How to Bug Proof your Patio and Garden

A person’s backyard can be a great place to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day. It is also ideal for outdoor family gatherings or parties. Unfortunately, the presence of bugs, mosquitos in particular, can detract from any pleasure that someone might feel when outdoors. Not only are mosquitos a nuisance, but they can spread disease such as the West Nile Virus, and cause illness, in addition to discomfort. Fortunately, there are relatively simple ways to reduce the presence of mosquitos and other bugs that are near your home’s patio and yard. Some of these ways require nothing more complex than the diligence of the homeowner while others may require the purchase of additional materials.

Step One

Stagnant water is the ideal location for mosquitoes to breed in the garden and around the patio. An empty wading pool or soil depressions can quickly develop a large number of mosquitoes that overrun a yard and make it difficult to appreciate spending time outdoors. Recognize what areas on or around the pool are a problem, such as buckets, pet bowls, bird baths, garbage cans, and even pools. Empty buckets and garbage cans and when possible keep them turned over or tightly covered to prevent water from entering them in the first place. Empty water out of pet dishes daily and keep pet water bowls filled with fresh water. Swimming pools should be kept clean and properly chlorinated and water in bird baths should be changed as often as every three days. If there is an ornamental pond or pool near the deck, the addition of mosquito eating fish is a solution, as is keeping the water circulating. Any tree holes or depressions in the soil should be filled with sand or mortar to prevent water from gathering or building up.

Step Two

Rain gutters may easily become clogged with leaves and other debris fallen from trees or objects carried in by the wind. This build-up can block rain and other water from draining properly. Unfortunately, homeowners often overlook this area and, because the water is unable to properly drain, it remains stagnant in the gutter and becomes another location for mosquitoes to breed. Take time to check the gutters and to remove any obstructions that may prevent water from draining properly. Depending on the amount of leaves that fall into the gutter, clean them at least once a year. Ideally, people should check the gutters in the spring to remove any debris from the winter and they should check again in the fall to keep them clear of falling leaves. Homes with flat roofs must also be inspected for areas where water may have settled.

Step Three

Use nature as a means of killing mosquitoes by using a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis (Bti). Bti is a subspecies or strain of the microorganism Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This particular subspecies of Bt kills mosquitoes and certain types of flies specifically, and works by killing the mosquito larvae found in standing water. It has been registered with the EPA since 1983, however, it has been used for mosquito control worldwide since 1980. It is available in several forms including granules, liquid, and dust, although granules are often recommended for use when killing larvae in standing water found in tires, containers, and in areas where water cannot be removed. Larvae will eat the Bti and because it interferes with digestion, the larvae will eventually die due to infection or starvation.

Step Four

Create a breeze by placing several fans on the patio. The use of fans not only helps keep things cool, but they also help control mosquito bites. There are a number of theories as to why fans help keep mosquitoes away. The University of Washington notes that the wind stirred up by fans may make it difficult for mosquitoes to smell humans because it disperses lactic acid and carbon dioxide. They also suggest that the fans make it difficult for mosquitoes to fly and maneuver.

Step Five

Keep lawns well-groomed and irrigated. Keeping the lawn irrigated will help ensure that water does not stand for several days and become a place where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Tall grasses can help provide eggs that mosquitoes do manage to lay with shelter from the wind. Plant flowers and other plants that are known repellents such as marigolds and Thai lemon grass.

Step Six

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using yellow lights, or “bug lights” outdoors in place of regular outdoor lights. They also note that these lights do not repel mosquitoes, but are less attractive to them than “white” lights. Place yellow light bulbs that are either incandescent or fluorescent in porch lighting and in other light fixtures around the yard.

Step Seven

Purchase mosquito netting to enclose the patio and protect against mosquitoes and other biting bugs. Netting is a traditional and simple method of mosquito protection. It is possible to hang netting using a rod or hooks, and is relatively easy to install and remove. In addition, netting can also add an attractive touch to the patio. Mosquito netting may also be used to cover garden gazebos as well.