Mosquitos aren't just an outdoor nuisance -- they're a legitimate cause for health concerns. So far, 2012 has been the worst year on record for reported cases of West Nile virus in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus' season will extend into October.
Luckily, this doesn't mean you can't enjoy your outdoor area. A variety of mosquito-repelling tools in every price range can help you get rid of these pests. Make sure you can use the outdoor area you've spent so much time on for the rest of this year and the next with these effective solutions.
1. Mosquito Misting Systems
There are several mosquito misting systems, such as the MistAway Mosquito Misting System, which use insecticides to eliminate the pests from your outdoor space. Most systems are either tankless or drum-based systems that can be activated by remote control or set on a timing schedule.
The active ingredient most commonly used in these automated systems is called pyrethrin, which is derived from the extract of a certain variety of chrysanthemum flowers. There are man-made pyrethrin botanicals called "permethrin" as well, which are low in toxicity to humans and mammals.
When the system is activated, tankless mosquito misting systems mix a fresh batch of the misting formula. The homeowner can specifically program the dose rate and tailor the amount of active ingredient that's used.
The drum-based system has a 55-gallon drum made of molded plastic and a soft waterproof cover. When it's activated, an agitation cycle turns on and keeps the solution well mixed to ensure even distribution of the insecticide.
The tankless system is around $1,700, while the drum system is around $1,300.
You can have a system professionally installed by an authorized dealer, but DIYers can easily find the systems online and install one themselves.
I have the drum system in my Oklahoma backyard. Right now it is set up on a timing system and has a remote control. We set up the spray nozzles around the eaves of the house, our outdoor living areas and the pool -- sort of like a sprinkler system.
While it might sound a little weird, these things do work. My family can always tell when the misting tank is empty, because the mosquitos show up and make us miserable.
2. Air Curtains
Air curtains, like the Aloha Powerwind Air Curtain in this photo, have traditionally been used for customer entrances, drive-up windows and concession stands. Today they're often used in residential outdoor living spaces or doorways. Installation and maintenance are easy, and the curtain operates quietly.
3. Portable Traps and Systems
A less expensive option is a portable Mosquito Magnet trap. It runs on propane and batteries and lures mosquitoes into a trap. One unit covers about an acre.
These traps are supposed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It takes about seven to 10 days to see a difference and four weeks to see significant results. While this system doesn't take effect as quickly as misting systems, its portability and lower cost are huge advantages.
If you're looking for an even more affordable way to eliminate mosquitos, the ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Patio Lantern may be just the solution. Not only does it come with 12 hours of protection against pests (refills are sold separately), but it looks cute too.
4. Traditional Methods
Mosquito netting can look superstylish. Used all over the world, it can serve as a decorative outdoor curtain as well as functional mosquito protection.
Citronella candles use Cymbopogon (lemongrass) as the active ingredient. Plant it in your garden and you may get some of its insect-repelling benefits. But the oil in the plant is what repels the mosquitoes, so it needs to be released by either crushing, drying or infusing the plant into an oil or alcohol base and applying it to your skin, clothing or outdoor space.
Buying the candles themselves tends to be the most inexpensive choice available. Citronella oil or candles are widely available in decorative forms, such as this candle from Crate & Barrel.
No matter what you choose, don't let mosquitoes ruin the investment you've made in your outdoor space and the treasured time spent with friends and family.
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Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals around the world. Katherine Caviness is a contributor to Houzz.