Screen tent for the whole summer
April 26, 2015 10:32 AM   Subscribe

We have apocalypse level mosquitoes where I live and I am fed up with losing so much of our outdoor summer time. Screening in our deck is NOT an option, so we're looking for ways to create a detached screen room for not a ton of money. (ie. looking to spend less than 500$)

The idea currently being tossed around is buying a high quality (whatever that is) screen tent like this. We would gravel in an area on our property and set up the tent there for the summer with the hope to be able to just leave it there all summer (unless there is a major storm or something). Because of where the screen tent would go we absolutely will have to gravel in an area OR create a proper level base (mini-deck type thing) before we'll be able to put anything down.
Possible issues with this are:
1. My husband is pretty convinced that screen tents/screen rooms don't work and that the bugs will be just as bad in there. Not sure why he feels this way, but he's fairly adamant.
2. The zipper doors to get in and out of the screen tents are such that a ton of bugs would get in every time someone entered or left the tent, thus rendering it useless. I must admit I worry about this issue myself.
3. There is question over whether we will be able to fully "seal" the tent (particularly along the periphery of the tent along the ground) to keep the bugs out.
4. Does a screen tent type thing even exist that would be suitable for this purpose?

So does anyone have any suggestions for how to solve this? Is a screen tent a stupid way of going about this? Is there some other cost effective yet effective way of solving this? (My husband wants to just buy me a big fan and have it blow on me when I'm outside, blowing away the bugs presumably. Personally I feel like there must be some way to make a little screened in shack of some sort using wood and whatnot with a gravel floor or wood floor, either way, and that a solution like that would likely weather better than a tent solution...)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think there are super high pitched noise makers out there that deter mosquitoes. Presumably they work like invisible dog fences.
posted by aniola at 10:53 AM on April 26, 2015

Sounds like an awful place. Have you looked at something like the Dynatrap? I've heard they work quite well but have not used them myself.
posted by H. Roark at 10:55 AM on April 26, 2015

We've tried all sorts of bug traps and bug deterrents and none of them have worked. I really think we are down to physical barrier methods instead of kill/deterrent methods.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know you said screening in the deck isn't an option, but could you get mosquito netting and set that up around your deck as a way to keep the mosquitos out? It's hard to say how feasible this is without knowing your deck set up, but it might be a workable solution. It's probably easiest if there's already some sort of roof/overhang over the deck, but even without that, you might be able to set up something. I did a quick GIS that might provide some inspiration.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:05 AM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Another advantage of setting this up as part of your existing deck is that if the screened area is adjacent to your house, you could enter the screened are directly from your house, and you won't have to deal with the problem of bugs getting in the way they might if you had a freestanding screened tent.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:09 AM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would also try to find a way to set up a screen house like that and put it right up against the house (or, yes, make a tunnel of mosquito netting if you need to put it a few feet away.

But, in my experience using screened gazebos or tents freestanding, the trick is to move quickly when you go in and out. I mean, even when I lived in East Texas I was rarely engulfed in an actual cloud of mosquitoes *while I was in motion*. You might bring one or two in on you (and you'll want to wear bug spray and dark clothing and all that general preventative jazz), and you might end up setting up a mosquito coil or tiki torch or something near (but safely far from) the opening at dusk on really bad days, but finding and nuking one or two inside the screen house is still far preferable to 300 of them.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:22 AM on April 26, 2015

Fans are what I use in relatively low-mosquito Los Angeles. I have to use one at shoulder height and one at calf-height, though, because they have no problem coming in low and trying to chew my knees off.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2015

Fans work. Citronella candles sort of work, depending on things like air flow.

Is there anything anti-mosquito you can do like reduce standing water and breeding populations? Get a bat house?

I don't think you need to go to any great lengths tent-wise, but I could be wrong if your skeeters are really Jurassic. There are plenty of camping-related products out there; just hit REI or local equivalent and see what you like. As my dad said about our unfinished screen porch once, "I've scientifically confirmed that 90% screening reduces the mosquitoes by 90%."
posted by dhartung at 6:18 PM on April 26, 2015

I've used tents like that my whole life, and at some truly nasty bug infested campgrounds, sometimes we'd be stuck playing gin rummy in them for days on end. They work really well at keeping bugs out, but the odd mosquito still gets in, so we tend to have a mosquito coil burning inside as well.
posted by furtive at 8:15 PM on April 26, 2015

Please post some pictures of your deck, yard, etc. and note where you're thinking about doing what. Pictures will help a lot in making suggestions that are appropriate for the space you're talking about.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:50 AM on April 27, 2015

The screen houses actually work fairly well. A mosquito or two might get in the door when you enter/exit but it's nowhere near the apocalyptic levels of annoyance of being out in the open. If you're leaving it up for several weeks or months, it is a good idea to try to seal the bottom edges with gravel or something similar. Make sure it's not at a low point in your property so the ground won't be perpetually soggy, which can allow them to breed INSIDE the tent. You can periodically spray and/or smoke the inside to bring levels down if they get bad. You might want to upgrade the stakes too. You want one that has fairly vertical walls to give you more usable standing/walking space on the inside. They're all much smaller than you think - measure them out in real life so you can see if your table & chairs will actually fit.

I'd totally get a screen house like this if it was a major problem in our backyard!

Costco sometimes has them around this time of year. They have a great return policy if it doesn't work out. This screen house at Sam's Club but you get the idea - they are much bigger and sturdier than the options on Amazon.
posted by barnone at 9:39 AM on April 27, 2015

I can vouch that a fan actually does work, provided you have a place to plug it in. I also use a Thermacell when I'm sitting on the patio or out camping, which works pretty well.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2015

If you do screen in your deck, make sure to send someone underneath the deck with a staplegun and a roll of netting, or they just fly in that way.

God, I hate mosquitoes. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 10:55 AM on April 27, 2015

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