Using natural organic methods sounds idyllic, learning to work with nature rather than fight against it. Yes, co-habituating with deer, squirrels, and aphids means accepting that some food will have bites in it and the occasional plant destroyed. But it is fine––until the mosquitoes arrive. Those bloodsuckers make life so uncomfortable you begin rethinking your stance on DEET. Don’t.
Organic methods of mosquito control takes patience and planning, but there are natural solutions. Examples include:
- Reducing or regularly changing standing water
- Properly stocking ponds and marshes
- Making your property appealing to mosquito-eating animals
- Growing plants to make repellents
Like most aspects of permaculture, there isn’t a single quick fix. Instead, it requires several strategies. But as these systems become established, the work lessens, and the benefits rise. However, that doesn’t mean you need to suffer as you wait for nature to acquire a less itchy balance. There are some things you can do in the short term to help too.
- Reduce Standing Unnecessary Water To Control Mosquitoes
- Permaculture Ponds And Mosquito Control
- Attract Bats For Mosquito Control
- Attract Birds For Mosquito Control
- Grow Mosquito-Repelling Plants
- 7 Tips For Dealing With Mosquitoes Now
Reduce Standing Unnecessary Water To Control Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes lay eggs on stagnating water or just above the waterline, depending on the breed. These areas don’t need to be big; they can be shallow pockets created by poor draining gutters, abandoned flower pots, neglected rain gauge, or your canoe that you forgot to turn over. Also, water for birdbaths needs to be changed every five days.
However, you do not need to get rid of ponds or marshes. There are less drastic ways to deal with mosquitoes in those areas, which we’ll address further down.
Common Mosquito Nurseries On Your Property
Go around your property and start looking for places that are perfect nurseries for mosquitoes. Common suggestions:
- Empty old tires or tire swings
- Empty any planters, containers, and pots that collect water and scrub (eggs stick)
- Clear out drains to buildings
- Keep water storage containers tightly covered
- Put fine wire mesh (holes tinier than adult mosquitoes) over any cisterns or rain barrels that can’t be sealed
- Repair any cracks or gaps to a septic tank
- Use fine wire mesh to cover septic or plumping vents and pipes
- Fill any tree holes or nooks where water collects and no animals use as homes
- Every 5 days, replace birdbath water
Permaculture Ponds And Mosquito Control
You don’t need to drain ponds on your property or install pumps to control mosquitoes. The key is having the right biodiversity to ensure there are enough predators to keep mosquitoes in check. Of course, to keep these predators happy and content, you will also need to make sure your pond is providing an appropriate habitat.
A variety of plants enhances a pond’s ecosystem. What will grow best depends on where you live. However, it is good to select a few from the five main water plant categories:
- Bog plants
- Deep-water plants
- Floating plants
- Marginal plants
- Submerged plants
The mosquitoes will naturally be controlled once you have established a pond ecosystem with plenty of happy predators. However, there may be areas outside of your control that attract mosquitos. One permaculture project in Nigeria addressed this by lighting their pond. Thus, the mosquitoes were lured from these nursery grounds to their predator-filled pond.
4 Mosquito-Eating Animals For Your Permaculture Pond
Your pond needs predators that enjoy eating mosquitos and their eggs and larvae. Some you can try to entice to your property, others you may need to seek out and stock. It is best to find breeds native to your area.
Also, you don’t want to have only one predator but have variety. This will help you, as different predators favor eating the mosquitoes at different development stages. Plus, diversity is best for the health of your pond’s habitat.
Dragonflies: Mosquito Predator
Dragonflies are built for hunting. Which they need to be, as they consume 10-15% of their body weight a day. Favorite foods include mosquitoes, deerflies, termites, horseflies, midges, and blackflies.
Dragonfly eggs are laid in the same areas of ponds that mosquitoes enjoy. Which is perfect because dragonfly larvae feast on mosquito larvae.
To make your ponds and wet areas dragonfly friendly, you need to protect the area from wind and ensure it gets at least 5-6 hours of sun. There also needs to be a variety of depths to provide different water temperatures. They also like plants around, both floating and submerged. These offer hiding places, perches, and incubation areas.
Fish: Mosquito Predator
You can use many kinds of mosquito-eating fish to stock your ponds, and we’re highlighting six of them. However, make sure your waterways do not connect to others in the wild, as non-native fish can crowd out native breeds. Also, they are not recommended if your area has endangered frog species, as tadpoles will be eliminated.
Lastly, not all types of mosquito-eating fish can happily live together. So before stocking a pond, make sure they won’t eat each other.
Common Pleco (Hypostomus Plecostumus)
The common pleco is also known as suckermouth catfish. They are bottom feeders used to keep algae in check. They are an excellent second or third breed of fish to have in your pond to help with mosquitoes but should not be your primary weapon. However, like most fish on this list, do ensure it remains in your pond and doesn’t get “rehomed” in the wild.
The golden orfe is a beautiful and very chilled fish. They love to dine on snails and mosquito larvae, making them well suited for your mosquito control cause. However, despite being easygoing and non-aggressive, they are known to eat tiny fish. So best to choose companions like big goldfish or koi.
Yes, the common goldfish do eat mosquito larvae. They were part of an experiment in Madagascar in 1917 and were highly effective. Permaculture enthusiasts have found that darker breeds, such as comets and shubunkins have higher success than their brighter cousins. Just be sure to keep goldish in contained ponds and never release into the wild.
Guppies are an excellent choice for smaller ponds where there isn’t big predatory fish hanging about. Then again, a predator or two might be wise given how well guppies reproduce. Despite their tiny size, they work hard to keep mosquitos under control, nearly eating their body weight in larvae a day.
Minnows eat mosquito larvae and are also prone to being eaten. This means you may need to restock them every year or so, but they are not expensive. Plus, it is easier than dealing with overpopulation, which often happens with other mosquito-eating fish.
Also, should a few accidentally get out into the wild, they will probably be eaten before becoming a problem. This makes them one of the more ecologically safer fish choices.
Mosquitofish (Gambusia Affinis)
Mosquitofish are probably the most effective mosquito predator you can find. However, these fish are not without their drawbacks, so do consider them carefully before acquiring them. They do, however, eat mosquito larvae, 100-500 a day. They also eat water beetles, mayflies, and caddisfly.
It is crucial that you never release any mosquitofish out into the wild. They can destroy ecosystems if they get into an area they don’t belong.
Newts: Mosquito Predator
Newts love to snack on mosquitos. There are many varieties, primarily found in the Northern Hemisphere: Asia, Europe, North America, and northern Africa. Unlike frogs and other members of the salamander family, newts tend to survive living with mosquito-eating fish. This is due to their toxic skin secretions that put fish off.
Turtles: Mosquito Predator
Water-loving turtles, such as the red-eared slider, enjoy munching on mosquito larvae. Studies have shown they’re pretty good at their job, too. However, reluctance to use them comes from their ability to be carriers of salmonella. Also, they sometimes require supplemental feeding if the habitat cannot meet their needs.
It is important to research turtle breeds first, as not all are proven mosquito-eaters. Nor do all turtles love swimming in ponds. Also, there are often laws about using turtles that are not local breeds. For example, the red-eared slider is a South and Central American breed and illegal in some parts of the world, such as South Africa.
Attract Bats For Mosquito Control
Evidence of bats eating mosquitoes was scant until 2018, when a study was published that little brown and big brown bats ate a significant number of the pests. Before this, opinions were divided on if bats were important to mosquito control. However, little brown bats eat more than big bats. This is both due to agility and calorie needs.
However, like birds, you have to make your property bat-friendly if you hope to attract them.
Install Bat Homes
Like bird boxes, bats can be attracted by putting up ready-made homes. You can buy them, but be warned, not all that are sold are actually up to bats’ standards (they’re picky). Thus, The National Wildlife Federation has free instructions on how to make your own. Bat Conservation International is another excellent resource.
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Last update on 2024-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Leave Dead Trees
Dead trees are dream homes to bats. So if you have some deadwood on your property, leave it be.
Plant Bat-Friendly Flowers
Bats love flowers, especially night-blooming plants. These fragrant blooms attract insects and make a nice snack shop for the bat. If you have a choice in colors, select paler blooms. Bat-friendly flowers include:
- Evening Primrose
- French Marigold
- Night-Blooming Jessamine
- Night-Blooming Water Lily
Provide Water Sources
Bats need a lot of water to stay alive. Birdbaths and ponds are great ways to help keep bats hydrated. Just remember to change the birdbath water at least every 5 days.
Attract Birds For Mosquito Control
Many birds enjoy snacking on mosquitoes. North American examples include:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Barn Swallows
- Blackpool Warblers
- Downy Woodpeckers
- Eastern Bluebirds
- House Wrens
- Purple Martins
- Red-Eyed Vireos
- Yellow Warblers
The trick is to make your property attractive to the mosquito-eating birds in your area. Some birds, like purple martins, can be tempted with bird boxes. Brush piles and low-lying shrubs make ideal places for house wrens to hang out. Nighthawks like level areas to nest, such as flat rooftops, whereas Baltimore orioles prefer hanging pouches.
Keep in mind not all nesting boxes are the same. Nor do all birds like the same box conditions. For example, if you are trying to entice a woodpecker, the box needs to be stuffed with items like woodchips for them to “clear out,” or they’ll shun your offering. They also prefer their boxes to be attached to trees, if possible.
Grow Mosquito-Repelling Plants
Growing mosquito-repelling plants is an excellent idea, but it is only the first step. This is because most mosquito-repelling plants require you to release their essential oils to work. Sometimes it is as simple as tearing open a leaf. Other tricks include:
- Tossing some leaves and stems into the BBQ or campfire.
- Extract the oils
- Chopping up stems and leaves and scattering them around your property
Examples of mosquito repellent plants include:
- American Beautyberry
- Basil, especially Thai basil
- Bee Balm
- Citronella Grass (not the plant)
- Lemon Balm
7 Tips For Dealing With Mosquitoes Now
While all the above suggestions will help control mosquitoes in the future, they all take time. Also, some suggestions, like attracting birds and bats, rely on a bit of luck. Sometimes wild animals will be fickle and not arrive, no matter how nicely you roll out the proverbial welcome mat. Thus, here are some ideas for more immediate help.
- Install screens in windows and doors
- Consider screening in porches
- Wear light clothing, preferably long-sleeved and to the ankle
- Use mosquito netting for beds to protect while you sleep
- Mosquito headgear when working in high pest areas of your property
- Organic Mosquito dunks for ponds and water tanks
- Use natural repellents such as lemon eucalyptus oil
- Kills mosquitoes before they're old enough to bite
- The only product with bti, bacteria toxic only to mosquito larvae
- Lasts for 30 days and treats 100 square feet of surface water
Last update on 2024-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
It is possible to control mosquitos naturally while embracing permaculture. First, eliminate as much stagnate water as possible. Next, turn your pond into a mosquito trap rather than a nursery. Also, look into attracting more mosquito predators to your property. In the meantime, screens, nettings, and natural repellents will help.