Last summer, my family and I rented a beautiful lake house in Wisconsin. Nestled in a wooded terrain next to a large lake, the house was the perfect fit for my family to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with each other.
My husband and I created a thorough packing list that included any and everything we would need to make our stay comfortable. There was no internet connection, no television, and no outside distractions. As soon as our overpacked SUV pulled into the driveway, we were ready to enjoy our surroundings and create memories that would last a lifetime.
However, there was one thing we didn’t prepare for that made our stay quite uncomfortable and very frustrating: mosquitos.
There was an overwhelming amount of mosquitos that hovered over us each day and night. The lake we were staying on was stagnant, and heavy rainfall the weeks before had given way to a staggering amount of pesky bugs, adamant on ruining our vacation. By the end of our first day, I was pulling my hair out in frustration.
We had spent so much time (and money) planning our family getaway, and mosquitos we’re going to ruin it all.
“Let’s go to the local store and buy some Deet,” suggested my husband. It was a great, effective idea, but I didn’t want to blast our vacation home with toxic chemicals on our very first day.
Trust me when I tell you that I devised a multitude of ways to eliminate bugs from our vacation. After many failed attempts, these were the 5 best options that worked best, and I now use these tactics in my own home.
Citronella is a safe and non-toxic way to repel mosquitos, but it doesn’t actually kill them.
Used most often in candles, citronella oil can effectively reduce mosquito landings by 42 percent as it masks scents that are attractive to insects, like carbon dioxide and lactic acid in humans.
We bought a ton of citronella candles and placed them anywhere and everywhere we didn’t want bugs to be. They even come in wrist bands that we placed on the kids when they ventured outside of the candlelit areas. I’m not a big fan of the scent citronella gives off, but they work great.
Just be mindful when you place candles around small children – it’s always smart to place them out of reach and in areas where they can’t easily be knocked over.
Because mosquitos and smaller bugs are not strong flyers, fans are an excellent way to blow them away.
Invest in one or two fans to place on your deck to keep bugs at bay. As an added bonus, they’ll provide you with a nice cool breeze during those hot summer days. Fans were an amazing deterrent for our lakeside bugs.
I’ve even invested in a large outdoor fan for our home deck, which has been working wonders.
3. Grow bug-resistant plants
Plants such as chrysanthemum, rosemary, lemongrass, garlic, marigolds, and mint are excellent at keeping bugs at bay. Chrysanthemums, in particular, are very effective in deterring ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, silverfish, and ticks.
Planted strategically, these plants should help you enjoy your backyard with fewer bugs.
Although our lake house only had a few of these plants, we’ve made sure to plant a majority of these in our own home to guard against bugs.
4. Use dryer sheets
Bounce dryer sheets, in particular, have been scientifically proven to repel bugs. Bounce dryer sheets contain two ingredients that are just as effective as any other over-the-counter repellant: linalool and beta-citronellol.
Linalool is naturally found in lavender and basil and is considered toxic to some insects but is known to have repelling qualities. Beta-citronellol is also found in citronella.
Grab some dryer sheets from your laundry and place them in your pocket, pin them to your shirt, or even rub them on your arms and legs.
5. Get rid of standing water
Since we were near a stagnant lake, we were out of luck with this option. Yes, standing water is a breeding ground for all kinds of bugs, especially mosquitos as they are known to lay their eggs in and around stagnant water.
An accumulation of water that has no constant fresh source gives insects a place to thrive. If you have a bird bath or areas in your yard (like planters or digging pails that your kids have left out) where water has accumulated (especially after heavy rainfall), empty them out so that bugs don’t have a chance to get comfortable.
What effective ways have you used to keep pesky bugs at bay?