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It just takes a few minutes outdoors, particularly at dusk, to develop a deep-rooted disdain for mosquitos. And as if buzzing incessantly near your ear and feasting on your exposed arms and legs isn’t enough, mosquitoes can transmit a number of infectious diseases, a fact that elevates the insects from a nuisance to an outright health risk.
The West Nile virus, by far the most common mosquito-borne illness in the U.S., afflicts thousands of people across the country each year. It’s been responsible for more than 2,000 deaths since 1999.
Laura Goodman, senior research associate in Cornell University’s Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, specializes in infectious diseases spread by ticks, which also transmit infectious diseases. But they’re not her main concern on a personal level.
“While everyone else is worrying about ticks,” she says, “I’m worried about mosquitoes.”
Sure, you can buy a plethora of devices designed to repel, capture, and kill the bugs. But as satisfying as bug zappers and electrified insect swatters may seem, few, if any, of these products are effective when it comes to controlling the mosquito population in your yard.
To learn which strategies you can truly rely on, we spoke with Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, coordinator of New York State’s Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell. Here are her five no-nonsense tips for keeping mosquitoes out of your yard and away from your family.
2. Get Rid of Standing Water
“Mosquitoes reproduce in water,” says Gangloff-Kaufmann, “and they can do it in even the small amount of water that would fit in a bottle cap.”
That means it’s imperative to empty outdoor water toys and remove wheelbarrows or other outdoor gear that can catch water after a rainfall. Keep your gutters and drain lines clear of debris—clogged leaves and branches can cause water to pool.
In a mere four days, eggs laid in water mature into nypmths. So if it rains on a Monday, don’t wait until the weekend to get rid of standing water. By then, it’ll be too late.
3. Keep Your Yard Under Control
“Mosquitoes favor cooler spots in the shade,” Gangloff-Kaufmann explains.
By minimizing any tall grass or limbs that cast shadows on your yard, you make the habitat immediately surrounding your home much less…