OMG. Someone, please invite me to join your bar trivia team. I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT MOSQUITOS NOW. I know that bar trivia topics are usually centered around things like “culture” or “history” or “things that people could reasonably be expected to know about,” but MAN. This mosquito intel is GOLDEN. Did you know they’re attracted to the CO2 and heat you give off? Or that they’re more attracted to people drinking beer? Or that only female mosquitoes bite? Or that they’re super sensitive to garlic, to the point where one researcher couldn’t get mosquitoes to bite him because he’d been eating so much Italian food? (That’s a real thing that happened in a Duke biology lab.)
On that topic: you know what else mosquitoes don’t like? EVERYTHING ON THIS LIST. Last month, we put out an ask to the EHD audience – can anyone recommend mosquito control gear that’s actually effective? – and boy, did you deliver! Today I’m highlighting just a few of our favorite effective anti-mosquito picks, from bistro lights that prevent bites (who knew those existed?) to a few landscaping solutions that’ll turn your yard into a long-term no-bug-zone. And if you just want to throw $50 bucks at the problem and have it fixed immediately…well, we’ve got a recommendation for that, too. 🙂
Our Top Pick
When you post a question on Instagram and get 16 immediate and simultaneous answers that say “Thermacell,” it’s a pretty great indication that you’ve landed on a great product. This rechargeable Thermacell E-90 protects about 300 square feet in still conditions (check out some more heavy-duty options here!) and boasts a battery life of 9 hours. You will need to stock up on refills – a 120-hour pack will run about $50 more bucks – but it’s worth it for protection that actually, you know, protects.
It’s a Thermacell…in the sky. (Full disclosure: this was actually my favorite option.) If you’re going to light your exterior, why not opt for lights that will also make you more comfortable? (And get this: you can turn off repellency when you don’t need it, so they’re totally functional year-round.) The refills are a bit expensive – $72 for 200 hours of efficacy, or about 2.5 hours/night for 90 days – but if you’re a frequent entertainer (or if you just like sitting outside and enjoying some beautiful ambient light), this is absolutely the best mosquito repellant option for you!
I love these tea lights in particular – they’re super fairly priced (cheaper than Amazon!), cream-colored (not bright yellow!) and they have a perfect 4-hour burn time. I have found that these protect a pretty tiny radius – about 3 feet – but they also look so beautiful scattered around the hardscaping of a patio or yard! It’s a great way to create a mosquito barrier that won’t break the budget.
Remember that tidbit about CO2 and heat? Fans keep the air circulating, which means less mosquito interest. There’s no need to splurge here – a box fan works just as well! – but if you’re ready to upgrade your outdoor oasis, our team is especially partial to the fans at Rejuvenation. (But whatever you do, make sure you’re only looking at options that are damp-rated and approved for covered outdoor usage!)
I gotta admit: these incense sticks are surprisingly effective. The Murphy’s smells of citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint; the Madison James is a mix of geranium, Texas cedar, clove, and some secret family ingredients. Both brands have a burn time of around 2.5 hours and both cost about a dollar per stick, too. If you have a small outdoor space (like a balcony!), just one of these will keep you comfortable all night.
Mosquito dunks are dissolving tablets to be used in any standing water. They contain a natural bacteria, found in soil, that’s fatal for mosquitos but nontoxic to other wildlife. Each tablet works for about 30 days and can treat about 100 square feet of water, so they’re a great budget buy that you can grab for under $10! (Pro tip: break your dunk into smaller pieces for treating birdbaths, troughs, and tiny ponds!)
Sprays And Stickers
Parents, rejoice!!! You no longer need to chase your kid around the house in an attempt to get them to wear bug spray! These non-woven fabric stickers are coated with all-natural oils that repel mosquitos – AND THEY ACTUALLY WORK, for up to 72 hours (though they’re markedly more effective in the first 8 hours). Simply throw a few patches on – 4 is the recommended number for kids 6 and up…including parents 🙂 – and you’ll be good to go. I was genuinely BLOWN AWAY by these.
Clean ingredients that smell like a nostalgic summer memory? SIGN ME UP. Kinfield was a new-to-me brand (thank you to those who recommended them!) and I’m so excited to pass them on – this DEET-free spray uses Indian Citronella, lemongrass, clove, and a liiiiitle bit of vanilla to keep the bugs at bay. And if the spray’s scent is too strong for your tastes, give their mosquito repellant wipes a try! (Similar ingredients, lighter scent. Perfect for stashing in the car, too!)
If the all-natural products aren’t cutting it and you’re in need of something with a bit more bite (pun intended?), this Sawyer repellant is the best picaridin (like DEET, but nontoxic) option on the market. It protects for up to 12 hours against mosquitoes and ticks and up to 8 hours against other annoying critters, like flies and gnats. The only caveat is that it can leave your skin feeling a little greasy, but it’s a small price to pay for being bite-free!
As it turns out, we can use nature in our favor! If a summer filled with gardening sounds like fun to you, be sure to plant a bit of catnip, citronella, beautyberry, lemon balm, lavender, or marigolds around any of your favorite outdoor lounge spots. They’re beautiful (win) and mosquitos HATE the way each of these plants smell (double win!). A local gardening center can help advise. (And for the record: some of these aren’t safe for pets, so do your research if you have any furry friends who like to chow down on greenery!)
Never in my wildest dreams would I have EVER anticipated seeing so many testimonials from folks who say their bat houses totally annihilated their mosquito population. And since I wasn’t going to test it out in my apartment, I guess I’ll take them for their word? I did look into it, though, and bats can eat up to 7,000 bugs per night (again, ready to join your bar trivia team anytime), so they’re an extraordinary form of natural pest control if you have the space!
After The Bite
So you heeded none of my advice and got bit. WHAT NOW? Enter: these anti-itch patches, designed to soothe inflammation and stop the scratching. (Like a zit patch, but for your body.) Buyer be warned, these are INCREDIBLY sticky (in a good way, so they’re not coming off in the shower or pool; nor will you rip them off in a moment of itch-induced mania), so they’re best used for those super big, frustrating, monster bites.
It may take a few attempts to reach full efficacy (take it from experience!) but this thing ABSOLUTELY beats using your nails to make little X marks on all your annoying bites. (Why do we literally all do that?) Bug Bite Thing does take a little workshopping – maybe you need to hold it longer, or use it on the same bite more than once – but it’s also a cheap, awesome way to get insect residue from underneath your skin. (And it isn’t just for mosquitoes – it works on bites/stings from bees, wasps, ants, and more!)
This is – no joke – the most “holy crap, we’re living in the future” product on this list. Connect the Heat It to your iPhone (Android version here!), customize your heat level and duration, and slowly warm your itch away! The best part: it’s a one-time purchase and it doesn’t require any additional batteries, so you’ll be able to treat any future bites and discomfort with ease.
That brings us to the end of our EHD-approved mosquito control gear roundup…but I’m also only one gal, so I’m sure there are some great products and methods out there that I missed! Anyone wanna share their experience or recommendations with the class? We’re all ears. Have a great (and mosquito-free) weekend 🙂 xx
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Our Backyard Evolution – The Changes I Didn’t Tell You About And How The Trees Are Doing After The 2017 Massacre