Once again mosquitoes have taken over our backyard. This seems to happen every year. It has become impossible to spend any time outdoors. What can I do to deal with this annual dilemma?

Mosquitoes have to be one of the more bothersome pests of summer. Nothing will drive me indoors quicker than a swarm of mosquitoes hovering around me, biting my ankles, and humming in my ears. And with the threat of West Nile Virus, mosquito control is even more crucial. However, it is important to look at the big picture when dealing with this pest. As with most pest control, broad applications of chemical treatments may not be the best solution. In many cases, taking measured steps to control mosquitoes in your own backyard produces the best results for both you and the environment.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so your first step should be to deal with the source of the problem. Working your way outward from the area around your home, look for and eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in anything from birdbaths, drainage from leaky pipe joints, garden pools or saucers under potted plants. Keep your gutters and drains clear of leaves and debris. Install French drains or sump pumps in soggy areas of your garden.

If you have contained water features that cannot be eliminated such as garden pools or cisterns try treating the water. There are many products on the market today that will kill mosquito larvae without harming other wildlife. I’ve used a mosquito pellet that kills larvae in my fountain with great success. It is best not to use these chemicals in open sources of water like streams or ponds.

Goldfish are a natural predator of mosquitoes. Consider adding a few to your garden pool. This solution works best with small man made pools and ponds with no natural drainage. It is not advisable for larger bodies of water or naturally occurring bodies of water because exotic fish will kill native fish and vice versa. However, many native fish will also eat mosquitoes. Check to see what would be the best solution for your area.

Commercial insect repellants are actually quite effective these days. However, it is safest to apply only to your clothing, as repeated application directly to your skin may be hazardous.

Using screened porches or netting is a good way to prevent mosquitoes from getting to you. If you already have a screened porch be sure that it is properly sealed.

Ceiling fans or standing fans are a great way to prevent mosquito infestations. Not only do you keep the pests away, but you get a cool breeze as well.