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I Tried (and Failed) to Keep Mosquitoes Away For Years — Then I Found 3 Products That Really Work

updated Jun 25, 2024
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hate mosquitoes with a passion; there’s nothing like a few itchy bites to really kill the mood of a backyard hangout. (This unusual mosquito balm helps.) We put in a patio last year and want to enjoy it during the cooler summer mornings and evenings, but I needed to get what felt like a hostile enemy population in check first.

Last summer I doubled-down on this anti-mosquito challenge and found my ultimate battle plan. I found three highly effective mosquito repellants and treatments that work amazingly well. I’ve followed it this year and we haven’t had a single bite so far this summer! Here’s what I use and what I did.

1. Collapse mosquito populations with Terminix spray.

The biggest effect comes from preventing mosquito populations to get a foothold in your space. It’s of course good practice to check for and remove any standing water where mosquitoes can breed. But did you know that mosquitoes also love to breed and hang out in foliage and bushes? That’s where this brilliant mosquito spray comes in. The first time I used it I was skeptical I confess; you simply spray your yard’s leaves and bushes with this (non-toxic to humans) aerosol spray. The mosquitoes ingest it and within a few days their populations collapse as the breeders die. But lo and behold it WORKED. This spray is a fraction of the cost of a treatment company and it has worked so well, two summers running. I just spray thoroughly throughout my garden beds and in the shrubs surrounding our yard and patio.

2. Handle intruders with a Thermacell unit.

Thermacell makes what I call the “magic wand” of mosquito repellants. This odorless, non-toxic device gently warms a mosquito repellant that creates what feels like a bulletproof barrier. If we’re going to be outside for a long time (like camping out) or eating a meal outdoors, which can attract insects, I place one of these devices nearby.

And I’m not the only one who loves the Thermacell. We’ve written about it before, and a few of our writers are also fans! Here’s what they say:

“My husband is an avid outdoorsman and grew up spending time in the deep woods of Wisconsin. He swears by the Thermacell rechargeable mosquito repeller. He takes it out in the woods, and then we also use it on our patio at home for outdoor entertaining. It works great and I haven’t had a bite yet this year!” — Kristina Vänni, Kitchn and Cubby contributor

“We got one of [Thermacell mosquito repellers] on the recommendation of a friend who said it made it possible to sit outside unmolested by mosquitoes in her Brooklyn backyard. We only used it a couple times, but it seems to work pretty well in the area right near the device.” — Laura Fenton, Apartment Therapy and Cubby contributor

3. Ward off any other mosquitoes with flyaway sticks.

If we’re having a bigger party where the full yard is used, where people are outside the boundaries of what a Thermacell can cover, I light some of these Madison James flyaway sticks. These are amazingly fragrant and also effective. You stick them in the ground and light them until they smolder and give off an incense-like smoke. Honestly, I love the way they smell, and they are surprisingly effective at banishing the last little bloodsuckers who may have wandered into my yard unawares.

This post has been updated from its original publication in July 2022.