No matter where you are in the world, if you live in a tropical climate, you have probably had to deal with mosquitoes at some point. Being off-grid doesn’t eliminate mosquito problems, but there are approaches to help reduce mosquitoes.
The best way to get rid of mosquitoes around your homestead is with simultaneous approaches that kill mosquitoes and their eggs throughout various stages of the life cycle. I do this by attracting natural predators that eat mosquitoes and reduce breeding opportunities.
Due to the short, rapid life cycle of these pests, it is important to focus on eliminating mosquitoes instead of just controlling large populations around your property. In this post, I share 12 useful tips to get rid of mosquitoes on your homestead, all specifically geared to homesteaders living in the tropics.
12 Tips To Be Mosquito-Free On The Homestead
1. Deal with open water around your homestead.
Mosquitoes love open containers of standing water. This is where they breed and lay their eggs, so one of the first steps to getting rid of mosquitoes around your homestead is to deal with open water around your property.
Now, if you have livestock such as sheep or goats, you’ve got to keep them watered. Instead of removing their sources of drinking water, make sure the water buckets or bowls are cleaned daily.
If you harvest rainwater, cover the barrels or tanks to prevent mosquitoes from gaining access. I’m sure you don’t want insects getting in your rainwater and laying eggs anyway, right?
2. Look at outdoor sources of standing water.
Standing water includes ponds or even puddles. Running streams or brooks are not ‘standing’, because the water is flowing and mosquitoes will not lay eggs there. Places to look for are puddles around the garden, or marshy areas of your property.
Dry up this water as much as you can, either providing sources of irrigation or adding soil/sand to help remove dips where water might pool.
3. Treat ponds and swimming pools to kill mosquito larvae.
If you have a big mosquito problem, then you will need to take some big steps to curb it. Ponds and swimming pools are ideal places for mosquitoes to lay and hatch their eggs.
A small step you can take is to cover your pool at night (the time mosquitoes are the most active) to help prevent them from laying eggs in the first place, but it won’t be effective if that’s all you’re doing.
You need to treat ponds, swimming pools and even rain barrels with larvicide to kill the mosquito larvae before they can grow into adults. The idea is to kill off the next generation of mosquitoes before they are mature enough to reproduce is an essential step in defeating mosquitos around your homestead.
Choose a larvicide carefully; you need to calculate the amount needed by the estimated volume of water, or the size of your swimming pool, and possibly repeat the process once a week for a month to really see a difference.
Because that’s a lot of chemicals to be using around your home, I prefer to use Mosquito Bits. This bacteria kills mosquitoes and a few other pests (like black flies) but has been found to be harmless to most mammals – including us humans!
This means it is safe to use around your family and livestock to attack your mosquito problem at the larval stage.
4. Set up bat houses to control mosquitoes.
Bats may not be my favorite of all flying creatures, but they love eating mosquitoes! A great way to reduce mosquitoes is to attract a family of bats with a bat house.
A bat house is similar to a ‘birdhouse’ – it provides a safe, dark shelter for these guys to live and sleep. As bats are nocturnal animals, you likely won’t see them throughout the day, but will notice they come out around sunset; just about the same time when mosquitoes become the most active, too.
You probably won’t even notice them on your property. They are quiet, discreet creatures and just mind their own business eating up mosquitoes. If you decide you don’t like them, just move the bat house further away to a corner of your homestead.
A bat house is not an option for those of us in Hawaii, though. Our native bat, known as ʻōpeʻapeʻa, actually nests in trees and would most likely not take up residence inside of a bat house.
Create a yard with a variety of plants and maybe theyʻll just show up!!
5. Treat your yard to kill mosquitoes.
It shouldn’t be used as your go-to approach for regular prevention, but if the mosquito problem on your homestead is really that bad, then you may need to treat your yard with pesticides.
There are very expensive mosquito fogs you can spray around your property, but if you’re going to invest in something like the Mosquito Magician (starting at $600), you might as well just hire a professional service to treat your yard.
If you are considering spraying your yard, and doing a DIY approach, I suggest that you look at using Bifen, or products containing the ingredient bifenthrin. Of course, always follow the directions.
6. Use a Mosquito Magnet.
Mosquito Magnets replicate the gas emitted by humans – carbon dioxide and the smell of human sweat (octenol) to attract and kill mosquitoes outside.
What I like about mosquito magnets:
- an outdoor option that covers large areas (up to an acre)
- many run on propane and don’t require electricity- great for us folks who live off-grid
- They do their job, which is to attract and kill as many mosquitoes as possible
Mosquito magnets are expensive, but they offer a good option for eliminating mosquitos around your homestead, so the investment may be worth it in the end. They do however have a tendency to break, so keep that in mind when thinking about purchasing.
If you’re interested in setting up a mosquito magnet for your property, look at the Bite Shield Mosquito Trap Guardian. You will need to purchase propane separately and regularly buy the octenol gas (but the first one is included) to mimic human odors, for you to get the most out of your mosquito magnet.
7. Set up Mosquito Traps.
Make some DIY mosquito traps to beat mosquitoes around your home. Mosquitoes will get stuck inside and die. My favorite easy indoor mosquito trap to use in the kitchen is a mixture of sugar, warm water and yeast. The yeast lets off a gas that attracts mosquitoes.
Simply mix a teaspoon of yeast with a cup of water and a half a spoon of sugar in a glass bowl or soda bottle and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes with a toothpick across the stretched plastic for mosquitoes to enter, but not so big that they can escape.
DIY traps that use household ingredients are safe, quick and easy, however, stay clear of UV-light traps. Mosquitoes are attracted to warmth and naturally go to light when it gets dark, but they don’t have a preference for UV lights and most of the traps on the market do not work, so please don’t waste your money.
8. Maintain a clean, manicured yard
If you’re going to extremes like spraying pesticides or using a mosquito magnet, it could all be wasted after a few weeks if you don’t have a well-trimmed yard.
These pests love shady areas with overgrown grass, so make sure to regularly mow your grass, keep vines and climbing plants in order and pay attention to the areas around trees for mosquitoes to congregate.
9. Use fans to your advantage.
Mosquitoes can only bite you if they can reach you – prevent them from getting to you by sitting and sleeping under a steady fan.
The wind created from the fan does two tasks: makes it hard for mosquitoes to reach you at all against the wind, and secondly, spreads out your scent and the carbon dioxide you breathe out, too.
10. Attract birds that eat mosquitoes.
Some of the local birds in Hawai’i that eat mosquitoes include finches, cardinals & sparrows.
Unfortunately, these are non-native bird species. The native birds are actually having a hard time with mosquitoes. They are very susceptible to mosquito borne diseases such as avian malaria.
Try finding out which natural predators are native to your location and make these birds feel at home; comfortable trees with plenty of foliage, and no cats mongering around to frighten them away.
If thatʻs not possible, then make room for the non-natives and let them get to work.
11. Plant repellant herbs.
There are many tropical plants that naturally repel mosquitoes. If you plant these densely around your home and pool areas, they will keep mosquitoes away.
They won’t kill them, so you’ll need to take other measures to reduce a big population first, but once you’ve done that, you can use plants and herbs to keep mosquitoes away.
Here are some of the top mosquito-repelling plants:
12. Use repellents outdoors
Repellants won’t defeat a mosquito population, but they can make your porch or patio more comfortable by making mosquitoes want to stay away.
No, I’m not talking about spraying DEET all around your space, I mean using natural repellants like citronella candles, cloves stuck into halves of limes and burning dried sage and rosemary.
These work just as well as chemically-laden products, are safer, and don’t cost nearly as much.
Why You Should Eliminate Mosquitoes
Other than being the most annoying creatures on planet earth, mosquitoes are actually one of the biggest vectors of disease. Mosquitoes can spread illnesses such as zika virus, malaria, West Nile, and even encephalitis, when they bite humans.
Mosquito bites are also dangerous to other animals. Dogs, birds, rabbits and horses are especially susceptible to parasites and diseases spread through mosquito bites.
The native bird population of Hawaii is being decimated by mosquito borne diseases. They need our help.
Even if they aren’t spreading a disease, mosquitoes are pests that bite humans. And the bites are itchy and irritating, if you are sensitive or have a reaction to the bites they can even be downright painful!
Understanding Mosquitoes – Why Eradication is Essential
A mosquito’s life cycle is rapid; they transform from an egg, to larvae, to a biting adult all in the matter of a week. And then at adulthood, females can start laying their own eggs and often lay as many as 100 eggs each day! It’s very easy to go from a handful of mosquitoes to literally thousands within a few weeks. This is why eradication is essential for effective control.
The best approaches to eradication are three-pronged: 1) kill eggs and larva, 2) destroy adults and 3) prevent and repel new populations.
You may need to implement these treatments or preventions over the course of several weeks to kill off any newly matured mosquitoes before you can rely on preventative methods alone.
Mosquitoes are a reality for anyone living in the tropics, but with help from nature and a few tried-and-true methods to ward off or kill adult mosquitoes, you can rid your homestead of these pests.