Tips for Repelling Mosquitoes Naturally

The cicadas are coming! It’s in all the newspapers and on the local news. Sure, they are pretty ugly – yes, they can make some loud noises and hangout in your trees and yard — but they don’t sting or bite. My gripe isn’t with the cicadas, it’s with those pesky mosquitoes.

There’s nothing worse than sitting outside on your deck or patio on a breezy summer night and getting chewed to pieces like something from a low budget Sci-Fi movie!

If you have a small deck, patio or balcony, consider buying a Citronella plant, also known as a Mosquito Plant. Citronella/Mosquito plants are from the geranium family and have a strong lemony scent.  Those Citronella candles that you may have used to repel mosquitoes are derived from this plant. Added bonus: Mosquito Plants also produce  lovely delicate flowers.  Also be aware that these plants should NOT be eaten by people or pets since they are toxic. 

This plant will not keep all the mosquitoes away, but might deter them enough to notice a positive difference.

You can find this plant online and in most garden centers. Here are the facts on this easy, low maintenance mosquito buster:

  • Average height 18” to 24”
  • Leafy light green leaves, will get short lived pinkish flowers when mature
  • Drought tolerant
  • Partial shade (full sun is ok in cooler areas)
  • Perennial: but NOT frost-tolerant
  • Thrives in containers (can also be planted in the ground)
  • Fast growing
  • Toxic if ingested by people or pets

ANOTHER TIP: Mosquitoes don’t like “fresh” water, so be sure to get rid of any standing water in your yard and keep your birdbaths clean. Dump out old birdbath water and refill it with fresh, clean water at least every other day. You’ll be doing your backyard birds a big favor — dirty water can spread disease and encourage gnats and mosquitos.

CLEANING BIRDBATHS: Don a pair of gloves and grab a tough sponge.  You can use blue Dawn® dishwashing liquid to clean them. Be sure to scrub the birdbath, then thoroughly rinse it out.  Do not use toxic or harmful chemicals to clean your birdbath.  You’ll know when your birdbath needs serious cleaning – it will get quite slimy.

BIRDBATH TIPS: When positioning your birdbath, pick an area that has some shade to discourage algae growth and evaporation. Also try to keep the birdbath away from shedding trees or bushes that will dump a lot of daily debris in the birdbath. Keep water at a ONE INCH DEPTH (or less) so as not to drown young birds. Also a reminder to be sure to place some stones or a rock at the bottom of your birdbath so birds can clearly see the water’s depth and have something to stand on.

If you have a high off the ground, lightweight birdbath and deer keeping knocking it down, I solved that problem by giving the deer their own bird bath.  I used only the top of a birdbath — no pedestal, and placed the birdbath top on the ground. Again, keep it to one inch or less of water so baby birds don’t drown if they visit it. Surround your ground birdbath with high grasses, flowers, etc., so birds and other small critters using it (and they will), have camouflage from predators. Since adding a birdbath directly on ground level, the deer no longer bother knocking over the higher birdbath on the pedestal.  Bonus:  Two birdbaths will attract even more wildlife.

HEAVY RAINS? Be sure to keep your empty containers upside down or on their side so no little critter or bird can drown in them. I was very disheartened to see that with our heavy rain, one of my large empty pots filled with water. Even though it had a drainage hole, it got clogged with debris. Some poor little chipmunk fell in and drowned. I was horrified – don’t let this happen to you!

WATERING CANS: Same rule applies to watering cans. Don’t keep them filled with water when not in use. If a little critter or bird falls in, they won’t be able to get out. Keep watering cans laying sideways on the ground – looks weird, but so what!

Now is the time to really enjoy your personal outdoor environment. Plant yourself some natural mosquito repellent, keep your birdbaths filled with fresh clean water – then enjoy nature’s show!

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