Manage mosquitoes to better enjoy your outdoor space | News, Sports, Jobs

Scatter citronella oil and candles in outdoor entertaining areas and within a few feet of guests for short-term mosquito relief. Photo by,

Dine, play and enjoy your outdoor spaces more than ever this year by controlling annoying mosquitoes and disease vectors. Use a multi-faceted approach to increase your pleasure and help keep mosquitoes away.

Plan your outdoor activities when mosquitoes are less active. Females are the ones looking for a blood meal and are most active at dusk and dawn when looking for heat and food.

Screened porches add a layer of protection, but only when intact and properly sealed. The same applies to your home. Check screens and seals around doors and windows to prevent these pests from entering your home.

Use bug lights in light fixtures near entrances and in outdoor entertaining areas. These emit a yellow light which is not as attractive to mosquitoes and other insects. Insect killer lights will not eliminate all unwanted insects, but will reduce the number of people visiting your lights at night and entering your home.

Improve the ambience and reduce mosquito problems when entertaining outdoors. Use a fan to create a cooler space and keep those weak flyers away. Provide subtle, fragrant lighting with citronella oil and scented candles. Scatter them throughout the area and a few feet away from guests for short-term relief.

Reduce the overall mosquito population in your garden by eliminating their breeding grounds. Empty the water that accumulates in the objects left outside. Change your birdbath water at least once a week or whenever you water your vegetable gardens. Add a bubbler or pump to keep water moving in fountains and ponds so mosquito larvae cannot survive.

Mix a biological mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits ( into your rain barrel, pond or other water feature. Mosquito Bits bring down the mosquito larvae population quickly, while Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. The active ingredient is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for children, fish, pets, beneficial insects and wildlife.

Keep your landscape looking its best by managing weeds and tending neglected gardens. This eliminates some of the resting places for hungry adult mosquitoes.

Always protect yourself outdoors. Cover your skin as much as possible with loose, light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are less attracted to light colors and cannot easily reach your skin through loose clothing.

Protect yourself further by using an EPA-approved personal repellent. For those looking for DEET-free options, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has approved products containing the active ingredient picaridin, IR3535, and synthetic oil of lemon and eucalyptus. Check the label for a list of active ingredients and safety recommendations when buying mosquito repellents. Avoid products that contain both sunscreen and insect repellent, as you need to apply sunscreen more often than repellent.

Spending more time outdoors is good for our mind, body, and spirit. Using a combination of mosquito management tactics will allow you to enjoy and benefit from your time outdoors.

Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She animates Les Grands Parcours “How to Grow Anything” Nationally broadcast Melinda’s Garden Moment DVD series and television and radio show. Myers is a columnist and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is

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