Warm weather has a way of creeping into our thoughts overnight, leaving us dreaming of late evenings in the yard with good food, friends, and conversation. When that dream becomes reality, however, it doesn't take long before we wonder what we were thinking. When the sun gets low and the insects begin to see us as their own private banquet table, we'll find ourselves packing up all our goods to take the party indoors.
If you love to enjoy your backyard, front porch, or patio in the summer you know exactly what I’m talking about. But you don't have to be run off your property in dramatic fashion each evening. In fact, with a few basic tips, and some well-placed plants, you can take advantage of your outdoor living space for as long as you want.
Where Mosquitoes Live
First off, to help deter mosquitoes from your property, consider restricting their habitat. An afternoon caring for your yard can drastically lower the mosquito population in your immediate area. This doesn't mean they won’t come from elsewhere, but at least you know you aren’t contributing to their population growth. Mosquitos breed in standing fresh water, so be sure to change out any animal water bowls you may have out regularly and remove containers that may hold rainwater- or at the very least dump them out after each rain.
Mosquitos also like to hang out in damp grasses and plants as adults during the day where they are protected from the sun and heat. Keeping your lawn and weeds down significantly reduces where they can hang out, and a good weed eater can be worth its weight in gold. The best weed eaters are easy to store and use quickly when needed.
What Mosquitoes are Attracted To
We all know that one person that mosquitoes seem to avoid and also that other person they seem to swarm. Female mosquitoes need your blood in order to lay their eggs and may find certain chemicals your body emits to be more attractive than the person next to you. Certain blood types, as well as people who look and feel warmer, may also be targeted. How much CO2 you have coming off of you can also be a factor, since the blood-sucking insects actually use that to locate their next meal.
Using a bug repellent should be a consideration just about every time you are outdoors and know you will be exposed to any sort of biting insect. Not only for your own comfort and relief but because biting insects can also carry diseases. Loose clothing that does not retain heat, and long sleeves or pants obviously are a deterrent as well if temperatures dictate you won't overheat by wearing them.
Some people may not be aware of this, but plants can be an amazing deterrent to certain biting insects- mosquitoes included. If you plan on taking advantage of your yard regularly, you probably already have a great plan pertaining to your landscaping design for your visual enjoyment. Consider adding is a few choice plants to your yard, paying particular attention to the areas where you spend the most time. Plants can be placed into existing garden beds, or even planted in colorful, unique pots and planters.
Some plants you may want to consider are:
- Lemon balm, lemongrass, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint are considered some of the best perennial deterrents you can plant. These work beautifully spread throughout your gardens, or within planters.
You may have to winterize some of them depending on your growing zone, plus anything from the mint family (balms and mints) should be kept in a planter to keep them from becoming invasive.
- Lemon Verbena, Cinnamon Basil, Pennyroyal, Floss Flowers, and Marigolds are popular annuals that add a pop of color and/or texture to your gardens and are highly aromatic. These help keep biting insects at bay and look good as well!
- If you like the idea of adding a little shade to your yard, there are some larger trees you can consider. Some of these are definitely dependent on winter hardiness, but almost all can be cultivated and brought indoors in the winter if grown in large pots. These include Clove Trees, Cadaga Trees or Eucalyptus, and Incense Cedar.
So you see, there is no need to run indoors as the sun lowers each evening. With a little bit of care and attention to your yard, you can enjoy your late evenings fairly bug-free. You may not be able to get rid of them completely all the time, but a few extra plants will help keep them from thinking your yard is an ideal place to hang out in.
Written for Cliff Original by Tim Moore of Backyard Boss