Supplement 2 - Keep Backyards Mosquito-Free Naturally

No one wants uninvited guests in their yard - especially mosquitoes. Your yard should be your sanctuary, where your children play and your pets romp. But, how can you keep your yard chemical-free and non-toxic while still effectively eliminating mosquitoes?

Supplement 2 - Keep Backyards Mosquito-Free NaturallyTwo alternatives to chemical pesticides are Garlic Barrier® and Mosquito Barrier® which are both produced by Garlic Research Labs in California. These products have been proven effective in several tests including one by the Division of Malaria Control in Kenya, which showed that Mosquito Barrier is effective against both Anopheles and Culex adult mosquitoes.

The staff of the Sustainability Institute have, for several years, recommended the use of garlic juice as a way to rid yards of mosquitoes so that people can enjoy backyard barbecues and other activities. This recommendation was based on efficacy study results and positive feedback from many Long Islanders who found garlic juice very effective.

We recommend commercially available Garlic BarrierGarlic Barrier® and Mosquito Barrier® (see below), rather than 'home remedies' because they have been tested and produced with quality control. They can be difficult to find at local stores, however it is worth the effort to find them. They are easy to apply, non-toxic and effective. It should be noted that these products can also help against other pests that bite, such as gnats and ticks.

Pump sprayerThe application process requires a basic pump sprayer (two common brands are Hudson and Solo) or hose-end sprayer. Avoid use of a sprayer that has been used to spray chemical pesticides. The product can be sprayed on all of the trees and bushes in the area and should be sprayed onto both sides of the leaves. Particular attention should be given to greenery around the perimeter of the property.

The treatment should last for about two weeks, but remember that the more often it rains the more frequently you will need to re-apply the treatment. If you have an event planned, applying the product a few days before should provide the best results.

It is very common for people to ask if the yard will smell like garlic. Generally, humans only notice the smell for a few hours after application. Mosquitoes, however, have a very powerful sense of smell and find it overpowering, which causes them to head in another direction.

Garlic Barrier® and/or Mosquito Barrier® are available on Long Island at:

Other garlic products to consider:

  • Mosquito Shield, by Gro-Well
  • Dr. T's Mosquito & Gnat Scat Granules, by Woodstream

Eliminate standing water - Mosquito biteA basic understanding of the mosquito's lifecycle provides strategies to eliminate them from your yard. Some mosquito species can grow from egg to adult in under a week in standing water, and don't travel far from where they are born. It isn't just unsightly things like old tires, tarps, buckets and cans left lying around that can collect water and breed mosquitoes. The bottoms of flowerpots, planters, and other decorative items in your yard can also hold enough water. Holes in trees and even low lying ground that has puddles for more than a week at a time can harbor mosquito eggs and larvae long enough for them to grow into adults. Pool covers, wading pools and abandoned swimming pools are major breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Gutters and downspouts need to be kept clean and unblocked so water and leaves do not collect in them. Condensation dripping from an air conditioner can create a puddle that mosquitoes will use to breed.

Bird Baths Get a Bad Rap - One common misconception is that birdbaths are associated with breeding mosquitos, essentially turning your backyard into a mosquito breeding ground. This is not true, as long as you keep debris from piling up in the bath and keep it filled with fresh water, mosquitoes will not seek this out as a place to breed. So replace the water every 5 days to keep your birdbaths clean and ready for birds to enjoy.

The Mosquito Magnet® - The Mosquito Magnet® is a patented device that works by releasing a continuous stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) to draw mosquitoes to the trap. With patented "CounterflowTM" technology, mosquitoes are vacuumed into a net where they dehydrate and die. The device can also be used with scientifically proven attractant scents such as octenol for added efficacy.

It is sold at Home Depot and Lowes. Be mindful that is an expensive product, with prices ranging over $500, depending on the retailer and therefore is most appropriate for large events like an outdoor wedding or concert.

The Rush Hampton Mosquito Catcher®  - We have gotten very positive feedback about the Rush Hampton Mosquito Catcher from some trusted sources. The catcher is an electric device that does not use propane. Therefore, it does not release any additional CO2 into the atmosphere. This product can be purchased from online retailers like Amazon for around $90.

Anywhere that standing water can't be eliminated or flushed out every few days, (such as a derelict pool) should be treated with 'mosquito dunks' or 'mosquito donuts'. Large parks, golf courses and organic farms often use the biological control containing the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, commonly called: Bti or just Bt. Bti is deadly to mosquito larvae, but harmless to humans, pets and wildlife. To be effective, this product must be sprayed at the right time of year to effect the larvae.

Koi ponds, ornamental pools and other larger water features in your landscape should be stocked with mosquito eating fish, or they should be equipped with a surface agitator or aerator to discourage mosquitoes from laying their eggs.

CitronellaCitronella - candles or torches can be moderately effective. They have about a 4 to 6 foot radius of protection, if there is no breeze.

Fans - Mosquitoes prefer still air, if you are having a party or just sitting out on your deck or patio, plugging in a large fan can provide enough breeze to discourage mosquitoes.

Convert the outdoor lighting on your house to yellow "bug lights"- Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and LEDs are both now available in yellow. Yellow lights don't actually repel mosquitoes and other flying insect, they just attract them less. Insects see light mostly in the blue and ultraviolet (UV) end of the spectrum. Yellow lights give off less blue and UV light, so they are harder for insects to see and be attracted to. Some people advise using regular white LEDs, because they give off very little UV light, but they do give off blue light. Anecdotal experience has shown white LEDs do attract just as many bugs as white incandescent lights do, so switch to the yellow ones. All of your outdoor lighting fixtures should be equipped with the recommended features of the "dark skies" laws that have been adopted by most east end towns on Long Island. Dark Sky consistent lighting fixtures include reflective covers that drive light downward and thereby preventing light pollution that over-illuminates the night sky making it harder for people to experience the beauty of a star-filled night. These fixtures will also attract fewer mosquitoes, because the light is better contained to your property and will not draw them from longer distances.

Common Misconceptions - We want to caution against what has been proven ineffective against mosquitoes including bug zappers, tight clothing, dark clothing, wristbands, 'clip-on' insect repellents, sound wave devices, and eating garlic pills.

More Information:
Keeping Yard Mosquito Repelling (list of tips and recipes all in one place)

Mosquito Factsheet (recommended by Safe lawns)

Long Island Organic Landscapers
Although it's easy for the average homeowner to maintain their lawn organically, some may too busy and wish to hire a professional. In that case there are thousands of landscapers on Long Island to choose from, but only a small but growing number of experts who can maintain your lawn and landscape without the use of chemical pesticides. They can be found here.

To see all the previous steps in the series, please visit 12 Steps to an Organic Lawn