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How to Make your Next Outdoor Event Mosquito-Free

how to have a mosquito-free outdoor party

A glamorous summer evening party under the stars. It sounds like a dream, right? Unfortunately, a swarm of pesky uninvited guests that can turn the whole thing into a nightmare. What’s the secret to making your outdoor living space bug-free? Our intrepid correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has done the research, and she’s sharing some environmentally-friendly ideas on how to get rid of mosquitoes. Here’s how to make your next outdoor event mosquito-free. 

how to make your next outdoor event mosquito-free

Recently, we have been covering all of the important considerations for luxurious outdoor summer entertaining: from luxury outdoor furniture to sustainable serveware to how to host the perfect outdoor party. That’s the fun and glamorous stuff.

Now, Dear Reader, it’s time to stop daydreaming and prepare for battle! We’re talking a scorched-earth policy; a show-no-mercy mentality. Get ready to test your willpower and perseverance. Because achieving your perfect summer party goals will take constant vigilance and not only a Plan B, but a C, D, E, F and G.

mosquito-free outdoor event

No matter how chic your lounge furniture may be, or how long you’ve been marinating the ribs, those pesky (and deadly) mosquitoes have the potential to ruin all your thoughtful planning. It’s pretty hard for your guests to enjoy the nosh or be their usual charming and witty selves when every. minute. outdoors. equals another bubble of maddening itchiness in the days to come.

And is it us, or do mosquito bites last longer and itch more the older you get? 

It’s time to figure out how to get rid of mosquitoes, people. Let’s get serious about creating a mosquito-free outdoor event. Don’t expose your beloved guests to this kind of torture. Instead, take some tips from this insider guide to making your outdoor living space bug-free. Here is our not-so-top secret plan for how to get rid of mosquitoes (or at least drastically reduce their numbers) once and for all. Operation Mosquito Mauler starts now.

mosquito-free outdoor event

tips for making your outdoor living space bug-free

Mosquitoes 101

Before we get into the How-To’s, we need understand the enemy. Actually, we need to understand the mating pattern of the enemy. A female mosquito only needs to encounter a male mosquito once to mate. After that, she can produce eggs up to 5 times in a summer from that single encounter. How efficient of them.

Once the female has mated with a male mosquito, she will rest for a few days before she finds the ideal location to lay her eggs. The ideal location? Anything with enough moisture. Something as small as a bottle cap with standing water will suffice. As the eggs hatch, they will become larvae. As they grow, they will mature to the pupae and eventually the adult mosquito emerges… ready to terrify us all.

Prevention is the best strategy for a mosquito-free outdoor event

We are at the onset of mosquito season and now is the time to play offense. These tenacious critters have survived on Earth since the Jurassic period. So you’re going to need more than a convenience store spray to deter them.

how to get rid of mosquitoes

Step 1.

The most important step one can take is to eliminate the mosquito’s breeding sites. Easier said than done. Check your entire property for standing water and not just the obvious sites like kiddie pools, watering cans, and birdbaths. Clogged gutters, trays under flower pots, and pooling water by weeds all look inviting to a mama mosquito. Luckily, a well chlorinated and filtered swimming pool is not at risk. You will need to do be vigilant and do this all summer long, especially after a rainfall.

Step 2.

Mosquitoes like to lay low in dense vegetation: the lower limbs of shade trees, shrubs and weeds. Grab some gloves and start pulling that overgrowth to minimize their resting spots during the day. While you’re at it, trim back any low foliage.

If you’re not averse to chemical solutions, pick a calm, non-windy day and spray both the top and underside of leaves, as well as under the deck and other overhanging structures. Two popular insecticides for this purpose are Demand CS and Talstar Pro.

For a more natural solution, try a garlic-based liquid sprays such as Mosquito Barrier 2001, which is essentially highly concentrated garlic juice derived from extra potent cloves. I guess blood-sucking creatures really do hate garlic.

Step 3.

If you’re looking to start or add to your garden, there are some lovely plants that have mosquito-repellent properties: marigold, lavender and lemon balm. Common herbs like rosemary and basil are also reputed to ward off the pesky insects. And of course, citronella grass is one of the easiest to maintain and can fill a space very quickly.

Unfortunately, having these plants is not enough to fully mosquito-proof your yard. The plants have to be dinged up a bit for them to emit their protective, repellent properties. We like to enjoy their beauty as much as possible, saving the strategic trampling until the morning of the event.

how to get rid of mosquitoes

Plan of Attack for a mosquito-free outdoor event

While prevention can give you a fighting chance against mosquitoes, you’re still going to need some defense. Here are our best tips.

Tip 1

Last year, our neighbors asked us if we would mind if they put up a bat house near our shared fence. Intriguing, we thought. We knew they loved animals. But bats?? Turns out a single bat can devour between 600-1,200 mosquitoes an hour. These much-maligned animals are quite harmless and like to keep their distance from humans.

We only ever saw them at night, and our family and guests actually love trying to spot them swooping down to catch their prey. All that’s needed is David Attenborough narrating, and you have yourself an authentic nature documentary right there in your own backyard.

bug-free outdoor living space

Bat houses can easily be bought at home improvement stores. This simple, cedar shelter from Audobon is consistently highly rated ($39.95). If you’re looking for something with a more modern aesthetic, this house  ($175) is beautiful to look at and built to the recommendations of Bat Conservation International. 

The trick is where to install it. Bat houses that are positioned on a pole 15-20 feet above ground (away from predators) will have a better chance of occupancy than houses mounted on trees. You also want to make sure that there is some sun exposure (bats like the warmth), but not exposure to bright lights. Depending on the size of the shelter, bat houses can hold 20-100 bats.

outdoor event mosquito-free

Modern Minimalist Bat House. Photo Courtesy Etsy.

Tip 2

Mosquitoes do have some weaknesses. They are fairly weak fliers so they will avoid your outdoor living space if there is a moderate breeze provided by an electric fan. Another reason for the fan’s effectiveness is the fact that it disperses carbon dioxide and other chemical cues that mosquitoes use to locate their hosts.

These days, fans don’t have to ruin your decor. We think they add a nostalgic and languid quality to outdoor events. This elegant option ($316) can blend in easily to your outdoor garden as a piece of sculpture, with an Asian pagoda flair. There’s also this handsome fan with a Restoration appeal ($389.98) that will look and feel cool on any patio.

outdoor living space bug-free

Left to right: Arden Floor Fan and Lasko Outdoor Fan. Courtesy Photos.

Tip 3

As much as bugs are attracted to our blood, sweat and tears, they’re also drawn to beacons of light. So to create a mosquito-free outdoor event, try replacing incandescent outdoor bulbs for opaque yellow bug lights. Because of different light wavelengths, these lights are less visible to insects which results in less swarms around your guests.The caveat is that not all insects are the same and different bugs can see different wavelengths. So it’s far from a one-and-done solution. But in combination with other defenses, bug lights can certainly reduce the number of pests from ruining your midsummer night’s dream.

Tip 4

Here’s our feeling on mosquito traps – why not? As long as you manage your expectations and know that they will not kill every mosquito that dares to fly into your yard. These traps are unobtrusive and do not use harmful chemicals.

The DynaTrap Insect and Mosquito Trap, for example, is engineered for 3-way protection, and is a well-thought-out element in an overall plan for how to get rid of mosquitoes. First, a UV fluorescent bulb generates a warm light, attracting insects. Then, a second lure, is proprietary surface that produced carbon dioxide which is irresistible to mosquitoes. Third, a powerful yet whisper-quiet vacuum fan sucks insects into the retaining cage where they dehydrate and die. It’s a low-maintenance solution for how to get rid of mosquitoes – just set it and forget it.

Tip 5

While mosquito traps emit CO2 as a lure, popular items like citronella candles and coils mask the CO2 that we breathe out. Which is one way to foster a mosquito-free outdoor event site. Many claim that the amount of citronella in candles is negligible and that it ceases to be effective after an hour. From our experience, we tend to agree.

Instead, we prefer lemon eucalyptus oil and sprays to make our outdoor living space bug-free. This oil can reduce mosquitoes by 60%.

 bug-free outdoor living space

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

And of course, there’s good old mosquito repellent.

Repel is DEET free and has over 2,700 five-star reviews. These Deter towelettes contain a natural botanical formula that also feel refreshing on a hot summer day. We like to re-bottle the Repel in a clear spray bottle with a handwritten label and offer a basket of Deter wipes on a side table for our guests as enter the backyard. That’s one step in the standard protocol for how to get rid of mosquitoes (and their bites).

If you want to kick it like a boss, you can offer guests this new luxury mosquito repellent. Coqui Coqui Mosquito Repellent, is $45 per bottle, and its available at Bergdorf Goodman online.

Offering an ample supply of bug spray will not only win you hostess points, it will also help people relax and let down their guard.

 bug-free outdoor living space

How to get rid of mosquitoes? That’s how.

Got all that? Good! That’s how to make your next outdoor event mosquito-free, and create an outdoor living space that’s bug-free. Those mosquitoes don’t stand a chance this summer.

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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing and spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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