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How to Send Summer Pests Packing

Tips to help keep your summer free of pesky pests, from mosquitoes to mice

By Bill Melville

It's summertime and the living is easy—for pests, that is. Just as the weather gets warm enough for backyard barbecues, pests emerge to hamper all that fun in the sun. From flying and stinging pests to those notorious black flies, it can be hard to enjoy your backyard oasis if you're swatting at bugs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep pests from ruining your well-deserved rest and relaxation by the pool or on the patio. While it is difficult to fully eliminate pests from your outdoor hot spots, you can help take back your yard with a few common sense solutions. An added bonus: Most techniques for controlling outdoor pests are preventive in nature, meaning you can rely less on chemical treatments.

Tips for preventing mosquitoes

Nothing ruins summertime fun faster than scratching insect bites. Emerging in May and lasting through early July, black flies can cause red, itchy, swollen bumps after biting. Mosquito bites cause the same symptoms, but are more dangerous because of the insect's ability to transmit West Nile virus.

While black flies are prevalent in Canada's cottage country, mosquitoes threaten an even larger part of Canada. They need only a thimble full of water to breed, so any home with a small amount of water is at risk.

The most effective way to prevent mosquitoes is to eliminate potential breeding and development sites. While mosquitoes won't breed in a chlorinated swimming pool, water features and other sources of standing water, such as bird baths or planting containers, are still at risk. Use the following tips to cut out unnecessary moisture around your home.

  • Clean up toys and empty planters that collect water.
  • Introduce gambusia, or 'mosquito fish,' to water features such as ponds. These helpful fish feed on mosquito larvae.
  • Keep vines and bushes a sufficient distance from the pool deck. Mosquitoes are attracted to nectar and love to hang out on the under side of leaves, particularly ivy.

In addition to managing water areas, you should also mitigate other mosquito attractants.

  • Wear light colours when outdoors, with long sleeves. Dark colours trap heat and attract mosquitoes.
  • Install yellow or sodium vapour bulbs in outdoor lights to deter mosquitoes from the area surrounding the pool and patio. Unlike incandescent lights, these bulbs do not attract mosquitoes.
  • Install mesh screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering indoor areas (look for a No. 16 mesh for maximum protection).
  • Head indoors—or at least to a screened-in porch—during the early morning and evening hours when black flies and mosquitoes prefer to feed. If you must be outside during dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves, pants and insect repellant.
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