May is the official start of mosquito hunting season. No hunting license is required, there is no bag limit and there is no magic bullet for controlling mosquitoes. The best battle plan is to eliminate the environment where mosquitoes live and breed.
Stop the larva by eliminating standing water. Clean out your gutters so they drain properly. Keep the grass cut short and don’t over water your landscape. Treat the standing water you can’t eliminate. French drain and bubblier lines, along with rain barrels and saucers for potted plants always seem to have standing water. Treat these areas with a product called Mosquito Bits. Active ingredient is BT (bacillus thuringiensis) with the subspecies israelensis, or just call it BTI. An 8 oz. bottle sells for $13.29, 30oz for $20.09 and 6 pack of dunks for $14.69. For the more dedicated group we also have it in 2.5 gallons for $205.89.
Promote habitats for the purple martins, bats and dragonflies. They don’t eat as much as you think but every little bit helps. Plant a variety of herbs (including citronella), as most have a repellant effect. Change outside lighting from white to yellow light bulbs or lenses, as they will not attract these flying vampires. Don’t forget the citronella Tiki torches and candles. They have a small effect on mosquitoes but you will get that island feeling.
Apply sprays and granule repellents to mosquito prone areas. One of the best all-natural sprays is a product called Yardsafe by the Cedarcide folks. Others include citronella, garlic and orange oil sprays. Synthetic sprays include permethrin, cypermethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. Granulated cedar and garlic work as repellents. Permethrin granules are used as broad-spectrum insecticides. The all-natural repellant sprays will last about a day but the granules will last substantially longer. Synthetics, both liquid and granulated will last from two days to a month. Length of effectiveness for all products will hinge on the weather.
Apply repellents when outdoors. The last resort is to hose yourself down with a repellant of some sort. Products that contain cedar and marigold oils are on the all-natural side. Synthetics include Deet, permethrin and believe or it not Avon’s Skin so Soft. For better or worse, products containing Deet are the most effective.