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How to Wage War on Mosquitoes

Get rid of those disease-carrying pests this summer.

By Gwendolyn Knapp April 24, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Now that we’re full throttle into mosquito season, it’s time to take matters into our own hands and reclaim our backyards and front porches. But how? First, clear your yard of standing water, where these needle-nosed, disease-carrying insects breed, as well as debris piles, where they lurk. Then decide on your second method of attack:

Mosquito Dunks

  • Advantages: These insecticide pellets kill larvae in planters and pots.
  • Disadvantages: Won't kill mosquitoes flying around in your face.
  • Safe for Pets? Yes. Doesn't harm cats, dogs, fish, or birds.
  • Cost: $5 to $10 for a six-pack
  • Lasts For: One month


  • Advantages: Aerosol and thermal foggers get rid of mosquitoes just long enough for your backyard piñata beating.
  • Disadvantages: It's temporary. Also, foggers kill butterflies and bees.
  • Safe for Pets? Sort of. The fumes can be harmful.
  • Cost: $70 to $200
  • Lasts For: 24 hours
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Image: Shutterstock

Residual Sprays

  • Advantages: Regularly spraying these insecticides leaves residue on plants, killing mosquitoes on the
  • Disadvantages: Mosquitoes may grow resistant, and the insecticides will kill butterflies, pollinators, and other good insects.
  • Safe for Pets? Yes, but don't spray it near them.
  • Cost: $20 to $100
  • Lasts For: One month

Professional Mister Installation

  • Advantages: Backyard misting systems are set up and maintained by pest-control pros
  • Disadvantages: Daytime use can harm good insects, and mosquitoes may grow resistant.
  • Safe for Pets? Yes, and it kills ticks, too.
  • Cost: $1,500 to $15,000, depending on size of yard
  • Lasts For: Potentially forever, if you get the lifetime warranty

Professional Barrier Spray

  • Advantages: Professional mosquito assassins armed with backpack sprayers
  • Disadvantages: Can be harmful to good insects
  • Safe for Pets? Yes.
  • Cost: $60 to $100 per treatment
  • Lasts For: Three weeks to a month 
Essential oil bug spray xcjcwr

Image: Shutterstock

Essential Oil Bug Sprays

  • Advantages: Lavender, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and other essential oils repel mosquitoes while you do sunrise patio yoga.
  • Disadvantages: Some mixtures shouldn't be worn on the skin. And mosquitoes may bite you anyway.
  • Safe for Pets? Some are fine, some are not.
  • Cost: $7.99 for Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent; essential oil costs vary.
  • Lasts For: A few hours max

Mosquito Trap

  • Advantages: Carbon dioxide-emitting traps attract and kill mosquitoes.
  • Disadvantages: Effectiveness depends on wind direction and mosquito trickery.
  • Safe for Pets? Yes.
  • Cost: $20 to $800
  • Lasts For: Months to years; empty trap every two weeks.
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