How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes: 8 Unusual Techniques

picture of pond with a fountain in a house

You know the usual ways to get rid of mosquitoes: spraying an insecticide and disposing of standing water. But there are some other, more unusual ways to control mosquitoes that you and the mosquito-control health department can use.

Sit back and get ready for the unusual because here it comes. 

Pumps and Waterfalls and Fountains! Oh, My!

Stagnant, shallow water invites mosquitoes to lay their eggs. So then, the trick to having water on your property – and keeping mosquito eggs out of it – is to keep the H2O moving. If you have a larger pond (e.g., a farm pond), the wind usually moves the surface water enough that you probably don’t need additional aeration.

But when you have a small pond feature (e.g., koi pond) or even a rain barrel – or plan to install one – you might want to consider adding aeration. This means adding an aerator or pump for circulation or even a fountain to help keep these little vampires from invading your yard.

Spice It Up!

garlic placed on a wood surface
Photo Credit: margouillatphotos / Canva Pro / License

A favorite spice – garlic – can be used to decrease the number of mosquitoes. When humans eat garlic, it doesn’t tend to work as a mosquito repellent. But when mosquitoes eat it? They die.

In a study conducted in Israel, the population of mosquitoes that ate garlic oil coated with special glucose collapsed after four days and then continued weakening until the end of the study. In another study, mosquito egg rafts exposed to garlic essential oil either did not hatch or died in the early larval stages.

Don’t Plant Plants

Well, there are some plants you shouldn’t plant if you want to avoid mosquitoes. The arrangement of leaves and other parts of these plants allows water to gather, providing a place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. (Mosquitoes can deposit eggs in standing water in an area as small as a bottle cap.)

Desert plants survive by collecting water. Wildflowers such as crimson columbine, cacti such as the century plant, and trees such as junipers hold water. Some bromeliads (e.g., pineapples) with their spiky leaves have “tanks” where they, too, collect water. Mosquitoes can breed in this water.

Built it and They Won’t Come

Or rather, build it right and they won’t come. If you’re building your home, a garage, or any other structure, you or your builder can do things to help prevent rain from pooling on or around your roof. This will prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in pools on the roof or where two edges come together.

Some of the principles of rain drainage can be applied to reduce the number of mosquitoes laying eggs in water along your roof. These include, but are not limited to, its slope, overlap of tiles, flashing along chimneys or other outlets (e.g., fans, skylights), and avoidance of gutters.

Goin’ Fishin’

If you have a pond, large or small, you can also stock it with fish. What will that do, besides giving you something to fish for on lazy, sunny days? Some species of fish eat mosquito larvae, which helps prevent the mosquito population from growing. Bet you didn’t know that fish could have such jobs.

Native and Other Fish

If you have a larger body of water, you’ll always want a bigger fish, just like when you’re drowning worms to catch the fish. Largemouth bass and bluegill, as well as catfish, can be good fighters on the hook, but can also be used in your pond to eat mosquito eggs.

Tropical fish can be stocked in smaller water features in your yard, but they’ll need to be transferred to an indoor aquarium before the outside temperature reaches below 54 degrees F. Tropical species can include the sailfin molly, guppies, and the least killifish. You can include goldfish and minnows too.

Mosquitofish?

picture of a mosquitofish
Photo Credit: angeluisma / Canva Pro / License

Yes, there’s a fish called a mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). It earned its moniker not by looking like a mosquito but by liking to eat the little biter’s larvae. The mosquitofish looks like a guppy, so don’t confuse the two. This fish lives in weather from 32 to 100 degrees F. The female produces live young (not eggs) three or four times in her yearlong life.

Each 2- to 3-inch-long fish eats about 100 larvae per day. They don’t need much more care, other than some rocks and plants to protect them from predators. They also need to be protected from garden sprays, chlorine, and other chemicals. Never release mosquitofish into the wild because they can become invasive.

Get Culture

The spores of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a bacterium found in soil, are deadly to mosquito, fly, and gnat larvae when eaten. Bti produces a protein that blocks the insect’s digestive system, effectively starving the larvae to death within days. It poses no risk to humans.

Many Bti products have been approved for use in various settings. It can be used in aerial spraying, via trucks spraying over lakes and ponds, and near houses wherever water collects. Mosquito dunks are one way for you to use Bti products in standing, stagnant water around your home.

SIT on It!

picture of a mosquito sitting on a skin
Aedes aegypti
Photo Credit: PongMoji / Canva Pro / License

Sterile insect technique (SIT) has used radiation to sterilize insects such as fruit flies and the screwworm fly since the 1950s. In SIT, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are sterilized then released outdoors to breed with females. Their eggs do not hatch; the mosquito population eventually decreases in the area of release.

Two other methods of SIT are used too:

  • Ae. aegypti mosquitoes become sterile when exposed to the bacterium Wolbachia, which exists in about half of insects but not in mosquitoes. Replacing Aedes albopictus’ natural Wolbachia with that from the common house mosquito (Culex pipiens) also induces sterility. 
  • When genetically modified Ae. aegypti mosquitoes mate with females from the wild, male eggs are the only ones to hatch. These males are sterile, and their mated females lay sterile eggs.

However, when sterile males are no longer released into an area, their numbers tend to slowly return to normal. The use of these techniques produces no harm to humans or other creatures.

Sentinel Chickens

Sentinel chickens! This sounds like a name for a group of cartoon superheroes, but sentinel chickens really do exist. They’re used to determine whether mosquito-borne diseases, which don’t affect the chickens, are circulating in the area. 

After a weekly or bi-weekly sample is taken from the chickens, the samples are shipped to the laboratory to be tested. If a sample tests positive for a disease (e.g., Zika virus), mosquito-control professionals, county and state health departments, and medical personnel can investigate, taking steps to prevent or control the disease in humans.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes: The “Usual” Tips

graphic for How to Control Mosquito Populations vertical
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez

Here are tried-and-true tips for keeping you and your yard bite-free:

  • Remove mosquito breeding grounds: For female mosquitoes, a capful of water is enough to start the life cycle all over again. Don’t want a mosquito-friendly habitat in your lawn? Use mosquito dunks (a bacterial larvicide) where water collects: rain barrels, fountains, or flower pot saucers. This will kill mosquitoes in the larval stage before they emerge as adults.

    For items that can be removed (toys, tires, pet water bowls), move them into a sheltered area to prevent water from collecting in the first place. This simple (and free!) tip prevents future mosquito infestations and costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time.
  • Set traps: Even after you dump all visible standing water, there may still be adult mosquitoes flying around making you miserable. Mosquito traps are another line of defense against bug bites from these pesky creatures. Prefer a homemade solution? There are also effective DIY mosquito traps you can make with items you have on hand.
  • Use mosquito netting: Ensure you and your guests can breathe easy during backyard get-togethers. The best mosquito netting ensures a bite-free environment, even during the peak of mosquito activity.
  • Wear personal repellents: No matter your efforts, a few mosquitoes may still hang around your yard. Wear a mosquito repellent with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved active ingredients, including DEET and picaridin, to prevent mosquito bites.

    If you prefer a more natural bug spray approach, the EPA has also approved IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), which are commonly used in natural mosquito repellents.
  • Cover up: If your insect repellent lotion hasn’t been seen since your last hiking excursion, fear not. Wear loosely-fitting long sleeves and pants to protect your arms and legs from pesky biters. If you’re a serious outdoors adventurer, consider buying insect-repellent clothing to protect yourself from dangerous, itchy bites. Or apply permethrin to your existing hiking clothes and gear.

FAQ

What is the Life Cycle of a Mosquito?

Mosquitoes have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Laid in water singly or in rafts, mosquito eggs hatch into larvae (called wrigglers) in a few days. The wrigglers grow, molting several times to become pupae (tumblers) that turn into adults. The females require blood to breed. This process can take as little as 4 days to a month.

Most of these adult biters don’t move more than a half mile from their breeding site. Others fly many miles away from their breeding spot, which can include standing water in your yard. These sites include, but are not limited to, toys, tires, puddles in the lawn, wheelbarrows, bird baths, gutters, tarps, and septic tanks.

Why Do Mosquitoes Exist?

Mosquitoes are pollinators, critters that carry pollen from flower to flower, allowing the plant to reproduce. Other pollinators include bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, birds, flies, and bats. 

Insects and animals pollinate at least 85% of all flowering plants, which includes food crops and other types of plants. These plants stabilize soils, clean air, supply oxygen, and support wildlife and humans. They also help the economy; in the U.S., bee pollination contributes to over $3 billion annually.

What Conditions Do Mosquitoes Cause?

Some mosquito bites become more than just bothersome and itchy. In humans, mosquitoes can cause several viral diseases, including the following:

• Cache Valley
• Chikungunya
• Dengue
• Eastern equine encephalitis
• Jamestown Canyon
• Japanese encephalitis
• La Crosse encephalitis
• Rift Valley fever
• Ross River virus disease
• St. Louis encephalitis
• West Nile
• Yellow fever
• Zika virus infection

They can also cause the following parasitic diseases:

• Dirofilariasis (dog heartworm)
• Lymphatic filariasis
• Malaria

Taken together, these conditions make mosquitoes some of the deadliest animals in the world.

Call the Experts

Even though you now know these unusual ways to control mosquitoes, you may still need help controlling mosquitoes in your own yard. Let the pros help you. Pest Gnome connects you to the best pest-control experts near you.

Main Image Credit: Acabashi / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Pat Joiner

Pat Joiner has been working with words for 35+ years. In fact, playing with words is her greatest passion. Pat despises the bugs that pester her when she spends time outdoors gardening and enjoying her patio. She lives in her little condo and has two adorable cats named Mona and da Vinci.