What’s the big deal with mosquito bites? In general, they are more of an annoyance than anything. There are few things worse than scratching a dozen or more bites at the end of an otherwise fun day. But there are some health concerns when it comes to mosquito bites, even in North America.
Around the world, mosquitoes have been known to spread diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, and yellow fever. Most of these diseases are prevalent mainly in subtropical regions, but in North America mosquitoes have been most recently responsible for the spread of the West Nile virus. They are also able to transmit heartworm to our furry canine friends. Keeping mosquitoes at bay is not only a way to spare us the nuisance of them, but also the danger of potential diseases they can spread.
With mosquito safety in mind, let’s discuss ways to keep these critters at bay without compromising our health and the health of our loved ones. Let’s break this down into three categories: the outdoor DIY mosquito trap, the indoor DIY mosquito trap, and ways to repel mosquitoes from landing and biting.
The Outdoor DIY Mosquito Trap
The High-velocity Fan DIY Mosquito Trap
The best mosquito trap will be one that captures a lot of mosquitoes and this DIY mosquito trap does just that. This is a trap that requires the use of a high-velocity fan, which may be a little more on the pricey side than a regular fan, but if it can catch hundreds, even thousands of mosquitoes a night, don’t you think it’s worth it? For this trap, you will need the following ingredients/supplies:
- A high-velocity fan with a metal casing
- Strong magnets
- A fine mesh screen
- 70% isopropyl alcohol diluted 1:1 with water
- A spray bottle
To make this DIY mosquito trap, follow these steps:
1. Set up the fan in your desired location.
2. Use the magnets to secure the mesh screen to the back of the fan.
3. Turn on the fan and wait; hundreds of mosquitoes will be pulled onto the mesh.
4. Put your isopropyl alcohol in the spray bottle with an equal amount of water.
5. With the fan still running, spray the mosquitoes trapped on the mesh (avoid spraying the fan motor).
6. The shut off the fan (unplugging it is the safest).
7. And clean the now-dead mosquitoes off the screen.
This DIY mosquito trap can kill thousands of mosquitoes per night, especially if you have more than one set up. Over a few days you can literally rid your immediate area of mosquitoes, at least for the short-term.
You can leave the dead mosquitoes out and let the alcohol evaporate off them. Then they become food for local critters, like lizards and other bugs. Watch how to make this trap and the solar-powered trap (discussed below) here:
Solar-powered DIY Mosquito Trap
This is the same basic idea as the high-velocity fan method of catching mosquitoes, but is designed to operate off-the-grid, which is ideal when you live in a rural area where power outages are common or if you do live off-the-grid. You will need:
- A high-volume bilge fan motor
- A deep-cycle battery
- A solar panel (80 watt panel will run the fan on its own)
- A fine mesh screen
- Tape or other securing material
- A spray bottle of 70 % isopropyl alcohol diluted 1:1 with water
The difference in this setup is that you have to have the system wired properly and you need to place the mesh screen at the front of the fan. Once you catch mosquitoes, you spray them as in the high-velocity fan method and discard them as food for other insects and animals.
The Indoor DIY Mosquito Trap
The Plastic Bottle/Yeast DIY Mosquito Trap
The most popular DIY mosquito trap and one that is makes a great indoor mosquito trap is one that is made from a 2-liter soda or juice bottle and a few other materials and ingredients. To make this DIY mosquito trap, you will need:
- 2-liter plastic bottle (e.g. soda or juice)
- Black paint or covering (e.g. plastic or electrical tape)
- 1 cup hot water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 gram of yeast
Follow these steps to make the DIY mosquito trap:
- Cut the bottle in half
- Mix the brown sugar into the hot water
- Let the mixture cool and then pour it into the bottom half of the bottle
- Add the yeast; do NOT stir it in!
- Invert the top of the bottle and place it in the bottom half
- Tape the sections together and cover or paint the bottom half of the bottle in black (a color that attracts mosquitoes)
The solution in the bottle should be changed every two weeks. The yeast will create carbon dioxide, which attracts mosquitoes because it mimics our exhaled breath. They get into the bottle, but they can’t get back out. This is how you make it:
Ways to Repel Mosquitoes
Many people prefer to repel mosquitoes, rather than try to deal with them using a DIY mosquito trap. There are many ways to accomplish this goal using natural materials and they are fine to use both indoors and outdoors. In particular, there are a number of plants and essential oils that are very effective in repelling mosquitoes. These can be used regardless of where you are, whether you are hiking and not in the vicinity of a mosquito trap or in conjunction with a mosquito trap in your back yard. Some repellents you put on your skin or clothes and some are plants you have in your backyard or patio area. Let’s take a look at both options.
Essential Oil Repellent
A fabulous way to repel mosquitoes is to make your own mosquito repellent from essential oils. There are a number of essential oils that will work as a mosquito repellent, including:
- Neem oil
- Cedar wood
- Lemon grass
- Lemon balm
You can easily make your own mosquito repellent with the following ingredients:
- One or more vials of the essential oils listed above
- Witch hazel
- Distilled water
- Vegetable glycerin (optional)
To prepare the mosquito repellent, follow these steps:
- Fill a spray bottle halfway with distilled water
- Fill the remainder with witch hazel to within ½ a finger-width (about ½ cm) from the top
- Add ½ teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and 30-50 drops of your essential oils in any combination you prefer
- Shake and spray on the skin
Herbal Repellent #1
You will need:
- 3-4 tablespoons of the dried herbs from any of the essential oil source plants listed above
- 1 cup water
- Medical-grade alcohol
Follow these steps to make the mosquito repellent:
- Boil the water
- Add the dried herbs
- Let cool
- Mix in a small amount of alcohol
- Put in a spray bottle and spray on skin
Herbal Repellent #2
This is an alcohol-free option. You will need:
- 10 tablespoons of the dried herbs from any of the essential oil source plants listed above
- 1 liter apple cider vinegar
Follow these steps to make the mosquito repellent:
- Place dried herbs in a jar
- Add the cider vinegar
- Cover with an air-tight lid and let sit for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily and keeping it cool
- Pour into spray bottle diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio
- Spray on skin
There are a number of plants that, when kept in containers on your patio or in your outdoor or indoor sitting area, will repel mosquitoes quite effectively, eliminating or reducing the need for a DIY mosquito trap. The more plants the better and remember that they will also look pretty and add to the beauty of your space. Any of the following plants can be kept around:
- Lemon balm
- Lemon thyme
Notice the trend? Many of these plants are the same as those listed above as sources for the essential oils. In addition, simply rubbing the leaves of any of these plants, as well as pineapple leaves and vanilla beans, on the skin will help repel mosquitoes. The catch here is that you need to reapply every half hour.
Keep it Natural, Keep it Safe
In the end, anyone who lives in areas that are infested with mosquitoes, either seasonally or year-round, will appreciate the need for a way to keep mosquitoes at bay without putting on dangerous chemicals, such as DEET, or wearing long sleeves and pants when it’s hotter than Hades outside.
The ideas above for building a DIY mosquito trap and for making your own mosquito repellent are perfect because they are simple, relatively inexpensive, and safe to use even on children. The best mosquito trap or repellent is one that is natural and not harmful to people. Of course, always make sure there are no allergies to the plants or essential oils being used in the mosquito repellents and be careful when making the mosquito traps because you don’t want any injuries.
Most importantly, when you have successfully made a DIY mosquito trap and/or a mosquito repellent that you can use on the whole family, you will be able to once again enjoy the outdoors and indoors without worrying about being eaten alive. Wouldn’t that be a great way to spend the summer?