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Shoo, Fly: How to Get Rid of Mosquitos, Flies and Pesky Insects

When the days grow warm and the evenings are mild, few things are more enjoyable than spending time in the great outdoors. The last thing you want to worry about are pesky insects such as flies and mosquitoes taking the fun out of an otherwise-pleasant adventure, especially in your own yard.

Fortunately, you can take steps to rid yourself of these annoying pests. Here's how to say "shoo, fly!" — and mean it — this summer.

Mother spraying bug spray on her child.

Controlling Mosquitoes

Dealing with mosquitoes requires a two-pronged approach: Creating unfriendly conditions for mosquitoes around your home and using repellant measures.

Environmental Measures

Start by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common culprits include:

  • Blocked or slow-draining roof gutters
  • Rain or irrigation accumulating in pet dishes, trash and recycle bins, flower pots, children's toys, wading pools, tarps or tires
  • Ends of corrugated drain pipes and downspouts

If you have bird baths or pet dishes in your yard or home, clean them and add fresh water at least every three days. Ponds and rain barrels are also common breeding grounds. Add mosquito dunks that contain Bacillus thuringiensis — a naturally occurring bacteria — or use goldfish or mosquito fish to control larvae.

Check your window and door screens for rips or tears where tiny bugs can fly inside. Installing a ceiling fan (or using a portable fan) on your porch or patio can help keep air moving while you're spending time outside, making conditions unfriendly for flying pests. Finally, light a mosquito coil or citronella candle near seating areas.

Mosquito Repellents

The easiest way to prevent mosquito bites is by wearing loose-fitting, light-colored, long sleeve shirts and pants that cover your skin, as mosquitoes can't bite through cloth. You may choose to treat your clothes with the insecticide permethrin, which also repels ticks.

Sometimes, it's simply too hot for long sleeves. Applying repellent to exposed skin may deter mosquitoes.

Stay safe by following the manufacturer's directions when applying repellents or using insecticides.

Preventing Flies

Fly prevention means controlling environmental factors around your yard and home, and many of these steps involve your trash cans. Flies are attracted to garbage odors, so keep trash cans covered.

When you're transferring from inside the house to an outdoor receptacle, keep garbage bags sealed. You may even want to use plastic bags you get at the store to dispose of kitchen scraps; simply dump in the food waste and tie the bag in a knot before you place it in your kitchen trash can.

Clean bins weekly (both garbage and recycle) with a mixture of bleach and water, then leave them to air dry outside. For a serious fly situation, install insecticide fly baits or resin strips under or around your bins.

Disposing of pet waste regularly (every day if possible) will cut down on the flies in your yard. If you compost, make an effort to bury food scraps under "brown" material, like cardboard or dry leaves, when you add it to the pile. You may also want to lay a sheet of plastic or carpet over the top of the compost to keep flies away.

Keeping Ticks at Bay

Ticks tend to gravitate toward wooded areas, but they also like to hang out in shrubs, weeds, leaf piles and grass. Not only are these little blood suckers annoying, but some carry diseases.

Wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toe shoes outdoors helps keep ticks off your skin; choosing light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to see and remove. You may even want to tuck your pants into your socks to keep them off your ankles.

Stay out of tall grasses, weeds and overgrown areas, and keep your own yard free of leaf litter. Treating your clothing and exposed skin with repellent can help take prevention a step farther.

These simple steps can help you keep bugs at bay this summer.

Family in the kitchen.

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