A winter that wasn't as cold as it should have been combined with a warm, wet spring has created a “perfect storm” this summer for mosquitoes, ticks and other insects.
NDS, Inc., a leading manufacturer of stormwater management and drainage products, encourages all homeowners to be proactive about standing water on their properties so they don’t run the risk of having their yards, gardens and landscapes become breeding grounds for mosquitoes this summer.
“As summer arrives and temperatures heat up, the single most effective thing a homeowner can do to minimize the presence of mosquitoes is eliminate standing water wherever it occurs,” Ryan Larsen, a civil engineer at NDS, said. He is also known as “Dr. Drainage” in NDS’s YouTube instructional video series about how to properly use and install stormwater and drainage products. “Mosquitoes love standing water and it doesn’t take much water for mosquitoes to lay their eggs — it only takes as little as a thimble full of water. Your yard can quickly accumulate a good amount of still, stagnant water, from watering your yard and plants to those sporadic summer downpours.”
The National Pest Management Association’s annual “bug barometer,” which is based on past and current weather patterns forecasts, projects this summer will be especially bad for mosquitoes and ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it only takes one week for standing water to turn in to a breeding habitat for mosquitoes. These biting pests are not only a nuisance, they can also transmit dangerous diseases, like malaria, West Nile virus, heartworms and Zika virus.
To assist homeowners, Larsen, aka Dr. Drainage, offers nine low-cost ways to reduce the presence of mosquitoes in outdoor spaces this summer:
1. Eliminate standing water around your home
First and foremost, eliminating standing water in your yard wherever it occurs is one of the most important things you can do. Your yard can quickly accumulate a good amount of still, stagnant water, from watering your yard and plants to those sporadic summer downpours, and it’s the perfect environment for insects. This is why it’s important to keep gutters clear of debris; check at least once a week for any discarded cans, buckets, pots, overturned children’s toys and anything that can hold water; cover trash containers; change water in outdoor pet dishes daily; and change water in bird baths several times a week.
2. Move potted plants indoors
Speaking of standing water, potted plants also tend to fill up with excess water, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. So, remove potted plants from your yard and keep them indoors during the muggy summer months.
3. Place herbs and scented oils around your backyard
Certain plant herbs and essential oils can naturally repel mosquitoes. For instance, the scents of citronella, lemongrass and chrysanthemum, are non-toxic and keep mosquitoes at bay. Scented oils and candles placed on your outdoor tables will keep any bugs away from food, not to mention provide some evening ambiance. These products can be found at many home improvement or outdoor furniture and garden stores.
4. Scatter coffee grounds
A simple at-home solution for mosquito repellent is coffee grounds. All you need to do is sprinkle coffee grounds wherever you discover standing water in your yard. Any mosquito eggs present will be forced to rise to the surface and be deprived of oxygen. This will kill any mosquitoes before they hatch and will prevent them from breeding further.
5. Grow insect-repellent plants
Discourage flies with plants like lemon balm, mint, chrysanthemums, marigolds, basil, garlic, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and more. Luckily, these herbs and plants are loathed by mosquitos, but quite pleasant to look at and smell for us humans!
6. Install a drain in planter boxes
If you want to keep your beautiful flowers outside for all to see, consider using a drainage solution in planter boxes like a catch basin connected to a drainage pipe. Excess water enters the basin through a raised atrium grate, which prevents leaves, mulch and other debris from entering the system, and connects to a drain pipe where the water can drain to a safe location.
7. Install insect-repelling lights around your yard
Consider installing mosquito-repelling lights, such as sodium lamps, yellow bug lights or LED lights in your backyard to deter those irritating buggers away from your mouth-watering hot dogs. All-in-one outdoor lighting and mosquito repellent fixtures can be purchased at several home goods stores and large retailers.
8. Hire a professional to spray your yard with an organic treatment
Using an insect-controlling yard spray is an effective way to get rid of mosquitoes. However, many sprays contain toxic chemicals that can harm your health and the health of the environment. Nontoxic bug control solutions can work wonders and will kill off fleas, ticks and other insects, while not harming the family pet! Choose products labeled natural or organic and pet friendly, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely.
9. Install a French drain
Another common solution for eliminating standing water around your home is with drainage solutions that can be purchased at your local home improvement or hardware store. A French drain is a popular choice, which consists of a slightly sloped trench filled with gravel surrounding a perforated pipe. It provides an easy channel for water to flow through, collecting water over the entire length of the drain instead of one particular spot and redirecting the surface and ground water away from your home. This NDS French Drain is a simple solution that cuts installation time in half by eliminating the need to shovel and move heavy gravel or rocks. For more information about how to spot and fix the 8 most common homeowner drainage problems, visit NDS’s Home Drainage Center.