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5 smart ways to repel mosquitos this summer

Don't let these pesky backyard blood suckers ruin your next cookout. Fight the bite with these proven methods for repelling mosquitos.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Mosquitos are a nuisance. No matter where you live, you've likely encountered these flying pests that suck your blood and leave itchy bite wounds. Mosquitos aren't just annoying; they're also dangerous.

Zika, West Nile and Malaria are all carried by types of mosquitoes and are serious concerns for people across the globe. The US Environmental Protection Agency even approved the lab creation of bacteria-infected mosquitos to kill those that carry Zika. The Gates Foundation funded a project to kill mosquitos known to carry malaria. 

When it comes to protecting yourself from these pesky and sometimes perilous insects, there are several options. Here are a few methods of mitigation to make sure burgers are the only things bitten at your next barbecue. 

Start with your surroundings 

Before you slather yourself with greasy bug spray, take time to make your backyard or outdoor space less inviting to mosquitos. Eliminate any standing, stagnant water where mosquitos could breed. That includes places like buckets, gutters, play sets or any plastic covers.

If you have items outdoors that need water, like bird baths, fountains or rain barrels, empty any excess water you can and change out the water at least once a week to keep it fresh. If you have a pool, be sure to properly treat and circulate the water. 

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The citronella is a medicinal plant with repellent properties for insects.  

KcrisRamossssAkcrisRamosss / Getty Images

Grow your garden

If you're looking for a chemical-free approach to repelling mosquitos, potted plants and a few additions to your garden can go a long way. The essential oils inside some plants repel mosquitos, and those oils are released when the leaves are crushed, burned or rubbed directly onto skin. Add some greenery to your patio with these plants thought to keep mosquitos at bay with their scents and oils: 

  • Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Citronella grass
  • Catnip
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Lemon balm
  • Scented geraniums 

Adjust your wardrobe

It's probably not the advice you'd like to hear in the hot summer months, but donning long sleeves, socks and pants is one way to protect against mosquito bites. Fabric can act as a barrier, making it more difficult for mosquitos to reach your skin in the first place. If long sleeves and pants aren't your summer style, tucking in your shirt is still a good idea. 

Consider a repellent spray or device

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Chemical repellents fight mosquitos through sprays, armbands and clip-on accessories. 

Miguel Schincariol / AFP/Getty Images

If you're not bothered by the idea of a chemical solution (and we don't blame you if you are), there are dozens of sprays, wristbands and mosquito-repelling wearables on the market. 

Read more: The best bug sprays in 2021

Other options include devices that repel mosquitos from a distance. Thermacell's repeller uses fuel cartridges loaded with Allethrin, a synthetic version of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants. The battery-powered device generates heat that disperses the repellent into the air, creating a protection zone.

If you're stuck deciding what you need in a repellent, the EPA has a search tool to help you find the right fit for your situation. Which ones are most effective? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using an EPA-registered product with one of the following active ingredients for maximum repelling power: 

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

If you're pregnant, nursing or have a small child, it's important to take extra care when applying chemicals on or near the skin. Visit the CDC's website for tips on applying repellents safely. 

Invest in a misting system 

Misting systems are one way to seriously wage war against mosquitos on your property. These systems are made up of nozzles connected via tubing to a tank that holds an insecticide. The nozzles, set around the perimeter of your yard, spray a fine mist of insecticide to kill and repel mosquitos.

Automatic spraying occurs in timed intervals, or you can activate the system through a remote control. Misting is thought to be safe for households with children and pets, and there are all natural misting solutions, but it's still recommended that you avoid the area while the actual misting is taking place. 

This method of repeated spraying is effective, but it doesn't come cheap. DIY versions costs several hundred dollars, while full-service, professionally installed systems can cost as much as $5,000 for a quarter-acre lot. Still, if you have a serious problem with pests, you might be happy to trade your dollars for comfort. For more information on misting and how insecticides are regulated in your state, read the EPA's guide.

Try these methods to find the right solution for your space. Whether it's potted plants or potent sprays, you can enjoy a mosquito-free space all summer.