Outdoor gatherings are a summertime staple for many families and groups of friends for whom summer simply would not be complete without backyard barbecues or lazy evenings on the patio. While outdoor party hosts often invite as many friends and family members as possible to such gatherings, they also can count on some uninvited and particularly bothersome guests: mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes love to bite humans. The side effects of such bites can range from the relatively harmless (annoying, itchy bites) to the severe (disease). Hosts who want to keep mosquitoes at bay during their next patio party can try the following tips.
Address areas with standing water. Standing water is attractive to mosquitoes because it gives them a place to breed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies have shown that female mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in water that collects or is stored in manmade containers. The CDC recommends that items that can collect water, including pet bowls, vases, birdbaths and pool covers, be emptied and scrubbed at least once per week. When items like pet bowls are not in use, turn them over to empty them and then keep them covered until they must be used again. Tightly seal any water storage containers to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside and laying eggs.
Simulate wind. Few people may think to bring window or desk fans outside when entertaining, but simulating wind can deter mosquitoes from invading patios and decks. Mosquitoes fly slowly and often cannot make it through the simulated wind created by manmade fans. In addition, fans may blow away the very things, such as body odor, that draw mosquitoes to humans in the first place.
Light citronella candles and/or torches. Citronella candles and tiki torches that burn citronella are effective mosquito deterrents as well. Such candles and torches give off smoke that confuses mosquitoes and masks the human scents that attract the bugs. Place torches around your patio but find somewhere other than the dining table to place citronella candles if you decide to use them, as some people find the candles aggravating or bothersome.
Plant mosquito-repellent plants. The right plants might help you keep mosquitoes at bay as well. For example, catmint contains an oil called nepeta faassenii that can be used as an all-natural mosquito repellent. Closely related to catmint, catnip also can be an effective mosquito deterrent. But both species can be invasive, so be sure to contact a local lawn and garden professional before planting any plants to repel mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are a potentially harmful nuisance that can quickly compromise outdoor gatherings. But party hosts can take several steps to keep these uninvited guests from spoiling summertime soirees.