Due to West Nile and Zika viruses, mosquitoes pose a great health threat. Still, spraying pesticides on your yard usually isn’t a long-term solution, since they are effective for only a short period of time and don’t affect larvae. Widespread pesticide application can also kill beneficial insects and mosquito predators like dragonflies and beetles.

How to Stop Them

The most effective personal repellents contain DEET, a commonly used but controversial chemical applied directly to human skin and clothing. However, DEET has been linked to toxic reactions ranging from skin disorders to seizures, and its use—especially on and by children—has been challenged. Insect repellents that contain 30 percent active-ingredient DEET are as effective as those with higher concentrations.

There is a vast array of products, from wristbands to speakers that emit ultrasonic noise to electronic repellers to aromatic plants that claim to eliminate or reduce the presence of mosquitoes in yards and other areas. The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program says this about them:

“Researchers have shown that all these methods are of little or no value in repelling mosquitoes. Oil of citronella, which is extracted from Andropogon nardus, has long been claimed to repel mosquitoes. Burning citronella candles or mosquito coils works best if there is relatively little air movement, but these products are only for use outdoors, which makes them mostly worthless. Electric bug zappers that are used to kill pest insects are probably counterproductive because many of the insects caught by these traps are those that prey on mosquitoes.”

So what should you do to get skeeters to scram?

Remain indoors in the early morning and evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

Consider screening in your porch or deck.

Maintain window screens and doors, and close doors quickly upon entry or exit.

Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and larvae live in the water, remove or regularly drain objects that retain water. Empty trash cans and saucers beneath flowerpots. Clean gutters, birdbaths, and other areas where water pools.

Hiring Help

We say don’t bother. Companies can knock down a mosquito population by spraying your yard and gardens, but it’s at best a temporary measure and will kill off lots of other insects that aren’t bugging you.