Don't Waste Your Money: Solutions to beat mosquitos

(Toledo News Now) - This is the time of year mosquitoes start ruining our backyard cookouts, and evenings on the patio. Many of us have tried citronella candles and have lathered our families with bug repellent, but still the bugs come back.

It is mosquito season again, and with all the recent rain it could be worse than ever this summer.
With concerns about West Nile Virus, many of us are afraid to use our back decks anymore. Sure, you can cover yourself from head to toe with bug spray, but what if you want to get mosquitoes out of your yard for good?

Wants to Take His Yard Back

Butch Reed has a yard full of mosquitoes and like a lot of homeowners, he wants to take his yard back.

"You can see the woods back there, particularly in the wooded area, you get a lot of mosquitos, and we just want to be able to enjoy our yard," Reed said.

He decided to fight back. Reed ordered a $29 insect trap he saw advertised online called "My Mosquito Deleter." The box states, "The eggs go in and they don't come out."

"When they lay their eggs, the eggs are supposed to fall down into the bottom," Reed said. "And they can't get out because of the design of the baffles."

Spray Products Popular

While waiting to see the results of the mosquito trap, we stopped at ACE hardware, which sells dozens of mosquito products from bug spray and citronella candles to smoking coils you place outside.    

ACE Manager John Doucleff says any spray you cover yourself with that contains DEET is effective. Concerned about the safety of DEET? Try out Avon's Skin so Soft, sold by Avon distributors, that many people swear by.
But Doucleff says he prefers backyard sprays, such as those from Off and Cutter, that you use a few hours before a cookout. He also suggests a simple solution for patios: Set up a fan because mosquitos dislike wind.

"If you notice, on a windy day you don't get bit as much," said Doucleff.

More wind means fewer mosquitoes.

More Permanent Solutions

But what if you want to get rid of mosquitoes permanently, not just for a few hours?
We went to one of the country's top bug experts, entomologist Dr. Gene Kritsky, of Cincinnati's College of Mt. St. Joseph.

Dr. Kritsky, who enjoyed international fame a few years ago as a top Cicada expert, says the most important thing is to eliminate stagnant water.

"If you have a big heavy rainstorm followed by a heat wave where the lows don't get below 71 for a week, you will get thousands of new mosquitoes from that event," explained Kritsky.

Check Flower Pots, Gutters

If you doubt you have any standing water in your yard, and cannot think of a pond nearby, look closer. You might have a flower pot, which is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.

"Check your gutters. Check flower pots and if you have a bird bath, empty it once a week and put new water in," advised Kritsky.

Top-Rated Traps

If eliminating water still leaves your yard buggy, Consumer Reports magazine suggests a mosquito trap.

Its top-rated trap is the Mosquito Magnet, which lures bugs with carbon dioxide generated by a propane tank. It costs between $300 and $700, depending on the model.

Others that generate carbon dioxide will also work, according to the magazine.

On a budget?  The Consumer Reports says cheaper traps that do not generate gas can still have some effectiveness.

After just a week, Reed found mosquito larvae in his $29 Mosquito Deleter, indicating mosquitoes had laid their eggs in it.

"It seems to be working," Reed said.

Reed has yet to win the war, but says the Mosquito Deleter seems to be an effective start, by capturing their eggs before they hatch. Consumer Reports has not tested it, however.

The Bottom Line 
Kritsky says citronella candles and other smoking devices only work in very small areas, such as a patio table.    

For a yard full of bugs, Kritsky suggests doing the following three things:

  • Dry out all water, including gutters and flower pots.
  • Use an area spray, such as those from Cutter and Off. The versions you mount on a garden hose cover more area than aerosol cans.
  • As a last resort, purchase a trap. More expensive units that generate carbon dioxide do the best job, according to Consumer Reports.

That way you will cut down on the number of backyard mosquitos and you don't waste your money.

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