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Science-backed tricks to keep mosquitoes out of your yard

Science-backed tricks to keep mosquitoes out of your yard
Science-backed tricks to keep mosquitoes out of your yard 03:21

MINNEAPOLIS -- As we move through spring and summer, your chances of getting bit by mosquitoes go way up, especially as research shows that mosquito season is actually significantly longer than it was decades ago. That has many Minnesotans looking for new ways to keep them away. 

Mosquitoes target their victims by the odors and gases we produce, such as carbon dioxide, sweat, and even smelly feet. Theoretically, you can outrun mosquitoes but that isn't going to work during dinner on your deck. People often turn to natural alternatives to keep the bloodsuckers away including plants. Do mosquito-repelling plants work?

"Believe it or not when the EPA registers these (plants) they don't register it for efficacy, so it does not have to work. The levels in the plants are not high enough for mosquito abatement to make a mosquito fly away," said Vera Krischik, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota.

Most of the research touting plants repelling mosquitoes has been conducted with plant extracts and oils, not the plants themselves.

As for those TikTok and YouTube videos where we see people taking plants like lavender or catnip, crushing it up, and applying to directly to their skin?

"No benefit. You'd probably get dermatitis and would have to go to the hospital because you're itching so badly," said Krischik.

Instead, Krischik recommends focusing on the removal of standing water.

"They feed on the bacteria, the crud. So, what you think is dirty water that nobody's going to visit, that is their favorite. A nice clean fountain, mosquito free. An old tire and old pot with dirt and stuff, mosquito heaven," explained Krischik.

To keep mosquitoes from crashing your deck time, smoke them out.

"Mosquitoes, bees, they get very quiet with smoke. They don't fly. That is the best way to keep mosquitoes off you on a deck. Make a little fire that makes smoke. Put a fan to move it around. I promise you there will be no mosquitoes," said Krischik.

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