The best mosquito repellent ideas for your yard

How to turn your yard into a bug-free paradise

by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Swarm of mosquitoes in a backyard

Backyard blues

Nothing ruins a good time outdoors like a swarm of mosquitoes. In addition to painful, itchy bites, mosquitos can carry diseases like Zika, malaria, West Nile virus and yellow fever. Though infection is relatively rare, it make sense to take precautions against bites for both health and comfort.

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your favorite outdoor activities. Take these five steps to make sure they don’t overrun your favorite outdoor space.

Backyard pond with lily pads

Step 1: Eliminate standing water

Mosquitoes use standing water as their breeding ground, and females can lay more than 100 eggs per batch. What’s more, those eggs hatch in just 24 to 48 hours, and will be fully mature mosquitos within about two weeks.

Mosquitos can’t breed or survive without standing water, so your best line of defense is a dry, clean yard. Throw out water that’s collected in flower pots, cover your rain barrels if you have them and drain the water from your gutters and splash blocks.

If you have a pool, you’ll need to be diligent with cleanliness and water treatment to keep it unfriendly to mosquito larvae.

Colored fish in a pond

Step 2: Stock your pond with natural predators

If you have standing water in your backyard that you can’t get rid of, like a decorative pond, introduce a few natural predators. Many kinds of fish are great at killing off mosquitoes.

One species of fish is so known for killing mosquitoes that they’re named after them: Gambusia affinis, the mosquitofish. These small fish eat the mosquito larvae that females lay in standing water. Plus, they eat algae and other bug larvae that may get birthed in your backyard.

Goldfish and fathead minnows also eat mosquito larvae. If you have a pond in your yard, stock them with these species to keep it clean.

Black outdoor ceiling fan

Step 3: Choose fans over decorative repellents

When hosting a backyard shindig, tiki torches or mosquito-repellent candles might sound like a great way to add ambiance and keep mosquitoes at bay. However, the effectiveness of these decorative mosquito repellents is debateable. While citronella does repel mosquitoes, it does so at a much lower rate, and for less time, than other repellents.

Instead, focus on air circulation by installing fans outside. Mosquitoes are light, and a breeze will knock them off course. Plus, the wind can move body odors around, helping you avoid detection by the mosquitoes in the first place.

Mosquito with nature background

Step 4: Make a DIY mosquito trap

You can make your own mosquito trap with a few simple ingredients. All you’ll need is an empty two-liter bottle, scissors, a packet of yeast, some brown sugar, a measuring cup of warm water and some tape.

  • Cut the bottle in half.

  • Combine the cup of warm water, a few spoonfuls of brown sugar and the packet of yeast, and pour into the bottom half.

  • Take the top half and stick it upside-down into the bottom half, so that it forms a funnel into your sugar/yeast/water mixture.

  • Tape the two pieces together, and you’ve got a trap.

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which the yeast produces as it consumes the sugar. Once they fly into the funnel, they won’t be able to find the small exit. Be sure and change this trap every week or so, as the yeast will eat up all the sugar and stop producing carbon dioxide.

Place as many of these as you think are needed around your patio or backyard. You can even use some inside your house if you’ve noticed a couple mosquitos flying around.

Person spraying mosquito repellent

Step 5: Apply repellent

If the above steps don’t stop you from getting bit, treat your skin in addition to your yard.  

DEET-based repellents: Of all the repellents on the market, DEET is the most rigorously tested for human use and the most widely used in typical mosquito repellents. Studies suggest that it keeps mosquitoes away far better than the alternatives.

Essential oils: The oils of turmeric, palmarosa or kaffir lime applied to the skin can provide protection from mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. Turmeric has a spicy bitter smell, while the scents of palmarosa and kaffir lime are more floral and light. Adding some vanilla extract should help this natural repellent last longer. These can be found at most natural grocery stores, and will likely be more expensive than DEET-based repellants.

Person spraying bushes for mosquitoes


If your yard is cursed with mosquitoes, it’s quite easy to lift the spell. Just one night free of mosquitoes can turn your backyard from a hunting ground into a paradise. Use these proactive tactics to help your yard live up to its true potential.

If you live in a marshy area or have a severe mosquito problem, don’t be afraid to call the professionals. A well-qualified pest exterminator can get your mosquito population under control so you can use these methods successfully.

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by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As part of the Consumer Affairs Research Team, Zack Reeves creates content that helps consumers make important decisions. He parses through fine details to present buyers with all the information they need to improve their lives.