By Erin Huffstetler | 07/23/2014 | 5 Comments
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.