Help me perpetrate a mosquito holocaust.
July 31, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

How can I get rid of the swarms of mosquitos in my backyard?

I live in downtown Baltimore, so you wouldn't think I'd have a mosquito problem. But every time I go outside in the evening to take out the trash or do some weeding, I get swarmed.

My yard backs onto a concrete alley and most of the surrounding yards are mostly concrete. My yard is about 14'x20' and approximately half is covered by my garden. There aren't any obvious pools of standing water in the alley or adjacent yards, but I imagine the mulch in the garden would give them a dark, moist place to hide. I also have a compost bin that consists of an old garbage can with holes drilled in it. I don't know if that would have any effect or not.

I tried the DIY mosquito trap and all it caught was fruitflies. I'd prefer not to buy the $250 propane mosquito trap and foggers are probably out because I don't want to kill off my beehive, but I'm open to suggestions.

So, any ideas? My ankles can't take it anymore.
posted by electroboy to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
No advice, just commiseration. I'm in a very similar situation: Capitol Hill, DC, concrete alley, concrete neighboring yards, tons of moquitoes. I suspect the compost pile does contribute to your problem--you could stir in some mosquito granules (they're the same thing as mosquito dunks, just in a dfferent format). We just keep a bottle of repellent near the garden, and spray our ankles every time we go out.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2007

Get a bat house. A few bats will make keep the mosquito population in check.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2007

I know you say you haven't found any obvious pools of standing water, but finding their breeding ground really is the key to solving your problem. Have you checked the less obvious places? Gutters that don't drain completely, for example, are a common problem.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:03 AM on July 31, 2007

Response by poster: Will bats inhabit a house in the city? I thought it might be too bright for them, but most of my bat knowledge comes from teevee.
posted by electroboy at 10:04 AM on July 31, 2007

Attract bats, toads, and mosquito-eating birds to your yard - this is the best way, if you can do it. Bone up on what kinds of birds like to eat mosquitoes, and plant the things they like to eat (or get bird seed) and plant the shrubs they like to nest and hide in. Also get a bat house and follow the directions on where to place it. All you have to do is occasionally clean up bird poo and bat guano and you're all set. Bats can eat up to 500 mosquitoes a night, and birds aren't far behind. The birds that love to eat 'em up best are bluebirds and purple martins but there are others - google it. I just saw a purple martin eat 3 mosquitoes today on my lunch break. They swoop down from roofs and swallow them without skipping a beat - it's fun to watch.

Your compost pile and your mulch are harboring mosquitoes...yes.
posted by iconomy at 10:05 AM on July 31, 2007

I have had solid luck with something called Dr. T's Gnat Scat which is just garlic, wintergreen oil, lemongrass and clay powder. We call it "Italian Restaurant" since that's what it smells like. You just sprinkle it on the ground and it works well.

For what it's worth, I posted my full mosquito annihilation recipe here a while ago. Good luck.
posted by Overzealous at 10:08 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh and the toads eat a lot of mosquitoes, but also love water, so if you get any toads, you need to have some kind of circulating water thingamabob. We have a large bowl that sits on the ground with water pumping through it - you don't need a water hook-up, just electricity. Mosquitoes don't like moving water, but the toad we somehow inherited loves it, and the birds brave enough to come to the ground drink from it.

I may be suggesting things that are too much trouble to you, but this kind of thing is a hobby of mine, so I see it as entertainment and sport to try and attract certain creatures to come to me as I lure them with goodies.
posted by iconomy at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2007

Bat boxes might attract some bats which eat lots and lots of bugs every night. Also, you might talk to the department of public health or your alderman about having the neighborhood sprayed. Ever since West Nile became an issue most communities have become far more vigilant in mosquito control.
posted by caddis at 10:17 AM on July 31, 2007

Seconding bats and Purple Martins. Though according to the information at your yard is probably too small to attract any Purple Martins. Bats, on the other hand seem relatively easy to attract and house.
posted by clockwork at 10:17 AM on July 31, 2007

Can one order Dragonfly eggs via the internet?


No, it doesn't appear that you can. But you can get Damselfly Larvae, which is just as good.

Fight back! If the skeeters are as bad as you claim, these Damselflys should take them out.
posted by unixrat at 10:27 AM on July 31, 2007

I know you said you don't want to fog because of your bees, but could you spray just around the compost pile?

Pyrethrin and its close relatives seem to be the preferred killers, and safe for use around humans, food, and animals. It's listed on Wikipedia as "Relatively Non-Toxic" to bees, at least compared to Malathion or other organophosphates, which is probably what you're going to get if you request spraying from your local municipal government.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:42 AM on July 31, 2007

Chances are, if there are no obvious sources of standing water around, that the mosquitoes are breading in the storm sewers near your house. You could try dropping something like this in the storm drains around your house.
posted by 517 at 11:11 AM on July 31, 2007

or they might be breeding instead.
posted by 517 at 11:12 AM on July 31, 2007

Get 'em where they bite. Why not spray yourself down with a deet based repellent when you go out for an extended amount of time? That way you'll save your bees and yourself.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:14 AM on July 31, 2007

Also a thumbs up on bat houses.

For acute relief, if you are suffering living with them, I often burn citronella candles, which you can buy at most hardware or outdoors stores by the bucket. They are pretty good if you are close by, but they have their limitations.
posted by salishsea at 11:32 AM on July 31, 2007

You might want to give a Skeeter Bag a shot.
posted by ssmith at 11:42 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: From

Martins are not, however, prodigious consumers of mosquitoes as is so often claimed by companies that manufacture martin housing. An intensive 7-year diet study conducted at PMCA headquarters in Edinboro, PA, failed to find a single mosquito among the 500 diet samples collected from parent martins bringing beakfuls of insects to their young.

So purple martins might not be the answer, but I'll try the mosquito granules and cleaning out the gutters. Also, I've been sort of lax about the proper compost mix, so it hasn't really been heating up like it's supposed to. Thanks for the advice!
posted by electroboy at 9:32 AM on August 1, 2007

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