Along with vacation season and summer Friday season comes one not-so-welcome season to Austin—mosquito season. The uninvited guests at virtually every outdoor summer gathering, mosquitoes can take your party from yeah to meh. While eradicating a mosquito problem may not be possible—or even environmentally conscious, to be honest—there are solutions both long- and short-term to keep your premises pest-free. Check out the options below and see which one works best for you.
I’m not quite ready to commit.
When you’re hosting a get-together this summer but too busy stocking up on ice and Topo Chico to remember that mosquitoes will attack at sundown, there are some simple solutions to keep the suckers at bay for the short-term:
- Citronella: Did you know citronella is an actual plant? You can buy one for about $5 at your local home improvement store; keep it outside where you gather to fight off mosquitoes. Citronella is also popular in the form of candles, oil for Tiki torches and incense. It’s a non-toxic, effective way to keep the pesky party crashers away for the night.
- Fragrant plants: Other common plants known to repel mosquitoes include marigolds, basil, lavender, rosemary and geraniums. So when you’re decorating for that party, stop by the garden center for some natural decoration that doubles as mosquito repellant.
- Dish soap: don’t have any citronella on-hand or time to Mosquitoesexplore botany? Squirt a few drops of dish soap in a saucer and place them around like you would candles. Mosquitoes are attracted to the soap, so they leave you and your friends alone.
- Fans: mosquitoes prefer moving through still air, so strategically placing fans around your outdoor space will fend them off for the night (bonus: fans will also keep your guests from feeling like they’re trapped inside an oven).
- Nets: They’re chic in resort towns where mosquitoes take up residence, and they can be just as stylish at home when hanging from a pergola or other outdoor gathering area. Guests stay in; mosquitoes stay out.
I’m all in.
Think of long-term mosquito maintenance as an investment in your property. This is especially true in Austin, where mosquitoes are active most months of the year. Fun fact: mosquito season officially begins when the air temperature reaches 50 degrees, so there’s not much of a dormant season around here. When the candles and fans are no longer working for you, here are some long-term solutions to try:
- Mosquito fish: This will only come in handy if you happen to have an ornamental pond, but guppies, goldfish, killfish thrive on mosquito larvae and get along well with other fish like Koi, which are too large to be effective against mosquito larvae. For larger birdbaths, gambusia affinis or the “mosquito fish” is an ideal solution to warding off larvae production. They are similar in size to guppies, but a large female gambusia is capable of consuming over two hundred mosquito larvae in an hour—stock up!
- Mosquito traps: Starting around $300, a mosquito trap is a pesticide-free solution that is safe for both humans and pets. Here’s how the traps work: by converting propane into carbon dioxide and emitting a precise combination of heat and moisture—this has all be tested and patented, by the way—they draw mosquitoes into a vacuum. One trap will effectively cover about one acre of land. For more information, you can check out .
- Air curtain: This solution is a great defense if you have a pool area and children (or adults) are constantly leaving the door open from the inside to the outside. Installing an air curtain, which you can find on for around $250, separates two different temperature zones through an invisible curtain of air. In addition to sounding like something out of a science fiction movie, an air curtain also keeps pesky mosquitoes and other flying insects away (remember, mosquitoes would rather move through still air).
- Mosquito maintenance service: If constructing your own bat house or remembering the change the tank of a mosquito trap isn’t your thing, there are several companies in Austin that will handle the dirty work for you. Just keep in mind that the American Mosquito Control Association (yes, there is such a thing) does not recommend misting systems that produce chemicals harmful to the environment. Even though we hate the little buggers, mosquitoes are an important part of the food chain. Frogs and fish feast on their larvae while bats and birds rely on adult mosquitoes as part of their diet. For local environmentally-friendly mosquito solutions, check out , or .
Whatever method you chose to solve your particular mosquito dilemma, remember that removing all standing water is always the first line of defense. Think about your pets’ dishes, water features, birdbaths, planters or any other place that water may gather in your yard. Females lay their eggs on the surface water, so these places are mosquito breeding grounds. And if you’re wondering why mosquitoes are worse at night, it turns out they’re just like us (sort of)! They seek shelter from the sun during the day and start buzzing around once the sun goes down.