Many folks are tempted to use any means necessary to control the annoying swarms of mosquitoes that infiltrate our yards in the heat of summer. We can get frustrated in our attempts to use the natural but seemingly inadequate citronella candles and are easily tempted by marketing messages touting conventional pesticides. These pesticides are dangerous and not just to mosquitoes.
Most commercial pesticides contain toxins that can kill beneficial insects such as bees, lady bugs, and praying mantises, and they also leave residues that run off into streams, get on pet’s paws, or on children’s shoes or feet. Many of these pesticides are considered “probable carcinogens” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some pesticides are safer than others but they all have their risks.
In the Mid-Atlantic, our mosquito problems and their related disease potential do not warrant the heavy firepower and associated scorched earth tactics of any pesticides, however annoying insects can be. Rather than spray these toxic chemicals in our yards we can choose to use natural mosquito control methods. Our wildlife, including birds, bats, and other insect-devouring creatures will certainly be grateful.
Dragonflies and damselflies are voracious mosquito hunters that frequent our property even though we don’t provide a pond for them. Our native plant gardens take credit for attracting these pretty predators: flowering plants and a vegetated habitat is a welcoming place for dragonflies to shelter and dine. Other mosquito predators such as bats, amphibians, birds and spiders are also enticed by “green” gardens.
CDC Help Control Mosquitoes that Spread Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Viruses Fact Sheet
CDC Mosquito Bite Prevention Fact Sheet
DEET Alternatives: Treehugger.com: Three Top Rated Insect Repellents that Don’t Contain Deet
National Geographic: How pesticides can actually increase mosquito numbers
Updated September 7, 2019