Declaring War on Mosquitoes | Know Your Enemy … Fun Facts & Some Basic Tips


With warmer weather approaching … and mosquitoes not far behind … it’s never too early to start gearing up for the battle that lies ahead. Today I’m going to share a few fun facts about mosquitoes, as well as some basic tips on how to minimize the chances of mosquitoes ruining your summertime fun. [If you don’t have time to read all my dribble … albeit helpful dribble … and you just want to get to the quick & dirty tips, jump down to the bottom of the post and you’ll find what you’re looking for.]

[Credit for featured photo above: Frank Lucifer via Compfight cc]

Fun Facts about Mosquitoes

It’s actually kinda hard to write “fun” and “mosquitoes” in the same sentence, but there are a few interesting things that I found out about the little boogers on my quest for knowledge. And some of these little tidbits are actually helpful to know to come up with a strategy to deal with them.

  • Mosquitoes have been around for over 400 million years … all the way back to the Triassic Period. So for those of you who hope that they’ll one day disappear, you may be waiting for a long time!
  • By spreading the malaria virus, mosquitoes cause more than 1,000,000 deaths a year … making them the deadliest creature on earth.
  • It’s an allergic reaction to mosquitoes’ saliva that makes you itch. They inject their saliva to do 2 things: 1. to thin your blood so it’s easier to suck; and 2. to numb your skin so that you don’t know they’re there at first. That said, I’m assuming that some unlucky folks are more allergic to mosquito spittle than others.
  • Mosquitoes find their victims by “sight”…or “smell”. I “air-quoted” because it’s not how we think of these 2 senses. They detect movement through infra-red radiation emitted by warm bodies and by certain chemicals given off by said warm bodies … namely CO2 and lactic acid.
  • Which brings me to my last … and potentially most helpful fun fact – there are some people who are more attractive targets to mosquitoes than others:
    • Active, fidgety people … they tend to give off more CO2 and lactic acid.
    • Larger people … simply because they are bigger targets and give off more of the above attractants.
    • Pregnant women … they too give off more CO2 and typically have higher temps.
    • Dark clothing.
    • People with smelly feet.
    • [Fortunately for me … I have the frame of Ichabod Crane, have and will never be with child, am not into Goth, and my feet smell like roses … although some might argue the last point.]

Basic Tips for Cutting Mosquitoes Off at Their Many Little Knees

The American Mosquito Control Association website provides some great tips on how to minimize the chances of mosquitoes spoiling your weekend festivities. And they suggest that it’s helpful to think in terms of a mosquito’s life cycle.

  • Mosquito Larvae:
    • Eliminate larval habitats: The first plan of attack should be to eliminate those places where mosquitoes lay their eggs … and that’s in water. So simply make sure there is no standing water around your home. For example:
      • Getting rid of or turning over anything that collects water … buckets, flower pots, random debris, tire swing.
      • Making sure that tarps and other covers are arranged so that they drain appropriately (e.g., boat, pool, and grill covers).
      • Making sure that your gutters drain well … which means removing any debris and ensuring that they run toward a downspout.
      • Ensuring that all faucets/hoses are turned completely off and that your air conditioning unit is draining appropriately (i.e., not pooling).
      • Changing out the water of those things that are meant to hold water every couple of days … pet dishes, birdbaths, etc.
      • Making sure that the water in your water features is always moving.
      • Filling or draining “natural holes” … ditches, low areas in your lawn, puddles, and tree holes.
    • Apply larvicides: If you have bodies of water on your property, use insecticides (if you’re so inclined) that are targeted to kill eggs or immature skeeters (i.e., larvicides):
      • We’re primarily talking about ponds, creeks, and large ditches that don’t or can’t be drained.
      • And since larvae aren’t typically floating in the middle of a body of water, you really only need to treat the shoreline where they usually are.
  • Adult Mosquitoes: Unfortunately you’ll never be able to eliminate or treat all the larval habitats on your property, so you’ll also need to address adult mosquitoes. Besides, since mosquitoes can fly one to two miles from their breeding grounds you’ll always have mosquitoes flying into your home’s airspace from your neighbors’. That said, you want to do your darndest to minimize the concentration of skeeters near your outdoor spaces.
    • Use adulticides: Adulticides are insecticides designed to kill adult mosquitoes. Again, use only if you are so inclined.
      • You can use foggers to get temporary relief from flying mosquitoes. So this would be a good option just before an outdoor event.
      • You can kill mosquitoes hanging out in trees and shrubs by spraying insecticide on their lower limbs … some sprayers can be attached to your hose to extend your reach.
      • Regardless of what type of insecticide you use, always check the label to make sure that you are appropriately and safely applying it.
    • Trap or zap the little suckers: Another way to potentially combat adult mosquitoes is by zapping or trapping them.
      • Both zappers and traps attempt to attract mosquitoes by mimicking what they are drawn to … light, heat, CO2, etc. And once they are on or in the device they are either killed or trapped.
      • Unfortunately neither method has been proven to help that much and some can be quite expensive.
    • Use repellants: As the word suggests, repellants are used to repel (i.e., not kill) mosquitoes from your body or outdoor space.
      • The most effective repellants are those that are applied directly to the body in the form of lotion, aerosols, solid stick, liquid, or pump sprays.
      • Historically, DEET is known to be the most effective active ingredient in insect repellant, but there are others … so read the labels. And while reading the labels, make sure you don’t get one that contains more than 50% DEET … and that you understand how best to apply it (e.g., not near your eyes or on kids’ hands so they don’t rub their mouths and eyes).
      • If you’re not into slathering yourself with chemicals, there are some natural options using essential oils … like the recipe from one of Britt’s posts. But note, they typically aren’t as effective as the chemical-ridden alternatives. So your choice … mosquito bites or … well, I’ll let you fill in the blank.
      • There are also repellants that contain permethrin … but they are not to be applied to the skin, but rather to clothing and outdoor gear. Again, make sure you read the label before applying anything to your skin.
      • Although not considered as effective as the repellants referenced above, you can also use candles or torches that contain citronella oil to make skeeters skedaddle from your outdoor spaces … as they produce a vapor that repels them. That said, some sources suggest that it’s actually the smoke that deters mosquitoes the most. But if I’m buying something for the purpose repelling mosquitoes, I’m gonna go with what is suggested as having even the slightest advantage. Besides, I like the smell of citronella.
Declaring War on Mosquitoes - Redeem Your Ground |

[Photo Credit: Frank Lucifer via Compfight cc]

    • Dress for the occasion: Perhaps the easiest way to reduce your chances of being bitten by mo’skeeters is to dress appropriately.
      • Data shows that lighter colored clothes attract fewer mosquitoes.
      • Cover up as much skin as is comfortably possible.
    • Consider your plants: There are a few of things to consider with regards to the plants in your yard as well.
      • Plants like English Ivy and other dense ground covers that hold water on or under their leaves create a haven for mosquitoes. So avoid them if you can.
      • Alternatively, you can also choose plants that are known to repel mosquitoes (e.g., citronella, lemon balm, marigolds, lavender, and geraniums). But my belief is you’d practically have to roll around in a field of said plants and stay there for them to make that much of a difference. That said, I include some of these plants in my landscape for the potential value they’ll provide against skeeters, but I primarily choose them because they’re attractive and smell nice.
      • Mosquitoes like to perch on plants while they’re taking their breaks from sucking your blood … so keep the vegetation around your home well maintained (e.g., mowing your lawn, eliminating weeds … especially from around the foundation of your home, keeping your trees and shrubs from getting too jungle-like, etc.).
    • Keep the air flowing: Mosquitoes don’t like wind … it makes it difficult for them to fly around. So …
      • Another reason to keep your trees and shrubs in shape is to ensure better airflow throughout your outdoor spaces. Additional airflow with also help dry things out.
      • On porches and pergolas, consider installing an overhead fan … or if you’re hosting an event, discreetly place a box or oscillating fan nearby.

Declaring War on Mosquitoes - Redeem Your Ground |

That’s a ton of information … I know. But I figured, if you’re really serious about combating mosquitoes you need as much anti-mosquito goodie as possible. That said, if you want the Cliff’s Notes version, click here or on the handy-dandy image to the right.

Regardless, I hope you’ve found this helpful as you consider which weapon … or weapons … you’re going to use as you too declare war on mosquitoes.

Lastly, if you want to create your very own tiki torches made from recycled wine bottles, check out this post.

Take care my friends,
Doug signature




(Resources: American Mosquito Control Association, eHow, Natural Living Ideas, the city of Bowie, MD, Good Housekeeping, and PR Newswire)

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  1. April Hambrick on July 19, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Doug. Wondering if you still have a bat house and your experience in how effective, or ineffective, it is for helping with mosquito populations?

    • Doug Scott on July 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      April…thanks for your comment and for REMINDING me that I had a bat house. Clearly, that says something…but more about where I placed our bat house vs. how effective bats could be in decreasing the mosquito population. I minimized the importance of the location of my bat house and have had nary a one. I’m still determined to have a functional bat house…and will let you know what I learn when I do. But let me know what you learn if you do it first! Thanks D.

  2. Kirsten on July 23, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Hi, Doug! Thanks for the info. We’ve hesitated to spray for mosquitos because we don’t want to eliminate helpful insects along with them. We’re especially concerned about bees, given that they seem to be struggling already. Have anything to add about bee-friendly ways to kill adults? (mosquitos, that is) And we’re eager to hear how the bat thing goes, too!


    • Doug Scott on July 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Hey Kirsten…good to hear from you. So here’s what is advertised…that insecticides won’t kill the beneficial insects. And that MAY be true; however, the last time we gave our back yard a good insecticide spraying, we noticed a decrease in the number of the friendly bugs. Now that may have been coincidental…but we’ve stopped using that approach. Instead we’ve gone with more of a localized repellent approach. Oh…and if we jump back into the bat arena, we’ll let you know how it goes. Take care, D.

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