Here are tips for effective mosquito control in the garden, so you can avoid having your outdoor entertaining and activities ruined by these pesky biting bugs.
Remember that dawn and dusk are peak times for flying insects, so if you like to garden very early in the morning or in the evening after work, be sure to apply a repellant.
How to control mosquitoes in your garden
One regrettable side-effect of West Nile worries is that birdbaths are falling out of favor. For mosquito control, empty and replace the water every three or four days.
Situating your birdbath close to an outdoor faucet and hose will make this easier – and you’ll be reminded every time you go out to water something.
Get rid of sources of standing water
Old tires, flower pot saucers, wheelbarrows, rain barrels or tin cans can all collect water and turn into mosquito larvae habitat. If you like to use saucers under container plantings, dump them every couple of days.
If you have a rain barrel, keep mosquitoes out of it. Secure plastic mesh window screening over any openings of your rain barrel or add BTi to the collected water to control mosquito breeding. More information about BTi for prevention of mosquito breeding.
Remove water that collects on swimming pool covers and make sure your swimming pool pump is circulating properly when the cover is off.
Empty and turn over the plastic wading pool when your kids aren’t using it. Change the water often if it’s hot and the kids are using it daily. (This is more hygienic for the kids too.)
Clear debris out of eavestroughs and drains. To control mosquitoes, keep on top of this throughout the summer by checking roof gutters for leaves and twigs regularly.
West Nile disease and mosquito control
Your safest option – especially if you are 45 to 50 and over, the age group most susceptible to the severe and sometimes deadly neurological form of West Nile disease – is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in the first place.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up gardening! But it might mean changing some garden habits.
Here’s what to do:
Clothing and repellents: Wear protective long-sleeved clothing and use a DEET-based insect repellent when mosquitoes are most active. Be sure to spray your clothing to avoid mosquitoes biting through thin cloth. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark, intense colors, so wear light colors.
Stay out of the garden when mosquitoes are most active. Avoid working or sitting in the garden at dawn and dusk because those are the worst times of the day for mosquito bites. Consider adding a screened porch or gazebo sitting area.
If you’re entertaining on the deck or patio in the evening, position outdoor lights away from your seating area as many flying insects are attracted to bright, electric lighting. Use a mosquito coil to help keep the insects away from you and your guests.
Choose breezy spots to sit outdoors. Mosquitoes don’t fly well or far, especially if there’s a wind or breeze, so choose your outdoor seating areas with this in mind. Or take a good strong fan out to the patio. It will help keep you cool too!
Be especially careful in late summer and early fall. In late August and September, people tend to let their guard down when it comes to mosquito control. However, medical researchers in North America have found that the severe form of West Nile disease is more prevalent in people who are bitten by mosquitoes late in the season.