How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes

Close-up of a mosquito on someone's skin

Mosquito bites are itchy, annoying, and potentially dangerous, with the ability to spread diseases such as West Nile or Zika virus. We’ll show you how to get rid of mosquitoes with some of the best store-bought and home remedies for repelling and killing mosquitoes, indoors and out.

9 Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

Mosquitoes are usually the most annoying when you’re trying to enjoy your yard. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding and protect yourself from bites with these outdoor remedies.

1. Get Rid of Standing Water

Adult female mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, and their larvae feed on the algae and organic material that grow in puddles. So, getting rid of stagnant water is the first step in eliminating mosquitoes. 

It only takes a thimble-sized amount of water for eggs to hatch. Even raindrops collected on a leaf can be enough. Even though you can’t eliminate all the moisture in your yard, you can minimize mosquito breeding by following these steps:

  • Water your lawn the proper amount so excess water doesn’t pool
  • Clean gutters at least twice a year so they don’t hold water 
  • Install a pump on decorative ponds or fountains to keep the water moving 
  • Drain birdbaths
  • Empty saucers beneath flower pots
  • Don’t leave pet water bowls sitting outside 
  • Bring buckets, children’s toys, and anything else that might collect water inside before rain

It’s simple: The less standing water in your yard, the fewer mosquitoes you’ll have to deal with this summer.

2. Apply Larvicides 

If it’s been a wet spring and you suspect adult mosquitoes have converted your yard into breeding grounds, larvicides are your best defense. These are applied directly to the water where hatchlings may be waiting, preventing them from ever reaching adulthood. 

The most useful larvicide products are disc-shaped mosquito dunks containing BTI, a natural bacterium that kills mosquito larvae but doesn’t harm other living things. Drop a mosquito dunk into standing water, and it will stay afloat, slowly dissolving and distributing the BTI. 

3. Keep Mosquito Spray Handy

When you’re stocking up for your next barbecue, don’t forget to grab plenty of mosquito-repellent spray. Look for products  containing picaridin or DEET, which are effective and generally considered safe. Avoid repellents with permethrin, which can cause severe problems for your pets. 

Keep in mind that most repellents, even the safe ones, contain chemicals and should be used with caution. Always follow the instructions on the label. If you want a chemical-free option, look for natural repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus. 

4. Use Foggers for Large Areas

If you’re hosting a big party or event, you might want to use a mosquito fogger, a machine that creates a mist of insecticides to kill any mosquitoes in the vicinity. Foggers are generally considered the best mosquito repellents for yards because they cover a larger area than aerosol sprays. 

You can purchase a mosquito fogger at your local home supply store. Pick up a fogger before any big summer event and fog your backyard on the day for up to 12 hours of coverage (depending on the specific product you use). 

5. Hang a Few Zappers

Emitting an irresistible UV light, bug zappers invite mosquitoes to their death. Place zappers around your outdoor space, and they’ll electrocute any insect that comes near. It’s important to note that these will kill all insects, not just mosquitoes.

6. Invite Natural Predators

Instead of commercial mosquito-killing products, you can introduce or invite natural predators into your yard to hunt down the mosquitoes for you. Try attracting birds, frogs, dragonflies, damselflies, or spiders, all of which prey on mosquitoes. Or set up a bat house in your backyard.

7. Wear Protective Clothing

Mosquitoes can’t bite you if they can’t reach your skin. Wear thick pants and shirts that cover as much skin as possible when you’re planning to be outside for a long time during mosquito season. 

Of course, wearing lots of clothes in the middle of summer isn’t the most appealing idea. When you don’t feel like covering up, that’s when repellent sprays come in handy. 

8. Plant Floral or Herbal Deterrents

Another option can combine beautiful plantings and delightful scents. Many scented plants that are pleasant for humans are overwhelming for mosquitoes. 

Some of the best pest-repelling plants for your garden include:

  • Citronella 
  • Lavender 
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Catnip

A blend of the right herbs and flowers can be just as effective as DEET, the leading chemical insect deterrent.

9. Place Dryer Sheets Strategically

Mosquitoes hate the smell of dryer sheets, too. In a pinch, you can place dryer sheets wherever you don’t want mosquitoes congregating, such as near coolers and food tables.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your House

Mosquito bites are bad enough when you’re outside, in their territory, but they’re even more annoying when the mosquitoes encroach on your home and there’s nowhere you can go to get away from them. Here’s what you can do to keep mosquitoes out of your house.  

1. Close Windows and Doors

The best way to prevent mosquitoes in your home is to keep your doors and windows closed as much as possible. For complete protection, make sure there are no holes or breaks in the screens that they could sneak through.

2. Make a DIY Mosquito Repellent

You don’t want to spray chemical mosquito repellents indoors. The fumes can linger for a long time, and there’s a much higher risk of inhaling them than there is outside. Instead, try making a chemical-free DIY mosquito spray for indoor use.  

DIY mosquito-repellent recipe: 

  • 40 drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, camphor oil, tea tree oil, or basil oil 
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or 1/3 cup witch hazel. 

Combine these ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the mixture around your home. Homemade mixes will be effective for a few hours but will need to be reapplied.

3. Set a Few Traps

There are a lot of different mosquito traps you can try indoors, and they’re available everywhere from Amazon to the store down the street. Some are sticky pads, and some are vacuums that suck the mosquitoes inside. Your choice depends on how much space you have and how much money you’re willing to spend. 

The best place to put mosquito traps is high-traffic areas where you’re likely to find mosquitoes, like beside the front door or bedroom window. 

4. Zap Mosquitoes

Most outdoor bug zappers can be used indoors as well. Many of them are quiet except for the undeniable crinkle sound when the bug meets its fate. Just be careful where you place zappers, so no curious pets or toddlers get hurt. 

About Mosquitoes 

There are about 3,500 different types of mosquito, and almost 200 of them live in North America. Why should you be concerned about them? And when can you expect to see them? Learn everything you need to know about these peckish pests here. 

Mosquito Bites 

The mosquitoes that bite are all females, who need the nourishment to develop eggs. While feeding on blood, the female transfers her saliva, which is what causes the itchy reaction.

Mosquitoes as Carriers of Disease

Mosquitoes can transmit several diseases through their saliva, but the only ones you need to worry about are those prevalent in your area. 

In the continental U.S., the most common disease spread by mosquitoes is West Nile virus. According to the CDC, 4 in 5 people infected with West Nile don’t feel sick at all, and only about 1 in 150 develop serious illness. Other less common mosquito-borne illnesses in North America include La Crosse encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis.

If you’re planning to travel abroad, though, you might be at risk of contracting dengue, Zika, yellow fever, or chikungunya from mosquito bites. Do research before you leave home, and pack plenty of mosquito repellents, mosquito netting, and protective clothing if necessary. 

When Mosquitoes are Active

“Mosquito season” typically begins in spring and tapers off in fall, as mosquitoes prefer warm temperatures. They also thrive in humidity. The first freeze of the year, followed by temperatures consistently below 50 degrees, will be the end of mosquito scourges until next spring. As for the time of day, mosquitoes are most active in the evening. 

Mosquito Life Cycle

Though they only live for about a week, adult female mosquitoes can lay as many as 10 broods of up to 500 eggs in that time. This rapid life cycle and reproduction is what makes mosquitoes so difficult to manage. 

FAQ About Mosquitoes 

1. Do mosquitoes hate smoke?

Yes, mosquitoes tend to avoid smoke. So, if you’re planning a bonfire, you probably won’t have to worry about mosquitoes crashing the party – as long as you stay near the fire. Wander out of range of the smoke, and you’re fair game for hungry, hungry mosquitoes. 

2. What color do mosquitoes hate?

Mosquitoes take bright or light colors as a warning and typically stay away from them. On the other hand, they’re more attracted to darker colors. When you’re planning an outfit during mosquito season, stick to the sunny side of the color spectrum. 

3. Where do mosquitoes hide during the day?

During the day, you’ll usually find mosquitoes sleeping in sheltered places such as underneath rocks, inside logs, amidst thick vegetation, or squirreled away in holes in trees. 

4. What’s the difference between bed bug bites and mosquito bites?

Woke up this morning with mysterious bug bites? Here are some identifying features of bed bug bites vs. mosquito bites to help you figure out if you should suspect bed bugs, or if you’ve got regular old mosquitoes on your hands. 

Mosquito bites:
Raised bumps that resemble hives (vary in size depending on each person’s reaction)
Itchy, possibly extremely itchy if you have a severe reaction
Can occur through thin clothing (like summertime pajamas)
Single bites or multiple bites in a random pattern

Bed bug bites:
Red, pimple-like bumps 
Itchy or painful, especially in the morning as soon as you wake up
Usually occur where bare skin comes in contact with bedding (though bed bugs sometimes burrow under clothes)
Typically multiple bites in a straight line 

If you think you might be facing a bed bug infestation, call a professional exterminator for help or check out these ways to get rid of bed bugs. 

When to Call a Mosquito Control Professional

Pest control experts work indoors and out, and they’re versed in the safest and most effective ways to get rid of your mosquitoes. A licensed professional can help you control mosquitoes with products and measures that are safe for humans and their furry friends.

If you live in an area where disease-carrying mosquitoes are likely, or if someone in your home is seriously allergic, it’s a no-brainer to call in support. Or you might want to call in a pest control pro if you’re just prone to bites (mosquitoes love sweet smells and O-type blood).

The good news is that you don’t have to keep slapping yourself and scratching your ankles all summer long. There are many products available to keep mosquitoes away from your backyard party. They might show up uninvited, but at least you can quickly show them the door.

LawnStarter writer Alison Hoover contributed to this article.

Main Photo Credit: Emphyrio / Pixabay

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin is a writer, editor, and classical literature student based in Colorado. When she isn't reading or writing, she enjoys goofing off with her cats and spending time in nature.