Mosquitoes usually arrive in late spring, or early summer every year. However, they seem to be extremely bad, and more irritating than normal this year. The experts say the reason is the excessive rainfall we’ve experienced here in the midwest as well as those in the southeast areas of the country. Standing water is an oasis for the mosquito. They lay their eggs in stagnant water which soon hatch into those diver bombers that buzz your ears.

A few facts about mosquitoes:

  • They are attracted to humans because of the carbon dioxide we expel in our breath.
  • Mosquitoes can detect humans from over 150 feet away.
  • Only the females bite.
  • They can detect human body heat from a distance of 10 feet.

No wonder they're so pesky!

Aside from being a nuisance, mosquitoes carry many diseases, some of which can be serious or even fatal to both humans as well as animals. They are carriers of malaria, West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and canine heartworm which is fatal to untreated dogs if contracted.

Many of us are trying to eliminate chemicals from our yard and gardens because they are not healthy, and can do great harm to our pollinators. So how can we get rid of the pests without resorting to chemicals?

One method to reduce their numbers is by incorporating plants that repel them. Notice that I said repel, not kill. Despite some old wives' tales, there is not a plant available that will attract and totally eliminate the skeeter. However, by placing some of these living repellents close to your outdoor living and garden areas, the numbers of mosquitoes should drop quite significantly. You will notice that some of these plants are herbs which you can snip and use in the kitchen, as well as keeping your outdoor area comfortable. Think about planting some in hanging baskets or containers around your deck or patio.

Borrowing a line from the now-retired David Letterman here is my top 10 list of plants that repel mosquitoes:

  1. Lemon Balm
  2. Scented Geraniums
  3. Citronella Grass
  4. Catnip
  5. Basil
  6. Rosemary
  7. Garlic
  8. Lavender
  9. Marigolds
  10. Peppermint

There are also a number of yard hygiene practices you can employ to help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your property. As mentioned earlier they like to lay their eggs in stagnant water. So make sure you aren't giving them an incubator. Check these areas of your property:

  • Rain gutters should have enough slope so that water will not accumulate, but rather drain properly through the downspout.
  • Make sure that the children’s wading pools are emptied and turned upside down when not in use. Mosquitoes will lay their eggs in less than an inch of water.
  • Change the water in bird baths on a daily basis.
  • Ensure that buckets or other containers are turned over so as not to accumulate water.
  • Check canvas or vinyl covers on Bar B Qs and boats to make sure they ate pulled and secured tightly so that rain will not accumulate in depressions.
  • If you have a pond or water feature make sure the water is moving or circulating at all times.
  • Fill in any low areas in your lawn where water might accumulate.

If you have a covered patio or deck, consider installing a ceiling fan. I did this a number of years ago and it works really well. Besides keeping all insects away, it provides a nice breeze while sitting or dining outdoors.

By following these suggestions you should be able to enjoy outdoor living all summer long mostly insect free!