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Mosquito-proof your yard

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 (AP)

Nothing ruins a perfect summer evening like a swarm of mosquitoes. What begins as a pleasant afternoon barbecue can quickly turn into a frantic battle of swatting and scratching as you try to fend off these buzzing bloodsuckers.

Sure, you can apply mosquito repellant, or just stay indoors, but if you actually want to use your outdoor space without constantly reaching for the bug spray, here are some ways you can make your yard mosquito-free.

It’s All In the Water

In the war on mosquitoes, standing water is the front lines. These vampiric pests like to lay their eggs on the surface of water, and they only need the barest amount. Even just a quarter of an inch of water collecting in a clogged rain gutter is enough to serve as a nursery for an entire generation of tiny, swarming monsters. So make sure you clear debris from the gutters and pick up any junk around the yard that allows water to collect and stand.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get rid of standing water, like after a heavy rain. To snuff out these mosquito breeding grounds, fill in any depressions or ditches, or any other space around your home where water tends to gather on wet days.

If you have a swimming pool, pond, birdbath or any other water feature, you can keep it mosquito free by putting down a layer of bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae, but doesn’t harm humans or animals.

Chemical Warfare

If you’ve tried draining, drying, planting and swatting, but still find yourself faced with buzzing swarms of bloodsuckers, it’s time to call in the heavy artillery.

A mosquito misting system allows you to deliver a steady stream of insecticide around your property so that the bugs never even have a chance to take over. If you’re not comfortable handling the chemicals yourself, or have a large property with a particularly intractable insect problem, call in a professional exterminator. Using top-grade insecticides and equipment better suited to fogging large areas, an exterminator can tackle your bug problem a lot faster than you can.

For smaller jobs, invest in your own insect fogger. While not as powerful as an exterminator’s equipment, these bug beaters can help you to quickly clear your yard before your guests show up for the barbecue.

A More Natural Approach

If you’d rather not blanket your property in bug-killing chemicals, you can take a more natural approach to pest control by adding plants to your yard that mosquitoes loathe. Citronella, catnip, rosemary and marigolds have all been shown to drive away mosquitoes. While they might not be as effective as harsh insecticides, these plants might give you some relief from bugs and make your garden look good, too.

If you’d like a more potent alternative to a few garden plants, pick up some citronella candles, which contain all the essential oils of the plant, but in a concentrated form to boost the bug-busting effect. While somewhat effective, these candles tend to have a limited radius, so be prepared to use plenty of them. By placing one every three or four feet around your deck you can create an effective, and natural, mosquito barrier. 

There’s an App for That

You can drive away bugs with plants, candles or chemicals, but why do that when you already have a powerful anti-mosquito shield in your pocket. With a simple app for your iPhone or Android device, your smart phone is actually capable of warding off these evil bloodsuckers. These apps use an ultrasonic sound that scares away the skeeters, leaving you bite-free. Unfortunately, it also works on dogs and cats, so if you have pets, this probably isn’t your best option.