How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Naturally

Mosquitoes are annoying, but you know what else is annoying? Most of the advice on how to get rid of them. Do a quick web search for “get rid of mosquitoes” and you’ll get two basic pieces of advice:

A. Dump any standing water on your property.

B. Spend a bunch of money spraying your yard with chemicals. Then, repeat the process every two weeks.

That first piece of advice isn’t bad, but that second piece of advice is just plain rotten, in my opinion. I’m not comfortable with the idea of spraying chemicals around my family, and I don’t like broad spectrum insecticides, either. Will they kill the mosquitoes? Sure. But they’ll also kill a lot of beneficial bugs, too. Maybe even some that were eating my mosquitoes.

So what are you supposed to do when dumping your standing water isn’t enough action and spraying your yard with chemicals feels like too much action? You turn to nature for the solution.

And nature is all about balance. If mosquitoes are a problem in your yard, it’s because there aren’t enough predators to keep the population in check. Introduce those predators, and over time, the problem will take care of itself.

So, am I suggesting that you unleash a bunch of scary beasts in your backyard? Not at all. In fact, let me show you what I’ve done to solve the mosquito problem in my own backyard:

Foraging Chickens

We got chickens. Chickens love to eat all sorts of bugs, including mosquitoes. We give them time out of their coop each day to forage, and we get rewarded with fewer pest problems. If a mosquito happens to land on one of us while holding one of our hens, she’ll eat it right off of our arm. Sure beats DEET. Find out more about keeping chickens.

Toad in Bird Bath

We got toads. Toads eat mosquitoes, slugs and other garden pests, so we’ve introduced several into our garden. They’re fairly easy to attract, but you can also buy toads, if you prefer to go that route. Read more about toads.

Bat House

We installed a bat house. Bats eat mosquitoes, beetles, moths and other nuisances bugs. We already have bats in our neighborhood, so we installed a bat house to attract them to our yard. I hope to get a second bat house up soon. Get my instructions for a bat house.

Bird Bath

We’re working to attract dragonflies. Dragonflies are beautiful, and they love to munch on mosquitoes. We don’t have a pond or a large water source to attract them, but we’re doing what we can. So far, we’ve set up a small fountain and several bird baths around our yard to give them a place to lay larvae and hang out. It seems to be working because I recently spotted a dragonfly on my office window. I know having standing water around your yard runs counter to most people’s advice for getting rid of mosquitoes, but it’s okay as long as you have something eating the mosquito larvae. In our case, both the dragonflies and toads are serving this purpose.

Koi Pond

We hope to add a Koi pond someday. A pond full of hungry fish will gobble up your mosquito larvae, while adding a cool feature to your yard. This is on my definite must-do list.

So, Is My Yard Mosquito-Free Now?

No, but it’s much better than it used to be. We can go outside without getting chewed up, and it’s a lot of fun to watch the chickens, toads, bats and dragonflies in action.

Do I Still Use Bug Repellent?

Sometimes. I haven’t really needed it lately, but if I notice mosquitoes, I’ll run back in for one of my homemade bug repellent sticks. It doesn’t have any of the junk that you’d find in store-bought repellents, so I feel good about using it (and letting my kids use it). If you want to experiment, I also have an all-natural bug repellent bar and a bug repellent spray recipe.

Your Mileage May Vary: While this method of mosquito control works well for me (and my small suburban lot in the south), it may not work as well for you. Customize your mosquito plan to meet your own needs.

How to Dry Herbs in a Dehydrator

Buying herbs always leaves me with sticker shock, so I try to grow as many of my own as I can. This time of year we pick herbs as we need them …

Basil Plant

A few basil leaves for tomato sauce …

Fresh Dill

A big handful of dill for our salad dressing …

Sage Plant

A couple sage leaves to season a chicken or turkey …

Fresh Oregano

It’s a wonderful way to eat, but it’s not something that we can do during the winter months. So, I also dry our herbs. The process couldn’t be easier. [Read more...]

How to Sanitize Used Shoes

Stomping around in someone else’s shoes isn’t something I normally recommend, but from time to time I’ll come across a really nice pair of shoes at a yard sale that look like they were worn once. And when that happens, we’ll, they’re coming home with me.

Let me give you a few examples …

Black Keen Sandals

These Keen sandals were $4 at a consignment sale.

New Balance Mary Jane Sneakers

These New Balance Mary Jane sneakers were $1 at a yard sale.

Merrell Sandals

These Merrell sandals were $5.99 at a church rummage sale.

Coach Boots

And these Coach boots were $7 at a yard sale.

All of these shoes are from brands that are known for their quality, and they’re in great condition. And here’s the thing … these are all shoes that we’ve been wearing for a while, so they were even nicer when we bought them. If I can get shoes like this at yard sale prices, I feel like I’d be crazy to pass them up.

But buying used shoes (even worn-once shoes) means you’re buying something that someone else’s feet have been in. How can you ensure that you aren’t buying something with athlete’s foot?

You can’t, but you can sanitize them, so that it’s not a concern. Just stick your new shoes out in the sun for a few hours, and you’ll be good to go. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant. In fact, if you buy your shoes at a yard sale on a hot summer day, they’ve probably already been baking in the sun for a few hours.

How Do You Feel About Used Shoes?

Do you avoid them at all cost? Do you have times when you’re willing to buy them? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See Also:

Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Laundry detergent pods and tabs seem to be catching on quickly, and I can see why: they’re awfully convenient. Unfortunately, they also happen to be awfully expensive. And the thing is, they don’t have to be. There’s really nothing special about them. They’re just pre-measured laundry detergent.

I can make them, and so can you.

I spent some time playing around in my kitchen, and I came up with a recipe for laundry detergent tabs that I really like. It cleans well; it smells nice; it’s affordable; and it’s easy to make. I took all the ingredients that are commonly found in old-school laundry detergent recipes; and I modernized them by using them to make tabs.

Want to try them out for yourself? Here’s the recipe: [Read more...]

How to Make Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

How to Make Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

Buying dishwasher detergent makes me grouchy. A bottle of the natural stuff runs $6, and if you buy the tabs or pods, that $6 only gets you enough for 20 loads – that’s not even a month’s supply for my family!

I’ve tried several homemade recipes over the years (just stuff that I found on the web), but I’ve never been impressed with the results. I always ended up with a white residue on my glasses, and the detergent would harden into a brick after I made it (even if I stored it in an air-tight container). And the fact that the recipes always contained Borax was an issue for me, too. I use Borax for lots of things, but I’m just not keen on using it on our dishes. It is, after all, toxic when ingested.

Clearly, it was time to come up with my own solution.

So, I did a bunch of research on the active ingredients in dishwasher detergent, how they work together, how to address hard water; etc.; and then I experimented until I came up with a recipe that really works. It’s all natural, just like the stuff I was buying (honestly, probably more natural than what I was buying), and it’s in tab form, so it’s really easy to use.

Because I want this recipe to work as well for you as it has for me, I’ve even experimented with the size of the tabs. These should fit the detergent compartment on your dishwasher perfectly. I’ve tested other people’s tab recipes, and that was a problem that I ran into again and again.

Ready to give my dishwasher detergent tabs a try? Here’s the recipe: [Read more...]