Not only are mosquitoes annoying by virtue of their nagging presence and the itchy bites they leave but they are also potentially dangerous. Mosquitoes carry some of the most dangerous infections the world has to offer including dengue fever, malaria, West Nile River virus, and more. These are all transmitted directly to us when mosquitoes feast on our blood.
Mosquitoes, in fact, seem to be inexorably drawn to human skin and blood. It is thought that they can detect our presence through the warmth emitted by our bodies as well as by the smell of carbon dioxide and other bodily secretions. Although mosquitoes have a relatively short lifespan of two weeks to six months (depending on species and weather), they also happen to breed very rapidly.
When the conditions are favorable, the female of the species will lay hundreds of eggs within a very short period of time.
In fact, only two things are required for mosquitoes to breed:
- Water (Such as that found in streams, ponds, creeks, swimming pools, potted plants, birdbaths, fish ponds, vegetation, etc.)
- A food source (Us!)
About mosquito sprays for the yard
Cut mosquitoes off at the source by attacking the areas where they breed and lay eggs! Framed in that way, it seems like an obvious choice, doesn’t it?
There are many high-quality mosquito sprays out there nowadays which are suitable for protecting your yard from the blood-sucking pests. Some also contain ingredients that are non-toxic to humans, are environmentally safe, and leave no residue, providing minimal risk of other wildlife being affected by their application. Many of these products leave no unpleasant chemical odor behind either.
How mosquito yard sprays work?
Simply put, mosquito yard spray is sprayed over the foliage and grass in your backyard and all the mosquitoes, flies, gnats and other pests that are exposed to it are slowly killed as are their larvae and eggs. In most cases, these insecticides work by interfering with the insects' nervous system and generally do not kill on contact.
Possible mosquito sprays drawbacks
Some ingredients in mosquito sprays for the yard may be quite toxic and environmentally harmful. They are insecticides, after all. They are dangerous for beneficial insects like honeybees and butterflies as well as aquatic wildlife. Even some “non-toxic” products have had negative health effects on humans and pets. Others may be gentler on both humans and Mother Nature alike.
How to use mosquito sprays?
Choose a product
The first step of spraying your backyard for mosquitoes is to choose a suitable product. Important things to consider include its effect on the environment, and whether it is toxic for non-target species (for example, aquatic organisms, pollinators, and birds). If you have children or pets, it’s also a good idea to choose a product that is non-toxic for humans and animals. Many sprays contain chemical insecticides, but natural alternatives (such as garlic-based sprays) are also available.
Mix the product with water according to instructions
Backyard mosquito sprays usually come in a concentrated form which you’ll need to dilute with water. Some spray bottles are designed to be attached to a hose, whereas others must be mixed manually and applied using a sprayer. Read the instructions on the packaging of your chosen product carefully to find out how much water you should add and the recommended application method.
Spray your yard
Spray your backyard using long, even sweeps. It can help to walk backwards slowly as you spray. Make sure to spray any grass thoroughly and evenly, but concentrate on areas with shrubs, bushes, or heavy vegetation. Mosquitoes tend to shelter from the heat of the sun during the day and usually choose sheltered, overgrown areas when they do, so targeting these sites will kill a large number of the insects.
The active ingredients used in mosquito sprays for the yard
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: Often combined with potassium sorbate and sodium chloride, sodium lauryl sulfate is actually a common ingredient in shampoo and detergent. Typically considered non-toxic, it is a very powerful insecticide not only for mosquitoes but other pests including spiders, gnats, ants, yellowjackets, and bed bugs as well. Though it is usually not the active ingredient, it has been shown to kill mosquito larvae.
- Lambda-cyhalothrin: This is another ingredient commonly found in mosquito sprays. It is a synthetic pyrethroid, which is a class of chemicals that structurally resembles the naturally-occurring insecticide, pyrethrin, which is found in certain species of chrysanthemums. It is moderately toxic to mammals, highly toxic to fish, and mildly toxic to birds. It is also much longer-lasting than many other insecticides. In fact, it will continue to be effective against insects for about 5 weeks after the initial application. Although if it rains, you may need to reapply sooner.
- Gamma-cyhalothrin: This is another insecticide from the pyrethroid class, so it cannot be considered natural. It is considered highly toxic to mammals and aquatic organisms and moderately toxic to birds. However, it is unlikely to percolate into groundwater and does not persist in the soil.
- Permethrin: Another pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin is mildly toxic to mammals, highly toxic to aquatic organisms, and mildly toxic to birds.
- Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil makes a surprisingly effective, all-natural insecticide that will defend you not only against mosquitoes but against other biting pests as well, including ants. Non-staining and with a pleasant, refreshing aroma, this is one ingredient that is ultra-clean to use. If you want to go green with your mosquito spray, then peppermint oil is the choice for you.
- Lemongrass oil/lemon eucalyptus oil/citronella oil/cedar oil: These are some other all-natural, plant-based insecticides that you may encounter in mosquito spray products. Although all-natural and eco-friendly, they often make very effective insecticides and repellents. Some are more effective than others, with citronella’s effectiveness having been called into question of late.
When it comes to backyard mosquito control, the first and most important step is to get rid of standing water and excess vegetation. Mosquitoes breed in standing water and hide in vegetation during the day.
You should also always protect yourself when you go outside during mosquito season. This includes personal repellent lotions or sprays, long sleeves, and long pants. You can even try repellent-treated clothing.
Spraying your yard should be a last resort due to the dangers insecticide sprays pose to pollinators, birds, and aquatic life. However, if you’ve reached the point at which you think you need to spray, yard sprays can be very effective and easy to apply.
You simply take the bottle, attach it to your hose, and spray the affected areas. There is no greasy residue or unwelcome chemical odor to contend with and a few of these products also now contain ingredients that are natural and low in toxicity.
Frequently asked questions
Always check the label of your product to determine how long you should keep people and pets out of your backyard after spraying. Wait times can vary, but are usually between 6 and 24 hours.
You may be able to mix your mosquito spray with other sprays, but read the label carefully before you do so. If the instructions prohibit the mixing of the product, don’t do it.
Most mosquito sprays are rain-proof and will not be washed away or deactivated by rainfall.
Natural products are a great idea if you are concerned about the negative impact of insecticides on the environment, local wildlife, and pollinators. They may also be more suitable for families with children or pets as they are usually non-toxic.
Many mosquito sprays also kill ticks and fleas.
It is generally not recommended to eat fruits and berries that have been sprayed with insecticidal products. The flavor of the fruit may be impaired, and residual insecticides on the fruit may present a potential health hazard.
Sprays containing chemical insecticides are often harmful to other wildlife species. Many are toxic to birds, aquatic organisms, and non-target insects (such as bees and butterflies). If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of spraying for mosquitoes, shop around for a product with low toxicity or choose a natural alternative.