In the past, the only ways to control mosquitoes were with neighborhood fogger trucks and homeowners treating wet areas on their property with insecticides like malathion.
While we can still use chemical insecticides quite successfully in damp or wet areas, new organic controls are also available today. We also have fancy, environmentally safe high-tech gizmos like The Mosquito Magnet™, The Mosquito Trap™ and various misting systems.
In other words, we've come a long way from citronella candles and fly swatters on the back porch.
I'm always a firm believer in both organic and inorganic gardening and landscaping methods, and the same holds true for mosquito control. Malathion spray still works for me and many other people. But, for those with kids and pets, organic alternatives abound.
For example, a doughnut-shaped product called Mosquito Dunks can placed in standing water or damp areas to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching. Their active ingredient is Bt, an organic bacterium that works on mosquito larvae, as well as those of many caterpillars and worms.
Then there are products like The Mosquito Magnet, a free-standing unit that runs off a propane tank. It emits puffs of carbon dioxide, heat and moisture, emulating a large cow. The combination is simply irresistible to mosquitoes, and as they head for the vapor thinking dinner awaits, they are sucked into a waiting net where they die from dehydration. A cheaper version that works on electricity rather than gas is called The Mosquito Trap.
And, there are misting systems that emit a fine spray of organic Pyrethrum insecticide on the entire perimeter of your property. While this is the most expensive system, and most people just use it for the back yard, it's the most precise. If you know you're going to be outside at a certain time, you set it to go off for an hour or two before and viola ... no mosquitoes or any other biting insects.
Which one works best, and which do I prefer? It depends on your acreage and your pocketbook. If cost is no object, then have a misting system installed. If cost is a big hurdle, go with Mosquito Dunks, insecticides or even citronella candles. For something in between, try the Mosquito Magnet or Mosquito Trap, but remember they only cover about half an acre. Insecticides and the Mosquito Dunks only work their immediate areas.