3 Fixes for a Mosquito-Filled Backyard
Mosquitoes can quickly transform the outdoors from a relaxing retreat into a nightmare of itchy, pest-ridden discomfort. Take back your backyard with one of these three DIY traps.
Their vampire-like tendencies and itchy bites make mosquitoes a nuisance in any setting, but they’re especially aggravating when they violate your backyard. And because some species transmit human pathogens, including West Nile virus, malaria, and the Zika virus, these bloodthirsty bugs are more than annoying—they’re also a health hazard. If you want to enjoy your yard without first having to bathe in bug spray, try one of these homemade weapons of mass mosquito destruction, all of which can be made from materials typically found at home.
This simple snare exploits mosquitoes’ attraction to carbon dioxide to lure them to their doom. You’ll need a cup of hot water, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a gram of yeast, and an empty two-liter plastic bottle to craft this concoction. First, cut the bottle in half around its middle. Heat up the water, then dump in the sugar and let the granules dissolve. Once the solution has cooled, pour the mixture into the bottom half of the bottle, and add the yeast to begin the carbon dioxide reaction. Remove the cap, flip the top of the bottle upside down, push it into the bottom half of the bottle to create a funnel, and then tape the two pieces together. To increase the effectiveness of the trap, secure a black sock, cloth, or piece of paper around the outside of the assemblage.
The mosquitoes will be attracted to the CO2, prompting them to enter through the funnel, where they’ll then drown in the water. Suspend the trap in a shaded part of the yard away from any gathering spaces to avoid bringing the unwanted guests even closer. Empty the bottle and add more mix every two weeks or as needed.
Ovitraps operate on the kill-’em-before-they-multiply principle. These dark, water-filled containers imitate the breeding environment that mosquitoes favor—only this nursery is actually a morgue. When females lay their eggs on the container’s sock-lined rim, the larvae will fall through the screen and into the water. When they’re fully grown, they will be too big to crawl back through the mesh and will be stuck beneath the screen. (You can guess what happens next.)
To make the trap, drill two holes just big enough to accommodate some thin-gauge wire on opposite sides of a plastic container. Drill two larger holes below the hanger holes to serve as overflow drains. These will prevent the water that fills the trap from reaching the screen that locks in the grown mosquitoes. Next, glue the toe of a black sock to the bottom of the inside of the container. After the glue is completely dry, pull the rest of the sock up over the rim so that it completely covers the outside of the container, and glue the sock into place. Then, cut a fine-mesh metal screen to the same circumference as the top of the container, and press it into the opening so it sits directly above the overflow holes. Feed wire through the small holes at the top to make a hanger. Finally, pour some stagnant water from the backyard—or a similar homemade concoction made by adding grass clippings or dog kibble to fresh water—into the trap and all over the sock so that it’s moist. If the container doesn’t refill naturally through rainfall, add more water any time you notice the sock is dry.
The fan trap has many iterations, but the simplest uses a 20-inch metal-frame box fan, metal mesh (the kind used on window screens), and magnets strong enough to secure the screen to the fan’s frame. If you can’t get ahold of metal mesh, you can instead attach mosquito netting or even tulle to the back of a box fan using glue. After cutting the netting of your choice to size and securing it in place on the back of the fan, simply switch the fan on and let it do the work.
When deployed near places that mosquitoes like to inhabit (think bright lights or ponds), the fan will suck them in, where they will be trapped by the netting and eventually dry out and die. If you check the trap and notice any survivors, spray them with a 50-50 blend of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and water to finish them off, but avoid drenching the fan’s motor.