Best Mosquito Traps for Your Yard

| 7/30/2014 11:06:00 AM

Every summer, I find being outdoors after dusk impossible because of mosquitoes. Is there a natural spray or trap for mosquito control?Homemade Mosquito Trap

Several synthetic and organic pesticides will poison mosquitoes on contact, but they’ll provide only minimal relief. The best way to reduce mosquito populations in your yard is to eradicate breeding sites and also install both passive and active mosquito traps.

Mosquitoes need water to breed — their larvae are the “wigglers” you can see in neglected buckets of water if you look closely — so you can naturally limit mosquito swarms by eliminating breeding sites in your neighborhood. To do this, always empty water from open containers, old tires and other potential breeding grounds within five days after a heavy rain. Add a product called Mosquito Dunks (made with Bacillus thuringiensis) to rain barrels and other standing-water supplies for a safe and easy way to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. Or, let fish do the trick — preferably native minnows. You can purchase traps at a sporting goods store that have been designed to collect the minnows from a pond, and then release them to feed on larvae in your rain barrel or water garden.

You won’t need many minnows — fish are some of the best mosquito traps available. One fathead minnow can eat 74 mosquito larvae per day. A study from Rutgers University recommends 10 gambusia minnows for one standard rain barrel, and 35 to 100 for a water garden, depending on its size. Similar stocking rates would apply to arroyo chub minnows or fathead minnows.

Some of the best mosquito traps use multiple attractants — light, carbon dioxide and an attractant called “octenol” — to lure mosquitoes and then suck them in with a fan. A University of North Dakota professor of biology collected data in 2002 showing that the Mosquito Magnet caught 8,000 female mosquitoes per night during peak-summer season. The Mosquito Magnet is pricey, starting at $400. The cheapest Mega-Catch model costs much less — $150 with lures — and is a good fit for smaller yards. Shop carefully: Some anti-mosquito products actually spray chemical pesticides into the air — and those pesticides could be toxic to you, too.

Photo courtesy Mega-Catch: The Mega-Catch Pro 900 ALPHA mosquito trap is an affordable and effective trap for smaller yards.

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on .

8/28/2014 9:22:19 AM

@Amanda, here is the response to your question from the article's author: The surface of the rain barrel or other container will provide an ample oxygen supply for the minnows, which eat algae, so you won't have to feed them, either. Using local minnows is key. To learn more, research "Fathead Minnow Information" from New York and from Rutgers University. Thanks!

8/13/2014 12:27:27 PM

Do you need to aerate the water in the rain barrel somehow if you have minnows in there? What would you do in the winter?

8/11/2014 3:13:13 PM

I have the Mega-Catch model pictured above. Although it catches some mosquitoes, it has not been effective against the Asian Tiger Mosquito (ATM) that is terrorizing my neighborhood and spreading across the country. As part of a research project, we have tried many attractants, but none have worked for these tiny monsters!

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