It’s that time of year again – mosquito season! My low-lying property is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes, and each summer, I come up with environmentally friendly ways to combat them.
You can’t get rid of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes play an important role in our ecosystem. Eradicating them entirely should never be anyone’s intention and full-on chemical warfare is never the right solution.
Reducing the mosquito population
We have two options to get rid of mosquitos.
- attract natural predators like birds and bats to eat them, or
- take on the role of predators ourselves and come up with all these crazy ways to manage their populations.
Our feathered and winged allies are already dealing with the effects of habitat loss and food scarcity, so what a great way to help each other out.
Upgrade your yard
Turning our yards into flower-filled, friendly environments equipped with water features for drinking and bathing will welcome natural predators like birds and bats.
Make it inviting with birdhouses and bat houses and plant a diverse range of plants, including night-blooming plants for the bats
Plants that attract birds:
Any wildflowers will do, and the more variety the better! The flowers attract insects, which in turn attract birds and bats.
Here are some of my favorite varieties of plants that will aid in your quests to get rid of mosquitoes:
- Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.): These cheerful flowers are so easy to grow they produce an abundance of seeds that attract various bird species.
- Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.): Colorful nectar-rich blooms and medicinal coneflowers that attract a variety of insects that attract birds.
- Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.): Vibrant yellow flowers with dark centers
- Elderberry (Sambucus spp.): The clusters of small berries on elderberry bushes are a favorite snack for many bird species. My chickens love them too! If you are going to grow them, start from cuttings. They’re very easy to root.
- Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.): Also known as Juneberries. Birds love the sweet fruits.
- Winterberry (Ilex verticillata): This deciduous holly species produces bright red berries the during winter.
- Viburnum (Viburnum spp.): Native to Florida and an abundance of berries!
- Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.): Another Florida native. Awesome vibrant purple berries.
Plants that attract bats:
In Florida, you can find several bat species, including the Brazilian free-tailed bat, evening bat, southeastern myotis, and tricolored bat, and they each eat lots of mosquitoes!
The trick here is to plant lots of night-blooming plants that attract moths, beetles, and other night-flying insects. Bats, being natural predators of these insects, will help keep the mosquito population in check by preying on them during their nightly foraging.
- Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum): Intensely fragrant flowers during warm summer nights.
- Agave (Agave spp.) and Yucca (Yucca spp.): known for their succulent and spiky leaves, but they also produce tall stalks with nectar-rich blooms that lure in both pollinators and some bats that aren’t from Florida but have been seen here like the Mexican Long-Tongued Bat and Lesser Long-Nosed Bat.
- Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.): Beautiful evening blooms.
- Nicotiana (Nicotiana spp.): Great smelling night blooming trumpet-shaped flowers
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.): Vines with nectar-filled flowers that attract both hummingbirds and bats.
- Banana shrub (Michelia figo): fragrant blooms release a strong scent at night.
- Four o’clock flowers (Mirabilis spp.): Bloom late afternoon and evening
- Moonflower (Ipomoea alba): Moonflowers open up at dusk, emitting a sweet fragrance that beckons bats and moths.
- Agastache (Agastache spp.): This flowering plant, also known as hyssop, produces nectar-filled blossoms that appeal to bats and other pollinators.
Incorporate these plants into your garden for a touch of natural beauty, fragrance and less mosquito bites.
Grow Mosquito-Repelling Plants
Several fragrant plants contain oils that emit odors that mosquitoes find unpleasant. This makes them more inclined to flee and less likely to bite.
Any strong-smelling herb would work, but here are some plants that commonly do well.
Plants that repel mosquitoes:
- Citronella: This popular plant emits a strong fragrance that masks mosquito-attracting scents.
- Marigolds: Vibrant flowers that add beauty and repel mosquitoes with their unique aroma.
- Basil: Apart from being a fantastic herb for cooking, basil also deters mosquitoes with its potent oils.
- Lemon balm: Its refreshing citrus scent is delightful for us but not so appealing to mosquitoes.
- Rosemary: Not only does rosemary enhance the flavor of your culinary creations, but it also acts as a natural mosquito repellent.
How to use mosquito repelling plants
To maximize the mosquito-repelling effect of these plants, plant them throughout entrances, walkways and hangout spots.
- Every time you walk by them, grab some leaves, crush them up, and rub on your skin.
- Scatter the leaves on the ground so the leaves release the oils when people walk on them,
- Cook the leaves and twigs on a grill or burn them like incense.
Suck ’em up with a box fan
Want to step up your game? Put an octenal pack by the fan to attract more mosquitoes.
The Mosquito Magnet
This Mosquito Magnet didn’t have great reviews and it is pricey. But, we were desperate and we got it…
Although the reviews stated you have to take care of it, I didn’t, and after 4 years, it stopped catching mosquitoes and started making strange noises. In retrospect, it was totally my fault and I wish I would have stored it during off seasons and maintain the unit better because this thing worked great. But, can’t afford another one.
- a CO2 cartridge to clean the line every few months
- octenal to attract the mosquitoes to the machine’s vacuum
- The machine converts propane to CO2 to attract mosquitoes. The propane tank needs to be replaced every 2 months. The machine won’t run with an empty tank.
- you HAVE to maintain the machine. Many of the reviews said they break, and if you don’t take care of yours, it will clog and fail.
- Check out this video to see how many mosquitoes our mosquito magnet caught in the first week!
Leave out Buckets of Water
Everyone tells you not to do this, but all the buckets and toys around the yard hold water after it rains and eventually, we find little mosquito larvae swimming in them…then I dump them before they become mosquitoes.
They have to lay their eggs somewhere why not control them? It’s just a problem when you don’t check them regularly
There are all kinds of dunks you can buy to kill mosquito larvae in large puddles, ponds, drainage ditches, birdbaths, rain barrels, and even watering troughs for animals.
They also have Mosquito Bits. that can be sprinkled in your plant beds, container gardens and house plants.
It says it contains a safe and naturally occurring bacterium that is safe enough to use in birdbaths, rain barrels, ponds, and even watering troughs for animals…so I dropped one in my fish tank with some minnows and they were still alive a few weeks later.
How to get rid of mosquitoes in your house
We have a habit of leaving the doors open…and when you leave doors open in Florida, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats are coming in.
The amazing Fly Web
If there’s a gnat buzzing around the house at night, you can bet it’ll be on the pad the next morning, and it catches ants too! After I accidentally unleashed my sprinkler into the house soffits for most the day, this trap let me know carpenter ants were staging an invasion.
These lights are an intial invest of about $40. The sticky pads are a little over $1 each and need to be replaced every 1-2 months and the bulbs dim over time so you should replace them every 2 years for $12 a piece.
It’s the BEST way to get rid of indoor bug without spraying chemicals, and it serves as a nice nightlight.
Mosquito Bite Relief
Thankfully, nature has provided us with various plants that offer a little relief, and incorporating these natural remedies can alleviate some of the discomforts.
Plants that stop the itch
- Aloe Vera: The gel from the leaves of the aloe vera plant offers immediate relief from mosquito bites. It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe itchiness and reduce swelling.
- Witch Hazel: This natural astringent has anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties and you can grow it!!
- Chamomile: Chamomile is not just a calming tea; it also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce itchiness caused by mosquito bites. Apply cooled chamomile tea to the bite using a cotton ball for relief.
- Lavender: Lavender oil has soothing, antimicrobial properties that can provide relief from mosquito bites.
The bite stick
I’ve got these mosquito bite relief sticks everywhere – in my purse, the kitchen drawer, the car, you name it. They numb the bite so my kids don’t go crazy scratching at them.
History: Mosquitoes in Florida
Mosquitoes love Florida for its standing water, rainfall, and warm temperatures. In fact, back in 1827, the county in Florida was named “Musquito County” by early settlers.
The county was later renamed Brevard County to avoid discouraging potential tourists, but the mosquitoes remained.
In the 1800s, the brave Floridian settlers used palmetto leaves to fan mosquitoes away…they were top sellers at the hardware stores! They also screened their doors, planted citronella plants, and burned palmetto stumps outside their homes in hopes the dense smoke would keep the mosquitoes out.
People lined their pant legs with newspapers to avoid getting bit through their pants and they’d wear handkerchiefs over their faces.
Fortunately, we have more resources than our ancestors from 100 years ago. There are several ways to decrease your exposure to mosquito bites, the West Nile Virus, and whatever other diseases they may carry.
During the 1900s, the county experimented by digging hundreds of miles of ditches along the Banana River (impounding) to change the water levels, giving the mosquitoes a much smaller territory to claim as breeding grounds.
Digging trenches was hard work and a lot of maintenance, so in the 1940s, chemicals were introduced to control mosquitoes in Florida, including DDT and pesticides. It was stopped almost 15 years later when environmental concerns began to arise.
We went back to impounding and still continue to do so today.