Updated: Jun 10
Mosquitoes are one of summer’s biggest outdoor nuisances, but they are also carriers and spreaders of disease. Reports of cases of Zika, West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis—all carried by mosquitoes—make headlines each summer. And with good reason—these diseases can be deadly. This makes controlling mosquito populations far more important than creating a skeeter-free yard for outdoor enjoyment. It’s a public health imperative.
First, rover and turn it over: Eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes around your home
A big part of mosquito control is removing conditions under which they thrive. This includes moist organic material (matted leaves, for instance) and standing water. Clear tall grasses from around your yard. Get in the routine of recognizing where water can collect—dog bowls, bird baths, old tires, buckets, garden pots, tarps, rain barrels and especially children’s toys and play equipment—and empty or change the water on a regular basis. For water that can’t be routinely emptied or changed, such as a water feature, use a residential-use larvicide as directed. Foggers are a temporary mosquito control alternative, as well.
Next, use plants to keep mosquitoes away
Put the landscape around your home to work in your battle against mosquitoes. There are a number of plants whose essential oils can keep the mosquitoes away. Some of these do double duty by repelling mosquitoes and being useful culinary herbs. These skeeter-repelling plants include:
Lavender - Who doesn't love the calming scent of lavender? The pop of color for your yard is a nice touch too. Recent research suggests lavender can also remove the ability for mosquitoes to smell.
Sun required: At least 8 hours of sun
Marigolds - Marigolds just look like summer, don't they? These annuals contain Pyrethrum which is a mosquito repellent. Many mosquito sprays also include this compound too.
Sun required: At least 6 hours of sun
Bee Balm - No one can deny the beauty of the bee balm plant, and the rose balm pictured above is a staff favorite. Bee balms come in a variety of colors and sizes, great for your eye and it also keeps mosquitoes away.
Sun required: At least 8 hours or more
Scented Geraniums - Flowers come in all shapes and sizes and scents for these plants. Some smell like rose, citrus, peppermint, nutmeg and others.
Sun required: At least 7 hours or more
Citronella (aka lemon) Grass - Most likely you have the oils from this plant sitting in a tiki torch. You can grow citronella and it's just as effective for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Sun required: 6-8 hours minimum of sun
Mint - Mint is definitely a staff favorite because it doubles as a great ingredient for teas, lemonades and adult beverages. (Nothing says summer like a cold adult or virgin mojito, #AmIRight?)
Sun required: At least 6 hours or more
Rosemary - This common culinary herb is not only delicious, but effective for keeping away mosquitoes. The next time you have a cookout, take a few springs of your rosemary and put them on the grill. The aroma combined with the smoke of the grill could keep mosquitoes and flies away. It's like your own outdoor diffuser.
Sun required: At least 6-8 hours
Sage - All this talk about cooking is making us hungry. Sage is great for a pasta dish AND for pesky mosquitoes. For best results, dry your sage out and add it to your grill for a mosquito-free dining experience.
Sun required: At least 8 hours or more
Last, when to hire a professional for organic mosquito control in NJ
An organic mosquito control program could be an essential part to your lawn care regimen in the hot summer months, especially if you enjoy entertaining outside. Some areas in New Jersey are just prone to more mosquito activity, and spraying can significantly reduce the threat to you and your family. But before you go out and hire a mosquito specialist or DIY it, know that all mosquito control programs are not created equal.
The first thing you should consider is if you have dogs or children who will be walking on your grass. Organic mosquito yard sprays are made with essential oils (made from many of the same plants mentioned above!) and are just as effective of chemical treatments, without harming your health or ecosystem. If you decide to do the mosquito spraying yourself, read the labels of the products you're purchasing.