Declare Victory over Vampires!

Don’t become an unwilling blood donor to hungry mosquitoes when you’re relaxing outside this summer. Set out oscillating fans to keep the air moving, and when you’re barbecuing, toss a handful of sage, rosemary, or citrus peels on the coals. Both strategies will make mosquitoes keep their distance. But for long-term control, you need to eliminate the little devils’ breeding grounds. And that’s really not as hard as it may sound. Here’s your six-item to-do list:

  1. Get rid of any water-collecting debris, like old tires or discarded buckets.
  2. Fill in holes and any low-lying areas in your yard where rainwater collects.
  3. Change your pets’ water at least once a day, and refill birdbaths every couple of days.
  4. Empty portable wading pools as soon as the kids (or pets) are through using them. Then turn them upside down or take them indoors.
  5. Keep rain barrels covered.
  6. To make water gardens and other permanent water features off-limits, use either Laginex® or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). Both are available online and in many garden centers, and both kill mosquitoes without harming any other living things. Just one word of advice: If you go with Bti, make sure you look for slow-release tablets; some brands lose their effectiveness after about three days, so you’ll have to add more.