3 Crazy Easy DIY Mosquito Traps (to Be Itch-Free for Good)

Mosquitoes can quickly turn the outdoors from a relaxing retreat into an itchy, pest-ridden nightmare. Take back your backyard with these easy yet effective DIY traps.

By Megan Stein | Updated Jan 11, 2023 10:35 AM

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DIY Mosquito Trap

Photo: istockphoto.com

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 can be a health hazard. If you want to enjoy your yard without 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.

How to Reduce a Mosquito Problem

When it comes to mosquitos, the best defense is a good offense, so encourage the creatures that prey on them. Swallows, robins, mockingbirds, geese, ducks, and songbirds all feast on the pests. Dragonflies, too, can consume hundreds of mosquitoes a day, and you can attract them with plants like irises and buttercups. But mosquito enemy number one? Bats! They come out at dusk to devour their favorite dish, and while you may not want bats snuggling in the shutters of your home, you can build a DIY bat house they’ll nest in when not out hunting. Bats are also attracted to such night-blooming plants as datura, yucca, evening primrose, and cleome. Many types of fish and turtles munch mosquitos as well, but having them in your yard means installing a water source. A fine idea, as long as it’s flowing—but stagnant water is the mosquitoes’ breeding ground. So perhaps the easiest way to keep biters at bay is to ensure there’s no standing water in your yard.

RELATED: The Best Mosquito Traps You Can Buy

The Best DIY Mosquito Traps

Despite the best attempts to keep your yard well trimmed, free of standing water, and friendly to mosquito foes, you may still find the pernicious pests honing in on your barbecues and pool parties. So to send them packing, create one of these three tricky traps.

The Snare Mosquito Trap: Sugar, Yeast, and a 2-Liter Bottle

DIY mosquito trap using plastic bottle and yeast mixture

Photo: Jenny Stanley

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which they perceive as the breath of humans and other mammals. They’ll zoom in to this simple snare , believing they’ll soon be sucking blood, but instead they’ll meet their doom! You’ll need a cup of hot water, 1/4 cup of sugar, a gram of yeast, and an empty two-liter plastic bottle to craft this concoction.

  1. Cut the bottle in half around its middle.
  2. Heat the water, then add sugar and let the granules dissolve.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the cap, flip the top of the bottle upside down, and push it into the bottom half of the bottle to create a funnel. Then tape the two bottle pieces together.
  5. To increase the mosquito trap’s effectiveness, secure a black sock, cloth, or piece of paper around the outside of the assemblage.

Set the snare above ground in a shaded part of the yard, away from gathering spaces. The mosquitoes will be attracted to the CO2, prompting them to enter through the funnel, where they’ll then drown in the water. Empty the bottle and add more mix every 2 weeks or as needed.

RELATED: 8 Ways You’re Making Your Mosquito Problem Worse

The Ovitrap Mosquito Trap: A Sock, Stagnant Water, and a Mesh Screen

diy mosquito trap using sock and stagnant water

Photo: Jenny Stanley

Ovitraps are dark, water-filled containers that 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. Once fully grown, they will be too big to crawl back through the mesh and will be stuck beneath the screen—to bother you and breed no more! You’ll need a plastic container (a rinsed-out pint of yogurt, perhaps), thin-gauge wire, mesh (from an old screen, maybe), a drill, some glue, and an old long black sock.

  1. To make the trap, drill two holes just big enough to accommodate some thin-gauge wire on opposite sides of a plastic container.
  2. Drill two larger holes below the hanger holes to serve as overflow drains. These will prevent the water that fills the mosquito trap from reaching the screen that locks in the grown mosquitoes.
  3. Next, glue the toe of a black sock to the bottom of the inside of the container.
  4. After the glue is completely dry, pull the rest of the sock up over the rim so that it covers the outside of the container, and glue the sock into place.
  5. 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.
  6. Feed wire through the small holes at the top to make a hanger.
  7. Pour some stagnant water (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.

Hang the mosquito trap in shaded places away from wind and sun, by trees and shrubs. If the container doesn’t refill naturally through rainfall, add more water any time you notice the sock is dry.

RELATED: 8 High-Tech Bug Zappers for Your Backyard

The Fan Favorite Mosquito Trap: A Fan and Metal Mesh

diy mosquito trap using box fan and window screen

Photo: Jenny Stanley

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.

  1. Rotate the fan so it’s blowing away, and the side that pulls air is facing forward.
  2. Cut a piece of screen that’s the same size as the box fan. If you haven’t any metal mesh handy, mosquito netting or tulle fabric will work just as well.
  3. Press the screen against the face of the fan and secure with magnets, zip ties, or duct tape. Net or fabric can be attached with glue.

Place the fan near places mosquitoes inhabit, plug it in (if at a campsite, use your portable generator), and  turn it on. Mosquitoes will investigate—drawn, theory has it, by the sound and/or motion, and get trapped in the mesh/netting. They’ll  eventually dry out and die, but if you notice any survivors, mist the mesh lightly with a 50-50 blend of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and water to finish them off; just take care not to drench the fan’s motor.

RELATED: 10 Things That Make You a Magnet for Mosquitoes

FAQ About Insect Traps for Mosquitoes

If you’d like more information on how to keep mosquitoes from making you miserable, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How can I control mosquitoes naturally?

A natural mosquito control plan involves attracting creatures that dine on mosquitoes. Put in plantings that mosquito predators—including various species of birds, dragonflies, and bats—are drawn to. Keeping your yard neatly trimmed and the grass mowed will also thwart the pests. And above all, ensure that there’s no standing water in your yard, as that’s where mosquitoes breed. Check after a rainfall to empty buckets, wheelbarrows, etc. If you wish to have a bird bath, install one with a fountain, which will repel mosquitoes.

What is the best way to catch mosquitoes?

Try any of the mosquito traps detailed above to catch mosquitoes. Be sure to locate them in shady areas, out of direct sun and wind, and away from places where family and friends gather.

Do vinegar mosquito traps really work?

The construction of such a mosquito trap is similar to the bottle snare described above, but instead of yeast, it uses vinegar. Probably because there’s no CO2 involved to lure the mosquitoes, these traps have proved ineffective, disappointing folks who’ve tried them.

What smells do mosquitoes hate?

Some of the smells that you’d likely find a total turn-off—like sweat and body odor—are tempting aromas to mosquitoes. But you can deter them with various essential oils that you may well consider pleasant. These oils include lavender, tea tree, lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon, neem, and soybean. Citronella is such a popular skeeter-banishing oil, it’s sold in candle form for this purpose. Mosquitoes also dislike garlic; if it’s plentiful in your diet, they may not want to drink your blood.

Final Thoughts

Warm weather fun needn’t be spoiled by mosquitoes. Plan on using these traps and techniques before your next backyard bash or chill session. Check container mosquito traps weekly to ensure that they’re still in place; empty and replace ingredients as needed.