Due to our proximity to the coast, mosquitoes are some of the most frequent bugs we’ll see in our yard. While all we want to do is spend time outside with our loved ones or go on a hike at Back Bay, we’re getting bitten by mosquitoes or annoyed by their annoying buzzing. Mosquitoes aren’t just an annoying nuisance, though—they can also be dangerous. Together, we’ll investigate why mosquitoes are attracted to us, the threats they pose, and how to keep mosquitoes away.
- What Attracts Mosquitoes?
- Are Mosquitoes Dangerous?
- How to Keep Mosquitoes Away
- How to Make Homemade Mosquito Repellent
Frustratingly, mosquitoes are basically attracted to everything about us. Our diets, body temperature, blood circulation, and even our breathing can all function as a beacon for mosquitoes to turn our blood into a snack.
Why are mosquitoes attracted to me?
- Type O blood: Studies suggest that mosquitoes are more than 80% more attracted to people with O blood compared to any other blood type.
- Pregnant women: During pregnancy, the elevated body temperature and increased blood flow that women experience are particularly attractive to mosquitoes, making them up to twice as likely to bite.
- Sweat: Mosquitoes are attracted to the moisture and sodium in human sweat, making them in increased hazard on hot days.
- Potassium: A high potassium diet consisting of a heavy fruit intake can be very attractive to mosquitoes.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases body temperature, which attracts mosquitoes.
- Breathing: Yes, the very fact that we breathe makes mosquitoes love us. The CO2 that we exhale during normal breathing is very attractive to most mosquito species. Mosquitoes can detect the presence of carbon dioxide from up to 75 feet away!
- The full moon: While it doesn’t “attract” mosquitoes per se, it does increase their activity. During the full moon, mosquito activity can increase by as much as 500%, so it may be best to admire the moon from indoors.
Troublingly, mosquitoes can pose a serious threat to public health due to their ability to spread disease. It’s why local municipalities prioritize mosquito population reduction and why quality mosquito control is so important.
Mosquito-borne illnesses in Virginia include:
- West Nile Virus
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
- Chikungunya Fever
- Dengue Fever
- Zika Virus.
As a note on Zika Virus, there has never been a recorded case in Virginia, but our coastal areas are considered vulnerable as known mosquito carriers are present.
Now that we know what attracts mosquitoes, what can we do about it? With a few simple, inexpensive steps, there are plenty of DIY mosquito control options. A professional mosquito control plan is the only way to reduce the mosquito population in a given area. If you want to try other methods first, here are a few reliable ways to keep them out of your yard.
- Plant a mosquito-repelling garden: Strongly scented plants such as lavender, catnip, marigolds, rosemary, or bee balm can act as natural mosquito repellent while simultaneously attracting beneficial pollinators to your yard.
- Make a fire: Using a fire pit or a brazier is an effective way to keep mosquitoes out of a localized area. Mosquitoes don’t like smoke, so a fire will keep them away for as long as it burns.
- Run a fan: Running a fan around the seating areas in your yard can make it difficult for mosquitoes to land, thus preventing them from biting you.
- Quickly get rid of standing water in your yard to deprive mosquitoes of a place to lay their eggs.
- Keep a clean yard: Cleaning up areas of yard waste or fallen leaves deprive mosquitoes of places to escape the heat of the day and will encourage them to look for a stable home elsewhere.
- Wear lightly colored clothing: Mosquitoes have good eyesight compared to other insects. Dark clothing can make you stand out against green vegetation, making you easier to find.
- Change your outdoor lighting: Most insects, mosquitoes included, are attracted to bright light. Replacing outdoor bulbs with soft white light bulbs may entice fewer insects into your yard.
DIY mosquito repellents are easy and inexpensive to make. Understandably, many people have an aversion to the smell and feel that many brand-name use chemical insect repellents. The following alternatives can be very effective and easy for even the most sensitive noses. Better yet, these can all be made organically and with easily sourced ingredients.
Here’s how to make homemade mosquito repellent:
- Essential oils: Any strongly scented essential oils like peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, or clove mixed with a neutral oil and applied directly to your skin can be a remarkably effective, chemical-free mosquito repellent.
- Citronella: Citronella candles are a well-known mosquito repellent. These scented candles are easy to find at most hardware stores.
- Vinegar: An acidic solution like vinegar or citrus juice mixed with strong essential oils can repel mosquitoes and many other insects. The acids in vinegar can be drying to your skin, however, so we recommend applying these to lawn furniture or to high-traffic areas of your yard.
Why You Need Professional Mosquito Control
DIY backyard mosquito control can keep them at bay and can work quite well. However, they’ll never get rid of mosquitoes altogether. At Getem Services, we use specifically targeted mosquito treatments and pollinator-safe products to exterminate mosquitoes in your yard. We’ll also eliminate all potential mosquito breeding areas on your property to make sure that they can’t come back. Remember, too, that controlling mosquito populations isn’t just a way to be more comfortable outdoors—mosquito control is an investment in community health that can effectively shut down the spread of dangerous disease.