Mosquitoes… ah yes, one of the most annoying aspects of summer. From buzzing to biting — most people deal with them on the go, without really getting rid of them. Once in a while, however, they make it into your home.
Some of the best ways that you can keep mosquitoes out of your home are to use DEET containing spray, keep doors closed, use mosquito traps, keep fans running, double-checking window screens, using essential oils, and keeping lights off.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it. For example, do you know why mosquitoes are attracted to you? Which scents do they hate? How do you prepare your home for mosquitoes? Yes, we’ve got a lot to cover…
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Home
Far better than removing mosquitoes is repelling them from the areas where you live, and from yourself. It’s important to note that mosquitoes have an excellent sense of smell, which means that they will be repelled by some smells.
So, just as carbon dioxide or sweat attracts them, certain scents have the opposite effect.
Additionally, there’s many things you can and SHOULD do around your home to help keep mosquitos away.
Please keep in mind that these items may or may not work depending on the situation. Some, however (like DEET), have strong empirical research backing their effectiveness while others are lacking but are believed to work.
1. Use DEET
Ah yes, DEET.
You may also recognize it as N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide. No? Probably not.
Well, now is a good time to get to know one of the best mosquito repellents of the modern era. There is a wide amount of research on DEET specifically pointing to mosquitos avoiding where DEET is present 1.
Additionally, DEET has been deemed safe for general use by the EPA with. You’ll find DEET in many products such as bug sprays and clips.
However, if you’re trying to keep mosquitoes away from your home, then you can release DEET around and near your home to help deter them – or wherever you’re trying to repel them from for that matter.
Specifically, I recommend a DEET based spray like OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent. You don’t have to get this specific spray, but just make sure you look for a spray containing DEET and follow the instructions for application carefully.
Give it some research, it might keep you bite free this summer.
2. Fix Your Window Screens
This is an important aspect of keeping insects away from your home. Make sure that there aren’t any holes or broken parts of either your window or door screens to ensure that the insects don’t reach your home.
When I moved into my current apartment, I noticed I was getting bit by SOMETHING at night. Not being able to find out exactly what it was, I noticed that there was a gigantic hole in my window screen.
Make sure that there are no holes, or even little ones that are stretched beyond their original size, as bugs will be able to fit through those.
3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Just like citronella or mint, eucalyptus oil has a strong smell that makes it difficult for mosquitoes to find food. You can use the oil from eucalyptus alone or you can use it as a spray.
Like many plants on this list, the oil is more effective than just the plant for repelling mosquitos. More specifically, one study states that hydrodistillation (boiling it) of eucalyptus essential oil is more effective than just the essential oil itself 2.
What you can do, which may be easier, is get a diffuser and release the essential oils in your home this way.
If you need a diffuser, a good place to start your search is with the VicTsing 500ml Essential Oil Diffuser which, at the time of this writing, comes with Eucalyptus essential oil in its package.
This will help to keep your home smelling good and hopefully deter mosquitoes in the process.
4. Make Sure Doors Are Closed
Yes, this one is simple yet sometimes surpassed. There are full wooden doors, metal doors and plastic doors. The one you really need to keep closed?
Screen doors easily get left open due to their lightweight, so just remember that when you or your family are sprinting outside to make sure to keep it shut.
Also, while we’re talking about screens, take a look into getting a screen door like this Bug Off Instant Screen incase you don’t have one already.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
Any minty smell is not great for mosquitoes, which makes it perfect as a repeller. Surprisingly, when applied directly on the skin and thoroughly diluted in water, peppermint oil is touted as an effective insect repellent 3.
So, it could be worth cleaning your deck or outside your home with a peppermint oil-based cleaner. There isn’t much empirical evidence for using it on surfaces to repel mosquitos, but it could temporarily repel flying insects in theory with reapplication every so often.
6. Clean Junk Off Your Property
Instead of creating spaces for mosquitoes to breed and live, you should remove as much of it as possible. Remove all items that are unnecessary, especially those that can hold water. Old tires, barrels, pots, and pans, etc., are all to blame.
See, with the more cluttered your property is, the more areas that mosquitos can potentially breed in.
Think about it – there are so many little nooks and crannies that are made by excess clutter on your property. These spots become damp and humid, perfect more mosquitos larva.
7. Try Basil Extract
While the plant itself here isn’t as helpful, the real gold comes in the form of the extract. Basil extract has been found to be devastating to mosquito larva 4.
Overall, there isn’t as much research into the effects of basil as there are for say, DEET. However, if you have some basil around or basil essential oil, it may be worth applying some outside or even planting a few plants to see some minimal effect.
Again, the main prize here comes from the extract itself.
8. Use Marigold’s or Marigold Extract (Calendula)
These beautiful flowers won’t just make your garden look amazing throughout the year, but it will also make the mosquitoes go away. The extract from the petals of marigolds, also called Calendula, can do wonders in getting rid of mosquitos 5.
Now, does the extract omit from the petals? Nope. However, putting these plants near your windows and or in front of your porch could be worth a shot as they do have a pungent smell which could, in theory, infiltrate the olfactory senses of mosquitos.
9. Use Mosquito Traps
If you want to have a little bit less work on your hands, you can always look into a bug zapper for certain areas near your home. Bug zappers are essentially large, electric lights that shock insects when they fly into them.
Generally, for outside your home, you’ll want a bug zapper. I recommend starting your search at the Flowtron BK-40D.
10. Keep Your Lights Off
Lights attract mosquitoes and show them where you are. Your porch lights can be especially attractive. So, if there are mosquitoes outside, you should shut your porch lights off or at least dim them and close the door tightly, so that they can’t enter your house.
11. Use a Mosquito Net
Living in an area with mosquitoes is best handled with nets. You can put one on your door and cover all of your windows with it too. In addition, it’s a good idea to have some around your bed, especially when it’s humid inside.
Growing up, we lived in a very rural area of Upstate, NY and I had mosquito’s biting me quite often during the summer. Inside the house, I would get more bites during the night while I was sleeping than I did during the day (or at least it felt like I did).
Luckily, I don’t get as many mosquitos inside anymore, but if you’re getting bit at night by mosquitos, look into this Even Naturals Luxury Mosquito Net Bed Canopy for your room.
Essentially, it’s a classy cover that will yes, keep you mosquito-free during the evening.
12. Wear Thicker and Lighter Clothes
One of the most common confusing events is when you see a mosquito bite in an area that was generally covered by clothes. How is it possible that a mosquito bit you through clothes? Well, some mosquitoes can do this, and with most species, it depends on how thick your clothes are.
Female mosquitoes are well-known for their ability to bite through a loose and light t-shirt or pants. If you wear jeans or similar thick clothing, you will most likely be safe from mosquitoes.
So, make sure that your clothing covers your skin completely since this will protect you from most mosquitoes. Avoid black clothes or any darker colors since those increase your body temperature during the summer which will attract mosquitos and possibly draw them inside.
13. Use a Fan
Having a fan on your patio will cool you and your guests off, and keep the mosquitoes away. They can’t fly when the air is moving quickly, so they will probably give up and leave your patio alone. You can use several fans if just one doesn’t work.
Keep that breeze going!
14. Clean Gutters
Gutters can be filled up with all sorts of things, so they will retain water, which is perfect for mosquitoes and other bugs to breed. Clean your gutters frequently and make sure that the water doesn’t stand still at any point.
This goes along with cleaning the junk off your property. Remember, we want to get rid of ANY small, dark and humid places where standing water could be.
This is going to help keep the possible areas for mosquito breeding lower and keep your property more mosquito-free.
15. Mow Your lawn
Grass and weeds provide for a perfect habitat for mosquitoes, which is why you have to keep it as low as possible. Again, we’re trying to elimiate any and all possbilites for mosquitos even though having your lawn an inch or two, too long won’t hurt, having it a foot or 2 too long, will.
Keep your grass low as you can (without hitting dirt) and you’ll be sitting pretty.
Oh, and you’re lawn will look nice too.
Why Do Mosquitoes Want to Get Into Your Home?
There are a few obvious reasons why mosquitoes may want to get into your home.
For one, females need your blood, as mentioned, to lay eggs. They can’t get the protein they need from sources like plant nectar, so they are on the hunt for human or mammal blood. Your warmth, sweat, and breath are all signaling to them where you are.
The second reason why they may want to get into your house is that it provides safety. Heat can dehydrate mosquitoes, so they hide for the majority of the day — at least, most species do.
The need for hiding cuts their activity time to the late hours of the afternoon and the first few hours into the evening. However, if they get inside your house, they can stay active for a lot longer, extending their activity for the majority of the day and night.
Females are also always looking for dark and damp places to lay their eggs, and your home could offer an abundance of those. For example, you may have a fish tank out in the open.
The places they like may not be so obvious from the start. If you have a wet basement, they’ll lay their eggs there over winter. They could also lay eggs under your sink, in the bathroom, or similar spaces.
What’s more difficult, is that mosquito eggs (pictured above) are difficult to spot, so you may not even notice them in your home until its too late.
Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Your Home?
Mosquitoes, like any other animal, are always on the lookout for a safe space to call home. And if your property provides that and some other conditions, you have an open invitation out for all mosquitoes to come.
Here are some of the other conditions mosquitoes love that your home may be giving them:
Mosquitoes lay eggs on a still water surface, so that is what will attract them to your home and yard. Look for the most obvious culprits first — fish ponds, birdbaths, pools, etc. These will attract them the most.
But mosquitoes are tiny, so any standing water is what they prefer.
For example, if you leave water for too long in your pet’s bowl the water will further filled with bacteria the longer it sits and become more attractive to mosquitos (granted the pet dish is outside).
Furthermore, look for scraps of materials around your yard that may be containing water for a long time after rain—for example, old tires, toys, dishes, etc.
Even your lawn could be your enemy. If your lawn is not aerated or spiked often, the water could be pooling in certain areas, and this is often enough for mosquitoes to lay their eggs! The more stagnant the water gets, the more bacteria can build, and more likely it can get for mosquitoes to take up home.
Remember – we want to clean up the outside of your house so that mosquitos won’t be NEAR your house to get inside!
Next, make sure to clear your rain gutters as they often hold water (and other gunk) for a long time. When you empty all of that good stuff from the gutter to your yard, dispose of the waste by either mowing over it OR putting it in a trash can.
Make sure you don’t dispose of any of the gunk from your gutter/lawn down your storm drain as this can really do a number on the addition of mosquitoes to your area.
Oh, and one last thing to keep an eye on is garbage bins since they can also contain still water (and stink).
When the summer comes, mosquitoes seem to be everywhere. But what particularly attracts them is plant life. Their primary food is nectar from plants, and only females drink blood for the protein that will enable them to lay their eggs.
Mosquitoes love to kick back and hang around trees or shrubbery that can provide them with the shade they need during the day. Heat can dehydrate them and eventually kill them, so they like to be around forests and similar areas that give them shelter.
So, if you live in an area that has all of these elements, it’s definitely going to be difficult to keep mosquitoes out of and away from your home (but not impossible).
One solution for this problem is spraying your garden with pyrethrins, chemicals that are taken from chrysanthemums that deter and kill mosquitoes and other insect pests.
At the same time, you could also trim your plants down to make the shade less appealing for mosquitoes. Remove or cut back on any heavy leafy plants because mosquitoes like to hang on the bottom of the leaves.
And while there isn’t a large amount of definite proof that plants themselves can deter mosquitoes, it doesn’t hurt to have a few possible mosquito-repelling plants in your garden. Consider citronella or any plant with a minty smell (peppermint is great!).
Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted To People?
Mosquitoes bite people for several reasons. Some people are more attractive to them than others 6, while some hardly get bitten. You may be able to control some of these elements, while some will be largely out of your control.
For instance, mosquitoes may like you because of your blood type. Female mosquitoes are especially in need of protein in order to lay eggs, and they find it in our blood. One study found that mosquitoes are more attracted to the type O blood more than A or B and that they prefer type B blood over type A blood 7.
Another factor that makes us attractive to mosquitoes is carbon dioxide, which we release when we breathe 8. They use it to find us like its smell, which means that the heavier and more you breathe, the more mosquitoes may bite you.
Thinking about it – beer may even make you a better target for mosquitoes because drinking alcohol raises your temperature!
How Long Do Mosquitoes Live?
Mosquitoes don’t live for too long. In the best conditions, they might live a few days or a few weeks before dying. Females live longer than males. However, they do leave a mark on this world during their short lifespan. In fact, female mosquitoes generally lay around 100 eggs at a time according to the CDC.
Before laying their eggs, female mosquitoes have to drink blood. While they normally eat plant nectar, they need protein from mammal blood in order to allow their eggs to develop properly.
You’ve probably heard someone say that only female mosquitoes bite — and this is why.
She’ll normally lay her eggs on a still body of water, like a puddle, a lake, a swamp, etc. Some species lay eggs separately, so all of them are scattered around, and some lay them in the form of a small raft.
From that moment, the mosquitoes will need a week to hatch. Of course, mosquito eggs laid during winter will wait for extreme colds then warm weather to hatch. This lets them know that winter has happened and is gone now. They will normally wait for higher temperatures.
After that week, the eggs turn into larvae, and they stay that way for 14 days. Larvae will mostly eat and hang around water, with a long, worm-like body and a tube that allows them to breathe. After two weeks, larvae will turn into pupae!
Then, the pupae will turn into a fully grown mosquito and will mostly move towards the surface. Male pupae will hatch first, and females won’t be long after them.
Once they leave the water surface, they will mate with each other. What follows is the process from the beginning of the cycle. Males will go looking for nectar and they won’t live that long — perhaps a week or two (if they are not swatted before), and females will look for blood in order to keep their eggs healthy.
Mosquitoes prefer biting and feeding around sundown when the sun is still out but not enough to dehydrate them or later in the evening.
If they get inside a house, they can be active throughout the day. During the hottest hours of the day, most species will hide from the sun (generally what we do too).
Why Are Mosquitoes Still Useful for the Environment?
After all of this, you are probably wondering why mosquitoes even exist and why we are not trying to get rid of them completely. However, they are useful creatures, endlessly important for the food chain and for the environment in general. They may be annoying and even dangerous, but they help nature and serve a crucial purpose.
So, here are some things you may not have known about mosquitoes:
- Mosquitoes pollinate plants
- Many animals feed on mosquitoes including birds, fish, and frogs
- Birds depend on mosquitoes as food when they migrate to areas where it’s harder to find food
Even so, people would appreciate not having mosquitoes in their lives ever again. So, let’s put that idea to the test. What would happen if mosquitoes went extinct?
For one, it would be the largest number of species to disappear, since mosquitoes have around 3500 species. But out of all of those species, only about 3 are carrying diseases. Still, almost unsurprisingly, mosquitoes are still one of the most efficient transmitters in the world 9.
By removing mosquitoes from the food chain, numerous species that feed on them would see a loss of a food source. However, mosquitoes really aren’t the primary food source of many animals. Sure, they eat them, but other animals and critters could find their nutrition elsewhere.
The Final Buzz
Mosquitoes are extremely annoying, but there are ways to keep them out of your home. There are quite a few solutions that will help you keep them away from you. Hopefully, you’re on your way to a mosquito free summer!
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- Maurya, P., Sharma, P., Mohan, L., Batabyal, L., & Srivastava, C. N. (2009). Evaluation of the toxicity of different phytoextracts of Ocimum basilicum against Anopheles stephensi and Culex quinquefasciatus. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 12(2), 113-115.
- Hajra, A., Dutta, S., & Mondal, N. K. (2016). Mosquito larvicidal activity of cadmium nanoparticles synthesized from petal extracts of marigold (Tagetes sp.) and rose (Rosa sp.) flower. Journal of parasitic diseases, 40(4), 1519-1527.
- McBride, C. S. (2016). Genes and odors underlying the recent evolution of mosquito preference for humans. Current Biology, 26(1), R41-R46.
- Shirai, Y., Funada, H., Takizawa, H., Seki, T., Morohashi, M., & Kamimura, K. (2004). Landing preference of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) on human skin among ABO blood groups, secretors or nonsecretors, and ABH antigens. Journal of medical entomology, 41(4), 796-799.
- Gillies, M. T. (1980). The role of carbon dioxide in host-finding by mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae): a review. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 70(4), 525-532.
- World Health Organization. (1961). World Health Organization (WHO). http://www. who. int/substance_abuse/activities/gad/en/index. html.