The Best Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Naturally

Natural, easy ways to keep mosquitoes out of your home or yard plus a homemade mosquito repellent spray to keep them away from you.

Woman scratching arms covered with mosquito bites

Spending time outdoors in warmer weather doesn’t mean you’ve got to put up with mosquito bites, even if you’re one of those people they always seem to find. There are easy steps you can take to get rid of mosquitoes in your home and lawn. Combine those with the homemade mosquito spray and steps to protect yourself from bites, and you can safely start enjoying time outside.

Mosquito Dangers

Sure, mosquito bites are itchy and unattractive. But did you know that scientists consider mosquitoes one of the most dangerous species on the planet? That’s because their bites can spread things like West Nile, Zika, malaria, and dengue fever. But even “safe” bites can lead to cellulitis, especially in kids because they tend to scratch itchy spots even when they shouldn’t. For your dog, mosquitoes bites can also lead to heartworm.

In other words, even if you aren’t someone who swells up or gets itchy after a mosquito bite, there are reasons you should still be concerned. So, read on for safe, natural, and effective ways to keep mosquitoes away from you and your family this summer.

How to Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Home

The best way to protect your home from mosquitoes is to combine physical barriers that keep them out with natural repellants that make them want to stay away. If you live in an area with cold winters, start using physical barriers to keep mosquitoes out of your home as soon as the weather begins to warm above freezing. In more temperate areas, use these methods year-round.

Screens and Doors

Screens on your windows and doors can keep out mosquitoes and other insects only if they’re in good condition. If you leave your screens up year-round, inspect them in late winter for holes caused by hail or storm debris. Ensure your screens are firmly in place, too: mosquitoes and other insects can get in through even small gaps.

Once the weather warms up, make sure your kids know to keep screens and doors shut, so mosquitoes don’t enter your home. If it’s a real problem, consider installing a magnetic screen door that automatically closes behind them. (I’ve used this one* for years.)

Netting

Floaty, sheer mosquito nets around your bed can protect you from bites while sleeping. Hang the netting over your bed and tuck it under the mattress to keep mosquitoes away. Please don’t use them for kids’ beds or infant cribs, though, since they present safety concerns.

Lights Out

Mosquitoes and other insects are attracted to light. When those lights are near your home’s entrances, you’re bound to wind up with bugs indoors, too. Even a lamp on a table near a window with a poorly-fitting screen can lure bugs inside. So, at least during the peak mosquito hours around dawn and dusk, keep the lights near your doors off to help keep bugs out of your house.

Using Fans

Mosquitoes aren’t powerful flyers, which is why you won’t usually get bit outdoors on breezy days. Using fans indoors to simulate a breeze will get rid of mosquitoes, too. Run ceiling fans on high, and make sure they’re spinning counterclockwise, so they blow air down onto sitting areas and beds. Oscillating or side-to-side fans can keep everyone in a room bite-free. If you are going in and out of a door often — during a cookout, for instance — aim a strong fan directly at the door blowing outwards to keep mosquitoes from flying into your home.

Smells Mosquitoes Don’t Like

Mosquitoes rely on their keen sense of smell to track you down based on the scent of your sweat and breath. You can use their scent-receptors to keep them away, too. Some of the smells that mosquitoes dislike include lavender, basil, rosemary, cedar, mint, catnip, tea tree, camphor, neem, and sage. Burning candles or incense containing these fragrances, or adding them to homemade air freshener spray or homemade gel air fresheners, can help keep mosquitoes out of your home.

Essential Oils and Pets

If you have pets in your home, be careful about which essential oils you use. Many essential oils are toxic for pets. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t applying the oil directly to your pet’s fur — if you spray, diffuse it in a mister, or apply it to any surface your pet walks or lies on, it’ll get into their bloodstream.

To keep your pets safe, avoid using eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus oils, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang-ylang. Consult your veterinarian about these and other essential oils you plan to use.

How to Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Yard

You can’t entirely eliminate mosquitoes outdoors, and really, you shouldn’t want to. Mosquitoes play an important role as pollinators in the garden, plus they’re a favorite food source for many creatures we do want around, like birds and frogs. But if you don’t want them feasting on you while you’re simply trying to enjoy time on your deck, read on for the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes in your yard.

Eliminate Their Breeding Grounds

Mosquitoes can breed in as few as five days. They can also reproduce in something as shallow as a bottle cap full of water. So make a point of walking through your yard and garden every few days and dump out things collecting water, like saucers under container plants and outdoor toys.

After heavy rains, you should also make sure your gutters aren’t clogged and backing up. Inspect tree stumps, puddles, and low-lying areas in your yard for standing water. Adding just a drop or two of dish soap, shampoo, or cooking oil to the water will get rid of any mosquito larvae by suffocating them.

Attract Predators

An easy, natural way to keep your lawn and garden mosquito-free is by attracting their predators. Hanging houses for birds and bats in your trees will encourage them to take up residence, and they’ll gladly feast on your mosquitoes. Frogs and turtles also love to eat mosquitoes, so establish shelters for them on the ground.

Cultivate Plants Mosquitoes Don’t Like

Landscaping with plants that mosquitoes don’t like is another way to keep them out of your yard. The plants with flowers or foliage that repel mosquitoes include marigolds, lemon balm and lemongrass, citronella, catnip, and others featuring one of the smells that mosquitoes don’t like.

Bug Lights and Zappers

There are many “bug lights” on the market, most of which feature yellow-hued bulbs. There’s nothing special about yellow light when it comes to controlling mosquitoes; it’s just that they don’t swarm to yellow LEDs the way they do incandescent bulbs. Combining yellow outdoor lighting with an electric zapper that attracts then kills them is an excellent way to keep mosquitoes away from your patio or deck.

Spray Yards Before Gatherings

Chemical pesticide sprays can kill mosquitoes, but they’re also dangerous for humans and pets too. A natural mosquito repellent like picaridin won’t kill them or put your family at risk — it will simply keep mosquitoes away for a while.

Picaridin (known as icaridin outside of the U.S.) is a synthetic compound derived from pepper plants, and it’s broadly effective against mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, and fleas. But it’s safe for you and your pets. Since picaridin is odorless and colorless, applying it to your lawn and garden before outdoor gatherings is an excellent way to get rid of mosquitoes for a while. The effect fades in roughly 8 hours, or when it rains, whichever comes first.

How to Keep Mosquitoes Away from You

Do you feel like mosquitoes bite you more than others? You may not be imagining things! Studies find that mosquitoes are particularly drawn to people with Type O blood — the most common blood type. They’re also attracted by the carbon dioxide in our breath and the smell of our sweat. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make — besides holding your breath — to make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes.

What the CDC Says

The best way to keep mosquitoes away from you is by layering several forms of protection. The CDC recommends using a mosquito repellent like DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, among others. These should be applied to skin and clothing before going outside then reapplied according to the package directions. If you’re wearing sunscreen — and you should — apply it first and then apply mosquito repellent.

If you’d rather steer clear from store-bought solutions, you can easily make a natural, homemade mosquito spray to use on yourself. However, keep in mind it should not be used if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients. Also, don’t spray it on fabrics like silk, satin, or suede, which can be damaged by water.

Colors that Mosquitoes Like and Hate

In addition to their sense of smell, mosquitoes also locate blood sources using their sense of sight, especially later in the day. At that time, dark colors like blue, black, and red are easiest for them to see. Choosing lighter-hued clothing like white, khaki, or pastels helps disguise you from mosquitoes and other insects and, since those colors help reflect the sun, you’ll stay cooler, too.

When Mosquitoes are Most Active

When it comes to staying safe from mosquitoes, bright sunlight is your friend. Most species are too fragile for strong sunshine, which can dehydrate and kill them. Instead, they hang out in cooler, sheltered spots during the day and save their greatest activity for dawn and dusk. Some species prefer night most of all–those tend to be the ones that invade our homes and buzz in our ears when we’re trying to sleep.

The Takeaway

When it comes to protecting yourself from mosquito bites, layering solutions is the best approach. Use physical and natural barriers to keep them out of your home, then take steps to get rid of them in your yard and keep them away from your outdoor seating areas. Use mosquito repellent sprays to add protection, then schedule your outdoor plans when mosquitoes are less active. With attention and a little effort, you can make it through the summer months without mosquito bites.

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7 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! These are great! We get slaughtered pretty much from March-October. At least 3/5 of us. {The other two must endure allergies, so I’d pick the blood-suckers over that any day} I also found a natural product called Swy Flotter by Kiss my Face. It’s paraben free citronella lotion. Smells great, feels awesome and moisturizes. So great for my kids that hate the other smelly/stinging bug repellents.
    Thanks for the tips HWHT! Loving the new site!

  2. Mariette's Back to Basics says:

    Dearest Katie,

    Funny, we LOVE the yellow outdoor lights and have them for decades already, in energy saving bulbs. Yellow lights soften and also look so much more romantic, besides attracting less the mosquitoes…
    Enjoy your summer!
    Mariette

  3. Lara at TwiceBlessedLife says:

    I didn’t know that about catnip! Thanks for the recipe for a homebrew repellant. The one we use now is by California Baby – it’s got citronella and rosemary and no chemicals. We haven’t really been bothered by mosquitos much this year though, because of the wonky weather earlier I think. One moment it was summerlike, and the next it was flurries of snow. I think it may have killed them off. Or I could be wrong. They may be lying in wait to ambush us 🙂

    Great post as always!

  4. Hi Katie,

    My sister and her husband swear by Madagascar vanilla. Yes, the kind you cook with. She dabs it behind her ears, on her wrists, behind her knees and ankles. She smells like a cookie and the bugs don’t bother her one bit! I’m going to try it, since up here in Massachusetts we had a pathetic-no-snow winter and have enough mosquitos to pick up my 9 month old daughter and carry her away!

    Just thought it *might* smell better than catnip/geraniums!!

    Thanks for the other ideas!!

  5. In 1579, William Langham in his “Garden of Health” book gave a method for perfuming clothes which would also act as an insect repellent.

    “Boyle it (lavender) in water and wett thy shirt in it and dry it again and weare it.”

    We’ve been fighting insects and especially mosquitoes for quite some time, huh?

  6. Nina Nelson says:

    I just went camping and decided to use it as an opportunity to test an insect repellent recipe I thought up. I brought 4 cups water, 1/4 cup yarrow flower and 1/4 cup lavender flowers to a boil and shut it off. I let it steep for an hour while I did some packing. Then I strained it into a spray bottle and added 10 drops lavender essential oil. It worked great! The nights that I remembered to put it on, I had no bites. The kids loved getting sprayed down, too.

  7. Carl Watson says:

    Very nice and informative post Katie. Everyone faces a mosquito problem and following these steps which you have mentioned in this post is really going to help in a big way.

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