Pest Busters Series


For me, mosquitoes are about the biggest garden pest I have. Not only do they bother me when I'm trying to get things done in the garden, but they bother me when I'm just sitting and trying to enjoy the garden. They may not harm the plants in the garden, but they can do more harm to myself and my family, and for that reason they are number one of my list of garden pests that need to be busted.

If you have been following my website and blog for any amount of time, you will know that I garden organically about 99% percent of the time. And I extend that philosophy when it comes to controlling mosquitoes as well.

I'm not real excited to have to use bug sprays that contain deet, but they do seem to work the best, but I also thought it would be wise to research some of the other alternatives to controlling and repelling mosquitoes. In this article, I will go into some of those methods.

Mosquitoes can spread diseases like EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) and the West Nile Virus, so it's important to protect yourself first and foremost.

Protect, Repel, Prevent

  • Avoid working in the yard at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • If you have to be outdoors during these times, wear long sleeves and long pants in addition to covering yourself with bug spray. Spraying your clothes with the repellent may offer you some protection from the possible side effects of deet, rather than spraying your skin directly.
  • Avoid working in shady gardens after a recent rain when mosquito activity is higher.
  • For maximum protection, use a bug spray that contains deet, but you may also want to try these alternative methods. I find using more than one type of alternative method at a time offers more protection that just using one:
  • If you are going to be confined to a small area in the yard, try setting up a couple of oscillating fans set to medium-high speed. Mosquitoes have trouble flying during windy conditions.
  • Set up citronella candles and torches in the yard where you will be congregating. I've found they work very well when there is a slight breeze either from the wind or by a fan.
  • Use an insect repellent that contains lemon and eucalyptus which has been shown to be very effective in repelling mosquitoes without the use of deet.
  • Make your own repellent by mixing several drops of essential oil of eucalyptus with almond or jojoba oil, then rub on exposed skin. Alternatively you can use lemon balm oil in place of or in addition to the eucalyptus oil.
  • Rub your skin with fabric softener sheets and pin a couple to your clothes when you are outside. The strong scent is thought to confuse their senses.
  • Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by removing all standing water from your yard. If you have birdbaths, change the water every couple of days or use a small fountain in the the bath to keep the water moving at all times.
  • Keep your yard well mowed and plants spaced appropriately apart with weeds kept to a minimum to remove their hiding places.
  • The following plants have been known to help repel mosquitoes. Try planting them around the perimeter of your sitting areas in the yard: lime basil, lantana, rose-scented monarda, catnip, lavender, thyme and marigolds. Read more about repelling mosquitoes with plants here.
  • If you have a pond in your yard, stock the pond with goldfish and/or minnows that will eat mosquito larvae.
  • If you have a rain barrel, make sure it has a cover and that the opening to allow water into the barrel is covered with window screen. If it doesn't have a cover, try adding a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. It will float on top of the water and mosquitoes will not want to get near it.

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