Mosquitoes have a bad reputation and are hated by many for their endless whining and itchy bites. The pesky insects can turn a fun outdoor activity sour or even give you sleepless nights if they manage to enter your home. They are also known to transmit lots of diseases, including fatal ones like malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, dengue, and elephantiasis, among others. Without a doubt, mosquitoes are the worst kind of pests to have around, but they do play an important role in the ecosystem. Without them, the process of pollination would be disrupted, and several species of plants would be eradicated.
Mosquitoes are usually active in the evenings and are common wherever moisture collects. If you have potted plants, rain gutters, buckets or any puddles in your yard due to poor drainage, you are likely to have a mosquito problem. This guide has in depth information on how to get rid of mosquitoes, and savor the warm days of summer and fun, cool nights in the outdoors.
Correct identification of any pest is crucial before proceeding with an extermination plan. You can waste so much time and money if you misidentify the pest as you would be using the wrong treatment methods and products.
According to an article by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mosquitoes grow to an average size of 5 to 6 mm long and their bodies have the same structure. They have six, long and thin legs, a pair of wings and three body parts; the head, abdomen, and thorax. On their heads, they have proboscis, an organ that looks like a straw, through which they inject saliva into their victim’s body before feeding with the small serrated end. You never feel a mosquito bite until after it’s done because its saliva has a mild painkiller and anti-coagulant.
Like most other insects, the mosquito life cycle is divided into four stages, i.e., the egg, larva, pupa, and adult stage. Of course, the adult stage is responsible for all the bites and the annoying sounds near your ears as you sleep. However, if you get rid of the mosquitoes before they reach the adult stage, you have nothing to worry about.
Starting off the mosquito life cycle is the egg stage, with the number of eggs varying according to the species. One of the more common mosquitoes in the U.S., the anopheles mosquito, can lay up to 200 eggs. That said, they do need a blood meal to make that happen hence the painful or itchy bites on your legs and other exposed parts of your skin. On the other hand, the Maryland Department of Agriculture notes that Asian Tiger mosquitoes can lay up to 150 eggs at a time.
Egg laying habits also differ, although they all need water to hatch. The Anopheles mosquito eggs need water almost immediately and will die out otherwise. Conversely, Aedes/yellow fever mosquito eggs can last up to several months dormant but will only hatch once they’ve been in contact with water for a while.
Anopheles mosquitoes typically lay eggs directly onto a water surface. As for the Aedes mosquito, the CDC notes that they lay eggs inside containers with water. However, instead of on the water surface, they lay them above the water line, with these eggs capable of surviving winter without hatching.
Past the egg stage, they go into the larva stage, which seems like tiny worms in the water. At this stage they need to feed with their preferred meal options being algae, bacteria, protozoa, and other micro-organisms. You can also see them moving hence the name “wrigglers.”
These larvae can dive deeper into the water when alarmed, although they typically need to stay near the water surface to breathe. As they feed, they’ll grow out of their exoskeleton and form a new one before eventually moving on to the pupal stage. The larva stage can last 4 to 14 days depending on factors like food availability, water temperature, species, etc.
At the pupal stage, these critters stop feeding, although they still need to be in the water. They might not move about as much as the larvae. However, they can “tumble” out of the way if necessary, especially when responding to environmental light changes. This stage can last up to four days, with the adult mosquito emerging shortly after.
It’s worth noting that besides being a nuisance, the males of most mosquito species are harmless. They feed on nectar and do not need blood. It’s the females that require blood for reproduction. However, you may still find males buzzing around your ears mostly because they’re waiting for a female to mate with.
Mosquitoes are found in every corner of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the continental U.S. and its territories has over 200 mosquito species. Of these 200, at least 12 transmit disease-causing germs. The others are just nuisance mosquitoes. The anopheles, Culex, and Aedes mosquitoes are the most common mosquitoes worldwide.
Anopheles mosquitoes are popularly known for transmitting malaria. They originate from Africa but have been able to migrate to other parts of the world including colder regions like Midwestern U.S. and Canada. The mosquitoes have a dark brown to black appearance with long wings that reach up to 4.4 mm.
Besides malaria, anopheles mosquitoes can transmit elephantiasis to humans. They are highly prevalent in the rainy seasons because, just like other mosquito species, they lay eggs on stagnant water surfaces. The mosquitoes’ two weeks life cycle begins when the female lays about 50 to 200 eggs.
Culex mosquitoes are more common in tropical regions as they cannot survive in freezing temperatures. They are found in the Southern U.S. and only migrate to the northern region during summer. They have a light brown appearance with darker thorax, wings, and proboscis. Culex adults grow up to 4 mm in length.
Like most species, the Culex mosquitoes are more active at night and lay eggs in stagnant water. The female culex mosquito lays eggs one at a time on the surface of fresh stagnant water. The eggs stick together to form a raft of about 100 to 300eggs, which remains floating on the water’s surface.
Just like the anopheles mosquitoes, Aedes mosquitoes originated from Africa. They have spread out across the world and are common in the Southern U.S. and along the East Coast, all the way to New York. It stands out from other species with a large body that grows up to 10 mm and characteristic white eyes. Its entire body has black and white stripes. The Aedes mosquito is the primary vector of the yellow fever disease. It also transmits dengue fever and encephalitis.
Unlike other species, Aedes mosquitoes tend to bite during the day more. They lay eggs on water collected in objects, planters, and old tires.
All adults of different mosquito species love stagnant water because it is where the females lay eggs and the larvae mature into adults.
The most common mosquito locations are areas with standing water, like puddles, ditches, ponds, and slow-moving streams. Water collected in potted plants, areas of poor drainage, and garden beds are also great breeding spots for mosquitoes.
Inside the home, mosquitoes are more prevalent in the bedrooms at night and bathrooms or kitchen during the day. You can use a mosquito net to keep the mosquitoes out.
Depending on the region, mosquitoes may be active all year round or only be active for a couple of months. According to the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project, they can’t regulate their temperature, so they depend on ambient temperature for optimal body function. They function best at about 80°F and cannot function below 50 °F. Consequently, you’re not likely to see them in winter.
Some species find spots like hollow logs and animal burrows to hibernate. Others like the Aedes mosquito mentioned above can survive easily through winter as eggs before hatching once the weather gets warmer.
The Smithsonian Magazine also notes that mosquitoes are nocturnal. Consequently, your house may look seemingly mosquito-free throughout the day, only for you to turn on the lights at midnight to find a swarm next to your bedside lamp. They also don’t like too much heat; hence they spend most days hiding under a cool shade.
Mosquitoes are dangerous because they are vectors of many diseases. About 30 to 40 species of the genus Anopheles can transmit malaria, a severe and sometimes fatal disease with flu-like symptoms. The female anopheles takes blood meals from humans and other warm-blooded, backbones mammals for protein supplement for their egg production.
Another deadly disease transmitted by mosquitoes is Zika. The Zika virus causes birth defects in fetuses and rare cases of paralysis in children and adults. The virus is transmitted by the Northern house mosquito or the Eastern Treehole mosquito.
Other serious illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes include:
As vectors, female mosquitoes can’t infect you with a disease if it’s their first time feeding. Depending on the species, they get germs and illnesses from people or animals they’ve bitten in the past.
Anopheles mosquitoes, for instance, support the growth of malaria parasites in their body. Consequently, if they bite someone with malaria, it’ll take about 2-3 weeks for the parasites to multiply in the mosquito’s body enough to migrate to its saliva glands. After that, the next time the pest bites someone, it transmits the same parasites and causes an illness.
If a person with malaria was bitten by an Aedes mosquito, the malaria parasites would die without being transmitted. However, the Aedes mosquito also supports the growth and spread of the yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and zika viruses.
Once you have established that you have a mosquito infestation in your home, it is time to begin treatment. There are myriad approaches to reducing mosquito populations in the home. Here are the top most effective ones:
Mosquitoes, like most insects, are attracted to light. UV light traps use the simple technique to draw in mosquitoes and trap them permanently on a glue board or any other sticky material. They are not the best indoor mosquito killers but they can reduce the infestation in your home significantly.
These are combination mosquito traps that use both UV light and suction to pull in the mosquito. Once in the chamber, the mosquito remains stuck to a small piece of sticky cardboard.
An electric fly swatter kills mosquitoes and other insects by electrocution. Most devices have electrical cords with 3000 volts and produce an electric shock that can easily kill all kinds of small insects.
Bug zappers kill mosquitoes instantly once they get close enough. They use a UV light to attract the mosquitoes, and if they get close enough and touch the electrical element, they get zapped with a low voltage just enough to kill it. The American Mosquito Control Association disqualifies bug zappers as an effective control measure against a large mosquito infestation. What’s more, bug zappers may have a negative impact on the environment as they kill myriad other insects.
Some candles have fragrances that are off-putting to mosquitoes, like citronella, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. Lighting them would repel the mosquitoes in your home. Ensure the candles are meant for indoor use before you light them.
Mosquitoes like calm, humid air. A ceiling fan or floor fan will help deter them from landing on you. A floor fan is a more versatile option as you can use it indoors or outdoors.
Mosquitoes thrive in warmth and humidity. Cooling the inside of your home will help manage the mosquito infestation. Invest in an air conditioner. You could start with a simple window AC if you don’t have one already. If you have an evaporative cooler, replace it with a central air conditioning system.
Mosquitoes will not leave your house if they find standing water. A wet bathroom or the constant drip under your kitchen sink could be what a mating mosquito pair need to reproduce. Fix all of the plumbing leaks in your house and ensure your kitchen and bathroom remain dry after use.
Mosquitoes will enter your house via a torn window or door screen. Repair and replace all of them to keep mosquitoes out.
If you leave your doors and windows open, mosquitoes will enter your home and they may never leave as your home offers the ultimate survival conditions. They wouldn’t feel threatened by predators inside your home and can successfully breed in your bathroom or kitchen.
After ridding your house of mosquitoes, you better extend the same efforts outdoors, especially if you love to relax in the outdoors on warm summer evenings. Here are some things you can do to get rid of mosquitoes outside:
Tall weeds are a good hiding and breeding spot for mosquitoes. The less vegetation around your home, the better. Cut all the tall grass and weeds around your home to limit mosquito breeding grounds.
Standing water is the main reason why mosquitoes would invade your home. Limiting stagnant water traps around your home is one of the primary mosquito control measures.
To get rid of standing water:
-Clean all of your gutters to prevent the formation of water traps that could attract mosquitoes.
-Empty your swimming pool whenever it is not in use.
-Pick up and store all the items that could collect water and attract mosquitoes, like old tires and containers.
-You can also prevent the formation of puddles in your home by filling up holes and depressions that can collect water.
This is easier said than done if you have a pond around your home. However, there are several measures you could take as well. For instance, introducing aerators is not a bad idea. They might not drain the water, but they’ll introduce motion on the surface and prevent species like the anopheles mosquito from laying eggs.
Furthermore, you could introduce wildlife like fish and frogs that eat mosquitoes. These will feed on the adult mosquitoes on the surface and the eggs, larvae, and pupae in the water.
Poor drainage leads to water puddles which could attract mosquitoes. Invest in top quality French drain to redirect water away from your house. According to Mississippi State University Extension allows water to drain slowly and naturally away from the home. It features a perforated pipe with small holes that run along its entire length.
Broadcast treatments are mosquito killers that you can apply on your yard to get rid of mosquitoes. You can use a garden sprayer to apply the chemical treatments around the house and entryways. Pyrethroid sprays are more suitable for all the shady areas and all the areas near your doors and windows.
For your wood and brick surfaces, use sprays like lambda-cyhalothrin and cyfluthrin. You have to keep re-applying the sprays to reduce the mosquito population in your home. if you live in an extremely marshy and dense environment, use electric and propane mosquito foggers.
Another solid alternative would be hose sprays with pyrethroid insecticides. You can use them to spray the shady areas in your home where mosquitoes are likely to hide during the day.
Do not use any broadcast treatment inside the house. Also, put on protective gear when applying the treatment and stay away from all the treated areas for your safety.
Bacterial treatments can help control mosquito population by targeting the larval stage of mosquitoes. BTi is the most common microbial larvicide. It is a toxic bacterial substance that occurs naturally in some soils. Over 40 products contain this EPA-approved microbial pesticide that has been proven to kill mosquito larvae in less than 24 hours.
BTi comes in solid wafers or pellets and is safe for humans and animals. It wouldn’t affect fish or other aquatic animals. You can drop a certain amount in birdbaths, ponds, swimming pools, or rain barrels to reduce mosquito larvae.
Mosquito dunks are another great solution to getting rid of mosquito larvae. The chemical treatments come in brick or doughnut shapes and are highly effective in eliminating mosquito larvae in stagnant water. They are also non-toxic to humans and aquatic animals thus can be used in ponds with fish. Mosquito dusk remains effective for up to a month or two before the need to re-apply.
You can add an insect growth regulator to your regular insecticide for long-term mosquito control. A high-quality insect growth regulator will disrupt mosquitoes’ life cycle, thus slowing down their population growth.
This is one of the latest innovations in the mosquito control industry. A carbon dioxide trap uses a catalytic convert to change propane into carbon dioxide. Depending on the model, the traps use UV light, heat, or Octenol as attractants. Most carbon dioxide traps can cover areas as large as an acre.
The popular Spartan mosquito eradicators also lure mosquitoes with carbon dioxide and heat. The mosquitoes crawl into the tubes, drink the salt and carbon dioxide solution, crawl back out and then die after their guts rupture.
Outdoor UV light traps work the same way as indoor traps. They use UV light to attract mosquitoes and other insects. Once inside, the mosquitoes get stuck to a glue board permanently. You can hang them on the porch or anywhere on the balcony to draw all the mosquitoes away from your outdoor social gathering.
Propane Mosquito Traps use clean-burning propane, which undergoes catalytic combustion system to create warm carbon dioxide and moisture to mimic a human or animal. The carbon dioxide and moisture attract the mosquitoes to the trap. Once the mosquitoes enter the trap, they can’t leave. Depending on the features of the trap, the mosquitoes either get sucked in through a vacuum, or they get trapped on a sticky surface. Propane mosquito traps help control the mosquito population by killing fertilized females about to lay hundreds of eggs.
As mentioned before, bug zappers are not highly effective at controlling mosquito populations but can help drive them away, especially if you are at an outdoor social gathering. You can choose an ideal model and size for your yard. The only downside of bug zappers is that they are noisy and challenging to clean.
The market is flooded with chemical mosquito repellents. DEET and picaridin are approved by EPA to offer the best protection against mosquitoes. The use of DEET has been controversial for a while, especially among children. EPA maintains that the normal use of DEET insect repellent does not present a health concern to the general population.
Certain plants can keep mosquitoes away with their natural fragrance. The plants are a fantastic natural alternative to dousing your garden in mosquito killer sprays. Some of the mosquito repelling plants you can grow include; lavender, citronella grass, marigold, rosemary, catmint, bee balm, basil, and mint. The best thing about most of these plants is they will add a beautiful fragrance to your garden. Some like mint and rosemary you can use for other purposes like food and beverage preparation.
If chemical bug sprays are not your thing, you can opt for products that do not contain any harmful chemicals. You can crush herbs and place them around the house and garden to repel mosquitoes. You could also get natural mosquito repellent products or DIY something that can keep mosquitoes at bay.
– Essential Oils
Many essential oils have been proven to repel mosquitoes. Lavender and citronella are reputed to be highly effective at keeping mosquitoes at bay. You can apply either of the oils on your skin or on outdoor sitting areas and windowsills to repel the mosquitoes. Citronella candles are made with citronella oil and are famous for repelling mosquitoes.
– Coconut Oil
Coconut oil combined with neem oil can repel mosquitoes for up to 12 hours. Mix one part coconut oil with one part neem oil, then place in a container with a tight seal. You can use the oil mixture as a daily moisturizer as its scent isn’t too strong or unpleasant like a chemical bug repellent.
– Apple Cider Vinegar
Street legend has it that drinking lots of apple cider vinegar makes you less appealing to mosquitoes. There isn’t any scientific evidence to back up the claims, but apple cider vinegar eases the itch of a mosquito bite. You can mix it with essential oils like citronella in a spray bottle then apply on your skin to repel mosquitoes.
– Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a common herb in most gardens for all the right reasons. It contains citronella and smells awful to humans but highly effective in repelling mosquitoes. It will do a great job warding off mosquitoes in your garden, but you can rub it on your skin, especially the areas mosquitoes love to bite, like the ankles and arms, for personal protection.
– Epsom Salt
Epsom salt, combined with beer and Listerine mouthwash, is one of the most effective DIY mosquito repellents that has been studied and shown to be effective. The combination sounds strange, but it works pretty well.
– Dryer Sheet
Many gardeners know the trick of placing a dryer sheet in the pocket to repel mosquitoes. Although dryer sheets have been proven to work well against gnats, there isn’t any scientific evidence that it works to repel mosquitoes as well.
– Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds can repel mosquitoes from water, preventing the female adults from laying eggs. If you add coffee grounds to any stagnant water around your home, it turns into a liquid similar to the coffee in your cup. Mosquitoes love to lay eggs in clear water. They will realize the environment does not suit their preferences anymore and leave.
Just like apple cider vinegar, consuming garlic makes you less pleasant to mosquitoes. The only difference is that there is scientific evidence to back up the claims that anyone who consumes garlic in high quantities is less likely to be bitten. Many commercial mosquito treatments also use garlic as a main ingredient because of its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes.
Mosquito nets are a must-have for places with high mosquito prevalence, like the tropics. Mosquito nets are highly effective at keeping out mosquitoes. If you want to enjoy being outdoors on your porch and repellents are not an option for you, get a mosquito net and hang it. You can also buy a pavilion or tent with netting to have a good time outdoors free of mosquitoes and other insects.
Protecting your own skin from mosquitoes is another effective mosquito control measure. You can apply chemical or natural repellents to keep mosquitoes and the dreadful diseases they carry away. We have listed some of the natural mosquito repellents you can easily buy from a store near you to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Alternatively, you could just fight fire with fire. Bats are one of the mosquitoes’ natural predators. Therefore, having them around could whittle down the mosquito population. You’d, however, need to build or buy them wooden houses. These need to be at least 24” high and 16” wide as smaller ones don’t offer enough thermal stability.
Furthermore, fabric or mesh is not recommended, and the landing pads should be made of roughened wood. The same is true for the roosting boards. Unfortunately, the birds that eat the most mosquitoes are migratory, including yellow warblers and chirping sparrows. Therefore, even if they come to your yard, they might not be there for long.
According to an article by BBC, ultrasonic repellents are not effective in controlling mosquito populations.
There is no scientific evidence that ultrasonic technology employed in mosquito repelling devices can keep mosquitoes away.
The devices work by producing sounds that are above the frequency that humans can hear. Animals and insects cannot withstand such high frequencies. The thing is, mosquitoes do not depend on hearing to hone in on their prey. Plus, no one is sure if mosquitoes can actually hear ultrasonic frequencies.
Fuel-powered mosquito repellent devices create a mosquito protection zone of up to 15 ft. to repel mosquitoes. They utilize a technology that uses heat activated repellent to create a scentless, invisible zone of protection. They feature a small fuel cartridge that provides the heat. The heat disperses the repellent into the air. The repellent re-fills are replaceable.
Electronic mosquito repellent devices employ the same technique as their fuel-powered counterparts except they use electricity to generate the heat. Most devices are both electronic and fuel-powered for easy portability and convenience.
If the mosquito infestation in your home gets out of hand, or you try all the DIY suggestions on this guide, and it doesn’t get better, call a pest control professional. A pest control expert will come up with a treatment plan that suits your needs by considering all variables.
Although pricier than all the DIY options suggested in this guide, a pest control expert will give you top value for money because their control measures are bound to work. They also reduce the risk of using the wrong chemicals and exposing yourself and your loved ones to toxic amounts.
Most mosquitoes actually don’t eat people at all. In fact, the males of most species don’t feed on blood at all. They survive on plant nectar and other sources of sugar. It’s only the female mosquitoes that require a blood meal for their survival. Different species of mosquitoes have different diets. Some species of female mosquitoes will only feed on the blood of mammals, while others will also feed on the blood of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. In general, though, most species of female mosquitoes will feed on the blood of any warm-blooded animal they can find, including people.
Pets, including dogs, cats, and horses, are also susceptible to diseases carried by mosquitoes. A prime example is the fatal heartworm in dogs. When protecting yourself from mosquitoes, remember your pets are not immune to mosquito bites. Do not assume that what works for you, like DEET will work for your pet. Some treatments like DEET work differently on animals’ nervous systems. Also, some treatments may work only for specific animals. A good example is the K9 Advantix II which is a perfect repellent for dogs but toxic to cats. Consult a veterinarian for a suitable mosquito treatment for your pet.
Many insect repellents are not meant for kids under three years. You can try natural remedies to protect your baby from mosquito bites.
Invest in a high-quality mosquito net to protect your small child from mosquitoes while they sleep. Buy one that is large enough to go over their crib or stroller. You can also set up one like a tent to protect them when playing on the floor.
Keeping your baby indoors at dawn and at dusk will also help reduce their exposure to mosquitoes when they are most active.
Make it a habit to cover your baby during the warm seasons when mosquitoes are highly prevalent. You may be tempted to remove all of their clothes because of the high temperatures but you would expose them to mosquito bites. You can get lighter clothing that covers their whole body.
Use baby lotion with mosquito repelling scents like lavender and citronella instead of regular baby lotion.
Mosquito foggers feature special fogging concentrates that produce fog for killing mosquitoes. The fog usually contains small droplets of an insecticide solution, about 50 microns in diameter or less. You cannot see the droplets with your eyes but they remain suspended in the air until they evaporate. In essence, mosquito foggers work to ward off mosquitoes from the area they have been sprayed.
There are two primary types of mosquito foggers; thermal foggers and cold foggers. With thermal foggers, the fog is created with eat sources like propane while cold foggers, also known as ULV use cold temperatures to create the fog. Cold foggers are best suited for indoor mosquito control and smaller spaces. Thermal foggers are suitable for controlling large infestations spanning a large area.
A mosquito magnet is a device that uses CO2, heat, and light to attract mosquitoes. The idea behind it is that the mosquitoes will be lured to the device and then trapped inside. While mosquito magnets can be effective at trapping and killing mosquitoes, they are not 100% effective. There are a number of factors that can affect how well a mosquito magnet works, including the type of mosquito, the size of the area being treated, and the weather. If you’re considering using a mosquito magnet, it’s important to do your research to make sure it will be effective for your particular situation.
According to an article by Medical News Today, only female mosquitoes bite to get proteins they need for egg production. The bites result in itchy and uncomfortable bumps. You get the itch because the mosquito leaves a small amount of saliva behind and your immune system responds by triggering inflammation in the area. Fortunately, there are multiple ways of relieving the itchy and uncomfortable mosquito bites. Here are some home remedies you can try:
Apply an ice pack to the affected area immediately, to ease the swelling. Cold temperatures slow the rate of inflammation. Do not put the ice directly on your skin. Wrap it up in a towel or cloth first.
Histamine is the chemical that your body releases as an inflammatory response to the mosquito bite. An antihistamine would prevent histamine from taking effect. You can take it in pill or topical cream form.
Hydrocortisone is a topical medication that reduces itching and inflammation. It is readily available over the counter and on prescription. Children, pregnant women, and anyone with underlying skin conditions should not use hydrocortisone without consulting a doctor.
Studies show that aloe vera may have anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. Applying aloe vera gel on a mosquito bite can help soothe and heal the area.
Applying honey to the affected area will soothe, reduce the inflammation and protect it from infections. Honey is known to have wound healing properties.
If there are any complications from a mosquito bite like mosquito borne diseases or an infection, see a healthcare provider immediately. Also, avoid scratching the bites as itchy as they may be to prevent infections.