There are two things that qualify to be the bane of summer: flies and mosquitos. Entertaining outdoors seems to triple the pests and their ability to irritate and annoy guests.
Luckily, we found some simple tricks to keep mosquitos at a distance while you enjoy friends and family in your outdoor living space.
Use a fan
Fortunate is the homeowner who has an overhead fan on the patio. “The breeze outdoor fans provide makes it more difficult for these annoying critters [mosquitos and flies] to fly, so they tend to stay away from wherever the fan air flows,” according to the pros at lasco.com.
An oscillating fan or two is the ideal solution because they spread the breeze out more than a stationary fan.
The folks at Lasco also recommend that you consider a fan with a misting apparatus “… for an extra cooling effect.”
If you’ll be buying a floor fan for your next get-together, keep these tips in mind:
- Look for one with remote control.
- Large controls that make it easier to see in low-light conditions come in handy in the evening.
- Ask to plug in and operate the model you’re interested in to make sure it’s quiet enough at high speed to hold a conversation.
- Ensure that the fan is intended for outdoor use, with grounded plugs and cords and moisture-proof casings.
Get rid of sources of standing water
One of the most common sources of mosquitos is anything that collects rain or irrigation water. This includes:
- Kiddie Pools (keep the water fresh)
- Planting pots and saucers
- Watering Cans
- Open trash cans
- Puddles in your lawn
- Rain Barrels
- Kid’s Toys
- Birdbaths (keep the water fresh)
Seek out even the smallest sources of standing water. All it takes is 1/4 inch of water for a mosquito to “… lay hundreds of eggs at a time—so even very small sources can become a big problem,” according to the experts at the Vector Control Program of San Diego.
Get more tips on how to deal with standing water in your backyard by visiting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website.
Set up a defensive perimeter
The folks at the Today Show suggest that you surround the backyard with “… tiki torches with citronella or other insect repellent oil to combat insects.”
In reality, there are no studies that prove citronella’s effectiveness against mosquitos. The CDC, however, suggests that oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is a good alternative.
NOTE: The Mississippi Department of Health says that “Oil of lemon eucalyptus and lemon eucalyptus oil are not the same product.”
Cover your food and drinks
Backyard barbecues are a beacon for lots of flying insects, such as flies and wasps. Cover all food dishes and drinks to keep them at a distance.
Martha Stewart offers up a tip for covering drinks:
- Use a hole punch to punch a hole in the bottom of paper cupcake holders.
- Turn the cupcake holders upside down and place them over the drinks, sticking straws through the punched hole.
Avoid mosquito myths
You’ll find plenty of mosquito repellent myths online. Avoid the bad and misleading information by typing “site:.edu” or “site:.gov” (without the quotation marks) after your search term. For instance:
“How to deter mosquitos site:.edu”
Here are a two of the most popular myths you’ll find online:
- Mosquitos dislike geraniums or essential oils derived from geraniums (National Institutes of Health). Geraniums and pelargoniums have no effect on mosquitos.
- Citronella candles and other products deter mosquitos. The truth is “Oil of citronella products … have little effectiveness against mosquitoes.” (Mississippi State Department of Health)
Most of the plant-based repellents suggested for mosquito control are not the plants themselves, but the distilled essences.
For more information on finding the right mosquito repellents, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s database.