Mosquitoes suck. There is no other way to put it and that is not meant to be vulgar. That is how they 'feed' off of their victims - they suck blood. They do not bite, they do not burrow, and they do not kill. They suck.
These nasty little parasites stick a straw-like mouth part into your skin where they inject an anesthetic and anti-coagulant so that you are less likely to feel them sucking on you and your blood won't clot as they suck away. It is always a female (males do not feed on humans - only the gals do so that they can get enough protein to lay some eggs) and she will suck away until engorged with your blood. The mosquito 'bite' that itches afterwards is not a bite at all - it is an allergic reaction to the anesthetic that was injected into your body. Remember, mosquitoes suck.
So what is the best option for avoiding mosquitoes? In a nutshell, keeping mosquitoes away requires diligence on several levels.
The easiest least effective way is to surround yourself outside with a few supposedly repellent candles. Good luck with that one. We've been told to slather DEET and other synthetic chemicals on our skin and clothing to repel but keep in mind, you can't use these on children less than two years of age, you do not want to place them between your skin and clothing (for fear of greater absorption), and common sense tells you to use as little as possible anything that can peel paint off metal. (That is a common complaint you can read about in Sportsman's Journal columns as DEET disintegrate the paint on rifles. But that is another article… )
Beyond repellents, you can prevent mosquitoes from breeding. How many times have you read that mosquitoes like to breed in old tires left in the yard? I personally do not know anyone who has old tires in their yards. But I do know many with bird baths, forgotten toys, buckets accidentally left outside that collect rain, and other benign objects that serve as magnificent breeding grounds for these blood-sucking monsters. So we inadvertently create the very circumstances that wreak havoc.
So again, what is the best way to avoid them?
The ultimate way to avoid mosquitoes is to have a comprehensive plan to make sure no mosquito wants to be in your yard. That means you must take away everything they need to survive which is nesting sites and protection. Make it obvious that mosquitoes are not welcome and they will not come. Here are the step-by-step guidelines to accomplish it.
Eliminate all opportunities for standing water. Easier said than done as many places you are unaware of. Obviously, either empty bird baths daily or at least manipulate the water enough everyday so nothing can breed there. (Mosquitoes need standing water to breed so something with a fountain that is constantly moving the water isn't a problem.) Magnolia leaves that have dropped to the ground and created a 'cup' are notorious breeding sites. Toys, buckets, plant saucers, tarps, candle holders, etc. are all examples of items that unknowingly trap enough water for breeding to begin. It only takes a few teaspoons!
By eliminating the water, it means they can't procreate on your property. But they sure can multiply into the thousands in a few days in your neighbor's yard and drop by for a visit. Now is the time to make sure they REALLY know you mean business and that they are NOT welcome!
Create a barrier that mosquitoes will not cross! I mean make sure your home area emits a clear signal to mosquitoes that if they come here, they will die.
There are several options to create barriers. A Mosquito Misting System is a relatively new invention that many are using to create areas inhospitable to mosquitoes. People can fog their yards (or have a professional do it) for specific events. Both of these options typically use synthetic pyrethroids mixed with additional chemicals to offer some residual control. However, there are environmental and human health concerns about these chemicals and due to pesticide resistance, these chemicals are losing their effectiveness against many species including the mosquito.
A new invention is an Injector System that integrates into an existing irrigation system to safely create pest-free areas wherever water is directed. If you already have an irrigation system, it can now serve as the distribution of mosquito (and other pests) fighting products. However, it must be a safe, green product placed into the water supply - no toxic chemicals allowed. Cedar based products being run through the irrigation system are proving very successful.
Beyond these suggestions, keep in mind mosquitoes are very active at dawn and dusk so wear long sleeves and pants during these peak times. That is not always appropriate however, as the ripest weather for these pests is typically warm and humid and not the time to cover up.
To recap what we've discussed here, an ongoing treatment program for your yard is the best solution to prevent mosquitoes. A safe, green product is preferable for your health as well as offering a long-term solution that the pests cannot become resistant to. Next line of defense - GET RID OF STANDING WATER! If they can't breed, the vast majority of your problems will be solved. Then lastly, you can do nothing preventatively and when they are an issue, either cover up or use repellents.
Avoiding mosquitoes is possible when you follow these steps. West Nile Virus is worthy of avoidance as well as the annoying blood-sucking carriers of that and many other diseases. Being responsible for these threats to our health and safety make it abundantly clear - Mosquitoes really do SUCK!