Sadly, my kids got my genetic tastiness to bugs, except they also got their dad’s high body temperature and like to run all over the place. We live in Alaska, where mosquitoes are the size of some state’s birds and are not in short supply. Those four factors combined mean my kids currently have so many bug bites they look like they have chicken pox. We’ve tried bug spray repellents, and they seem to not help one tiny bit. In my mind, that means it’s time to get creative and find new ways to get rid of mosquitoes.
Clearing the air
I wanted to get rid of mosquitoes without doing harm to the environment, so no method listed here involves harmful chemicals like foggers.
-Eliminate breeding sources. If possible, you should reduce any source of standing water in your area. Granted you shouldn’t go trying to drain lakes or anything, but things like next seasons tires filled with water should be dumped and stored where they can’t collect water to provide breeding sites.
Keeping your grass trim will also help. While I don’t have a lake near me, in areas where mosquitoes are killing people they use a natural bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensisisraelensis (Bt). It infects mosquito larvae, but doesn’t harm the rest of the environment. You can apparently buy these in a product called dunks at most garden stores. I also had success finding it for sale online for around a dollar a dunk. Keep in mind, however, that mosquitoes are part of the food chain. If you have a pond right by your front door, on your property, that’s one thing, but don’t go spiking all the lakes in your area.
-Plant protection. I love to garden and it turns out there are a few plants that supposedly repel mosquitoes. It certainly can’t hurt. Several herbs helpful to cooking, including basil, lemongrass, rosemary, and garlic, are on the natural repellent list. Catnip, citronella grass, tansies also called mums, and finally, my favorite, the queen of pest control, marigolds are also said to be effective. Marigold literally repels basically every “bad” bug and attracts pollinators for your garden to boot.
-Recruit help. Encouraging bird and bats to nest nearby is an excellent natural and ongoing bug reduction tactic. Putting out bird feeders and nesting boxes is a great start, though other options will probably be specific to your local help. For instance, certain types of feed are more likely attract different bird species. Smaller birds like sparrows and finches that have a primary diet of insects are best.
-Get high tech. We did eventually also buy a Mosquito Magnet. These release a plume of C02 to attract mosquitoes, and then suck them in and trap them. They are semi-expensive, we got ours off Amazon as a warehouse deal for about $200, but you should see the results. The pic below was from about 12 hours. Tip, if you have high collection like this where the bugs are still alive when you trap is full, place the collector in the freezer to demobilize the skeeters so you an empty it into a ziploc to throw away. Skip homemade traps, they are a waste of yeast.
Next, I looked into effective ways to get rid of mosquitoes on your person. My kids have super sensitive skin, so no chemicals for me.
-Citronella. When you do go outside, light some citronella candles. They may let off an unusual smell, but they really work. You can think of them like stinky tiki-torches.
-Organic bug sprays.This article could get long if I listed them all, but a quick Google will bring a wealth of home made bug repellent recipes, many which can be made from the plants listed above. You may have to do some trial and error. The reason some people have success with some recipes, and others don’t, is that each person has a different body chemistry and every area has different species of biting bugs.
-Be unattractive. Finally, you can make an effort to make your kids and yourself less attractive to mosquitoes. This means wearing light colored clothing, avoiding scented hygiene products and perfume, and trying your best to stay cool. Fans on low-wind days can help both to mask your high heat signature and to blow away flying bugs-literally.