Least-Toxic Control of Mosquitoes Choose a different pests

Factsheet: Backyard Mosquito Managment, Least-toxic Control of Mosquitoes 


Pest type: Insects

There are more than 2,500 different species of mosquitoes in the world, 150 of which occur in the U.S. and a only small fraction of which actually transmit disease. 

Is it a problem?

Mosquitoes are linked the spread of West Nile Virus and other dieseases. However, only a small percetage of people are affected. For More information read The Truth About West Nile Virus

Pest prevention practices

Remove sources of water/moisture
Remove potential habitat
Remove clutter

Trim back overgrown vegetation. 

Wear long-sleeved, loose, light colored clothing. Mosquitoes can't bite what they can't reach!

In-Depth Information:
The primary focus of backyard mosquito management should be the elimination of standing water on your property. Seek out and drain standing water at least once per week in order to interrupt the breeding cycle. Mosquitoes can breed in drops of water the size of a dime. Be sure to check out-of-reach and obscure areas such as gutters, tires, tarps and drains. Fill holes or depressions in trees with sand, or drain after rainfall. Cutting and trimming overgrown vegetation takes away significant mosquito breeding grounds. 

Monitoring and record-keeping

Check ponds and sources of water for signs of mosquito larvae. Eggs can be laid either one at a time or in rafts and float on the surface of the water. Larve live in the water and come to the surface to breathe. 


Non-chemical and mechanical controls

Seal cracks and crevices
Repair holes
Create a barrier
Mesh screens
Remove water source: check drains, faucets and pipes
Remove standing water

Use least-toxic repellents: picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other essential oils. Reapply often. 

Sit near a fan when outdoors. Mosquitoes can only fly about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour - so they sure don't like flying to 10 mph wind! Use an ocillating fan for the best results.

Screen yourself in. Screened in porches or outdoor pop-ups are a good way to keep mosquitoes out while you enjoy the nice summer weather.

Burn citronella candles. While not the most effective means to repel mosquitoes, outdoor citronella candles can play a role in keeping mosquitoes out of your immediate vicinity when there's no wind.

The Mosquito Magnet. A machine much like a gas grill burns propane gas that sends out a plume of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide attracts mosquitoes, which are then sucked in and killed. One magnet can control adult mosquitoes over an acre of land, though different levels of success have been reported. 

For more information see Mosquito Attractants and Traps by William Quarles. 

Biological controls

Stock closed, ornamental ponds with mosquito eating fish such as minnows or bluegills. Nuture natural mosquito predators such as bats(!), birds and dragonflies, beetles, frogs and snails. Pesticide use adversely impacts these beneficals species.

Least-toxic chemical options as a last resort

  • Control mosquitoes before they hatch by using least-toxic larvacides like bacillus thuringiensis israelensis(Bti) ie. Mosquito Dunks™ , a biological larvacide that's safe for birdbaths, rain barrels, ponds, ditches, tree holes, roof gutters, unused swimming pools or wherever water collects. 
  • Horticultural oils (vegetable based) are effective in killing larvae in water and sinking egg rafts on the surface. However, they also can kill non-target organisms including some mosquito predators that breathe from the surface. 

Citronella Oil


Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus


Chemicals to Avoid

Look at your product labels and try to avoid products containing those chemicals listed below:

(A = acute health effects, C = chronic health effects, SW = surface water contaminant, GW = ground water contaminant, W = wildlife poison, B = bee poison, LT = long-range transport)

Allethrin (W, B)


Etofenprox (C, W, B)

Lindane (GW, W, B, LT)

Malathion (A, C, SW-URBAN, GW, W, B)

Methoprene (W)

Naled (A, C, GW, W, B)

Permethrin (A, C, GW, W, B)

Phenothrin (GW, W, B)

Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) (C, W)

Prallethrin (A, C, W, B)

Propoxur (W, B)

Pyrethrins (C, W, B)

Resmethrin (W, B)

Spinosad (C, W, B)

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Welcome back to Question of the Week!With summer in full swing, mosquitoes are once again becoming a persistent...

Posted by Beyond Pesticides on Friday, July 10, 2015

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