Some 200 species of mosquitoes inhabit the United States, and in hot, damp weather they thrive. Mosquito-borne West Nile virus was bad enough, but pesticide spraying poses its own health problems. Now, with the spread to 28 states of mosquitoes capable of bearing dengue fever—as noted in a new NRDC Health Issue Paper—what are we to do? Below are a variety of EPA-recommended, pesticide-free methods for keeping mosquitoes away from your home and your skin.

 

Drain stagnant water
This is the most important step you can take to reduce mosquito populations. The insects breed in standing pools of water, so check around your yard and driveway for potted plant dishes, birdbaths, puddles, blocked gutters and drains, old tires, hollow trees and anywhere else water might collect. You might even consider creating a rain garden, if stormwater drainage is an issue on your street.

Replace outdoor lights
Yellow bug lights, which now come in compact fluorescent versions, help keep flying insects away because they can’t see well in the warmer range of the spectrum (they need colder, "bluer" light to function properly).

Keep grass short
Mosquitoes rest in tall grass, which may also hide pools of water that serve as breeding grounds.

Get window screens
If your home doesn’t have them, install screens in your windows. If you do own screens, check their condition to ensure they are without holes or tears and fit snugly in your window frames.

Use citronella candles
The smoke from citronella candles can lower the number of mosquito bites, but you must remain near the candles.

Cover up
When you go outdoors during periods of mosquito activity, wear a hat, long sleeves and long pants to cover exposed skin. Mosquitoes are attracted to darker colors so you might keep more of them at bay with light-colored clothes. However, you’re better off avoiding bug-repellent clothing, which uses permethrin to disable insects but may also pose ill effects to the wearer, including headaches and nausea.

Stay indoors from dusk till dawn
If mosquitoes are thriving in your area, your best bet may be just to stay indoors when they are most active.

Use repellents when necessary

If you’re in the woods or a marshy area, the use of repellents may be unavoidable. But the most common one, DEET, can cause rashes and blisters in some people and has been associated with neurological effects such as confusion, disorientation and lethargy. Less toxic alternatives include lemon eucalyptus oil and picaridin, which have been found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have an effectiveness similar to that of DEET at comparable concentrations.

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/25689440@N06/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Comments

Great tips, I've always found that getting the leaves up before they get wet really helps a great deal with mosquito control.

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