealed. There’s an easy fix—purchase a simple door strip.

Mosquito netting

If you’re someone who likes to sleep with the windows open at night, consider getting some mosquito netting to keep yourself bite-free.

Mosquito traps

There are several ways you can get a mosquito trap—order one online, buy one from the grocery store or hardware store, or even make your own. Here’s how to make your own mosquito trap:

  1. Cut a bottle in half and flip one of the cut halves upside down.
  2. Tuck the other half into the lower half of the bottle.
  3. Boil one cup of sugar and one cup of water, then add two cups of cool water to the mixture.
  4. Let the mixture cool to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Add in a teaspoon of active, dry yeast to the mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the trap.
  7. Secure the trap with tape.

The mosquitoes will be attracted to the sugar, get stuck, and drown. You’ll need to replace your homemade solution periodically.

Oscillating fans

Mosquitoes can’t fly well against the wind. This may sound overly simple, but sometimes, simple is what you need. Turn your fan on and watch the mosquitoes scatter and ultimately give up.

Outdoor soap

Some outdoor soaps are specially designed to repel mosquitoes. After you bathe with 100% natural, non-toxic soap like Skin Armour Deep Woods Outdoor soap, the scent of your sweat won’t bother you, but it will repel mosquitoes.

Essential oils

Essential oils are said to repel mosquitoes, but they may not be as effective as traditional pesticides. Your best bet is an essential oil that contains lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus. Other options include lemongrass, peppermint, clove, and tee tree oil.

Preparation is simple. Simply mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil with one cup of water, pour it into a spray bottle, shake it up, and you’re done. You can spray it on your bare skin and around your home, but be careful not to spray it on any delicate fabrics.

Coconut oil and neem oil

A combination of coconut oil and neem oil, mixed together well with water, can repel mosquitoes for up to half a day. Spray it on your skin as a natural repellent.

Candles

Burning lavender candles, or well-known citronella, will keep mosquitoes away since they can’t stand the scent.

Garlic

You can follow the essential oil spray process using garlic instead, though it won’t smell as sweet. Many people prefer the scent of eucalyptus to garlic in large doses.

Camphor

Camphor is a versatile repellent. You can either leave tablets in your room and let them evaporate, or, more effectively, burn some camphor in the room. Close all doors and windows and leave it burning for about 20 minutes. You’ll have to be outside the room, but you can supervise from a window.

Coffee grounds

Simply burn some coffee grounds in a coffee tray or egg carton, and trust the smoke to repel these pests. Do this carefully in an area where it won’t cause damage or set off a fire alarm.

Sage and rosemary

Burning sage and rosemary may smell delightful and soothing to you, but mosquitoes hate the scent and will steer clear.

Basil

Basil is a multi-use mosquito repellent. You can place a plant on your windowsill to keep mosquitoes at bay, or even use it as a topical oil and apply it to your skin.

Lemon balm

Applying lemon balm directly to the skin, especially on sensitive areas like ankles and wrists, has been shown to be effective against mosquitoes. Simply crush it up and rub it on your skin.

Listerine

Listerine mouth wash may sound like a random mosquito repellent, but it contains eucalyptus oil and can help repel mosquitoes.

Bug zappers

Though bug zappers can kill mosquitoes on contact, this method can get tiring if done over and over. Also, be mindful not to zap harmless insects.

close-up of a mosquito Adobe

The Best Way to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

Now that you know how to get rid of mosquitoes in your home, here are a few ways to keep these pests out of your yard.

Apply chemical repellents

Applying a chemical insect repellent designed for the outdoors is a solid way to get rid of mosquitoes. Repellents like Off! Bug Control Backyard Pretreat can protect the perimeters of lawns, backyards, and gardens for up to eight weeks. You can also spray a traditional, safe repellent on your skin.

Picaridin, a synthesized pepper plant ingredient, is another option which lasts for up to 14 hours. Permethrin is an active ingredient in chemical repellents that should never be used on skin, but can be incredibly handy if applied to camping gear, clothing, and shoes. Unlike DEET, which only repels mosquitoes, products with permethrin will kill mosquitoes on contact. Unfortunately, it can irritate skin and kill beneficial insects like bees.

Set a mosquito trap

Mosquito traps are a handy way to control your mosquito population. These traps trick mosquitoes into flying into them by emulating the visual and smell stimuli that attract mosquitoes to humans.

There are many varieties of mosquito traps out there. Some work by trapping mosquitoes to a sticky surface, while others electrocute them with an electric grid. The Mosquito Magnet is one of the most popular traps—it works by vacuuming mosquitoes up.

For this method, place your traps in a shady area. You may have to move them around to find the optimal placement for ensnaring mosquitoes. It’s worth noting that different species of mosquitoes react differently to traps, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy.

Consider a bug zapper

Zappers work by electrocuting mosquitoes. This method can help you fry a few of these annoying insects, but overall, it’s inefficient and comes with its risk—you may end up killing beneficial and harmless bugs.

Eliminate standing water

Adult mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, and that’s where their larvae hatch. Empty all stagnant bodies of water you can, like any water that’s pooled in buckets, gutters, ditches, and pet bowls. Make sure to refresh the water in any bird baths and check to see if your potted plants have enough drainage.

Treat pools and ponds

For standing water that you can’t eliminate, apply a larvicide dunk or liquid larvicide and run the filter regularly. To prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in your pool, be sure to cover the pool at night and during the months when you aren’t using it.

BTI, a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil, produces toxins that target and kill mosquito larvae. You can spray it over ponds, flower pots, and bird baths, and it’s non-toxic to humans.

Burn candles

Citronella candles are a long-time fan favorite for repelling mosquitoes. You can buy sizable ones to place around your yard and ensure mosquitoes will keep their distance.

Set out Thermacell

These handy devices are spray-free, emitting a no-mess repellent in a compact container. Completely scent-free, these easy-to-use containers are easy to refill and provide up to 15 feet of protection.

Buy an oscillating fan

This follows the same principle as an indoor fan, but you probably have room for a larger, higher-power fan in your yard than in your living room.

Keep your yard trim and tidy

Mosquitoes like to rest and settle in areas that are cool, damp, and dark. Manicure your lawn, trim trees and shrubs, and make sure your grass isn’t getting too tall. This will make your yard less hospitable to mosquitoes.

Plant natural deterrents

Repelling mosquitoes doesn’t have to be just practical—it can be pretty, too. Planting natural deterrents can spruce up your garden while keeping these prevalent pests away. Consider planting the following flora to keep mosquitoes away:

  • Tulsi
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Citronella
  • Catnip
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Pennyroyal
  • Geraniums
  • Sage

Put down cedar mulch

Cedar oil is a common mosquito repellent ingredient and cedar mulch soaks up excess moisture, keeping it in the soil and deterring mosquitoes from settling in your vegetation.

Attract natural predators

Predators can’t completely eradicate your issue if you’re overrun with mosquitoes, but if you’re just getting a few unwanted critters here and there, attracting them is worth a shot.

Many birds are natural mosquito predators, including purple martins, waterfowl, swallows, and migratory songbirds. Setting up bird feeders is a solid step in attracting these birds. Installing a bat house can also help. Bats eat up mosquitoes, but you may not want to attract bats near your home.

If you have a pond, you can benefit from predators like goldfish, koi, and red-eared slider turtles.

Mosquitoes also fall prey to other insects—some you’d be happy to see in your garden and others, not so much. Spiders eat mosquitoes when they fly into their webs and dragonflies gobble mosquitoes right up.

Use yellow LED lighting

Mosquitoes are attracted to the light from traditional light bulbs. Warm, yellow LED lights are less appealing to them, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professional Mosquito Control

While you may find some measure of success with DIY methods, if you’re dealing with tons of mosquitoes, you need to call in a professional pest control company. Professional pest control companies have the expertise to kill mosquitoes at all stages of the life cycle and are more knowledgeable about safety practices when applying chemicals.

Here are our top recommendations for professional mosquito control.

Terminix

Terminix’s mosquito solution promises to kill mosquitoes with a fast-acting, specialized treatment. Its polymer layer protects the product’s active ingredient against weather and lawn watering, allowing weeks-long mosquito prevention.

First, Terminix inspects your yard for mosquitoes. Then, the technician will create a treatment plan that involves a protection zone. Terminix offers a one-time application and monthly treatment.

If you'd like to get a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form.

Orkin

This trusted pest control company follows a targeted mosquito control process that involves monthly treating and added protection against mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile and Zika.

After completing a thorough inspection, your Orkin specialist will create a specific treatment plan.

Orkin uses three primary treatment controls—microbial insects that inhibit breeding in water, insecticides applied to plants that adult mosquitoes use for shelter, and insect growth regulators that prevent the development of mosquitoes in stagnant bodies of water.

To get a free quote from Orkin, call 877-868-1416 or fill out this simple form.

Rentokil

Rentokil prevents mosquitoes by providing treatments of fast-acting, odor-free products that double as tick protection. The pest control company creates a barrier that kills adult mosquitoes when they land on it.

If you're interested in a free quote, call 844-334-1157.

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