Landscaping for Mosquitoes: Repel Them the Natural Way
Mosquitoes aren't just a nuisance. They're a major public health risk.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die from so-called vector-borne illnesses—that is, the kind that mosquitoes carry—each year.
And, unfortunately, with climate change speeding up mosquito evolution at an unprecedented rate (the little beasts thrive on carbon dioxide and heat), scientists predict that the insects will flourish in the decades to come, spreading illness and inflicting misery wherever they go.
What's the environmentally responsible homeowner to do? Chemical repellents and pesticides aren't a sustainable option. Plus, they're bad for your personal health.
We've explored the ways in which eco-friendly landscaping can save you money. But are there green landscaping strategies that can protect your health, too? Strategies that don't involve the use of hard chemicals, or rely on non-sustainable practices?
Make your yard hospitable for mosquito predators
Ducks, geese, and terns
A major portion of a mosquito's life is spent in the water. It's where a pregnant mosquito momma lays her clutch of fresh eggs, and where those eggs eventually hatch and thrive.
So, given this information, it makes sense that certain waterfowl—like ducks, geese, and terns—snack on both the airborne and aquatic iterations of mosquitoes.
If you've got a reasonably-sized body of water on your property (we're talking healthy pond or small lake), you help waterfowl populations flourish by:
- Setting out logs and timber for secure spots to roost or nest
- Growing plants with high dietary value for the birds in and around the water
- Keeping the water shallow, if possible—gently sloping pond edges make it easier for the birds to enter and exit, and for the plants they love to take root
If you've got a modest body of water on your property—say, a small decorative pond, where mosquitoes are likely to breed—introducing goldfish is an effective way to control your pest problem.
If you've got a larger, fishing-sized pond or lake on your property, consider introducing bass and catfish into your water. Once they're fully grown, they'll be great for catching and cooking, too, in addition to pest control.
There are plenty of other insects in the animal kingdom that feed on mosquitoes. But perhaps the most effective are so-called "mosquito hawks"—gorgeous, jewel-toned dragonflies.
Though they mostly munch on the baby bloodsuckers during the aquatic stage of said bloodsuckers' life cycles, dragonflies are always hungry (they reportedly consume as much as 15% of their weight in lesser insects each day), and are super effective predators, so they're inevitably going to be of use to have around.
Lure them to your pond or other body of water with:
- Tall grass or other plants—dragonflies love having a high vantage point from which to survey the area for food and prospective mates
- Keep the water shallow and skimmable, no more than two feet at most; you want the dragonflies' prey to be visible from the surface, and for there to be no submerged areas for their food to escape to
- Don't raise fish—they'll eat your dragonflies!
Cultivate mosquito-repelling plants
As it turns out, plants and other organic landscaping features that humans find immensely pleasurable to smell—from lavender to lemongrass and more—are utterly repulsive and overpowering to pests like mosquitoes.
Consider planting these smelly green things around your property to dissuade that most despised of insects from hanging around for too long:
- Basil - Distribute in planters around leisure areas on your property—you'll insect-proof your recreational spaces and have a great source of seasoning for your food ready at hand!
- Geraniums - Also repels Japanese beetles (those orange-tinted ladybug imposters) and soil nematodes
- Lavender - Bouquets of this stuff, whether dried or recently picked, are great repellents
- Lemongrass - This is the stuff from which we extract citronella oil, so it's no wonder that mosquitoes can't stand it
- Marigolds - Gardeners, take note: these have been known to repel rabbits, too! Protect your veggies and your skin
And there are plenty more options where these came from.
Cedar mulch, which—in addition to offering that sharp, pungent, pest-deterring scent—is perfect for filling out the negative space in your landscaping, is supremely effective as discouraging not only mosquitoes, but a host of other pesky insects as well (including ants, cockroaches, and moths).
And, when all else fails on the deterrent front, there's always a good old-fashioned citronella torch or candle to whip out to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Ready to get started? Happy landscaping, folks!