Mosquitoes: According to the CDC, the most important thing you can do to keep mosquitoes out of your yard is to eliminate their preferred breeding grounds. Keep your gutters clean and your birdbaths, old tires, wheelbarrows, and swimming pool covers free of standing water. Clear away ivy and decaying leaves, too.
As far as your deck or patio is concerned, some repellent products work much better than others. When our testers tried out two area repellents—citronella candles and a battery-powered diffuser that blows out geraniol—we found they were ineffective at keeping mosquitoes away. An oscillating pedestal fan did much better. When set on high, it cut mosquito landings by 45 to 65 percent for the people sitting close to it.
Mosquito traps that use fans, electric grids, or adhesive pads to capture and kill mosquitoes are also somewhat effective. (They often attract mosquitoes, and they kill the ones that come into contact with them.) But the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) says it’s unclear whether that translates into a noticeable reduction in the overall mosquito population because new mosquitoes can move in fairly quickly to fill the void.
You might also try using LED or yellow lightbulbs on your porch and around your house.
Our safety experts warn against using yard foggers or misters that spray insecticide. “You might inhale the chemicals, some of which have been linked to serious health problems, including endocrine disruption and neurological effects,” says Michael Hansen, PhD, Consumer Reports’ senior scientist.
Ticks: They like tall grass and lots of shade. So keep your lawn mowed, remove leaves and other debris, and try to let as much sun into your yard as possible. Consider putting up a fence around your property to keep out deer and other large animals that can carry ticks. And don’t forget to check your pets for ticks after they have been romping outside.