Let’s face it – mosquitoes can quickly turn an enjoyable outing into an itchy catastrophe. These pests thrive during the warmer months of the year and peak mosquito season runs from March to September. They can multiply quickly, making them extremely difficult to eliminate. Besides causing itchy, painful bites, mosquitoes are also known to transmit serious and potentially deadly diseases like Zika and West Nile virus. These can pose a serious threat to humans worldwide. Mosquito prevention doesn’t have to be complicated, however. Here are 9 simple steps to prevent mosquitoes around your home.

1. Get rid of standing water

Mosquitoes lay eggs and breed in standing water. In fact, they only need about an inch of water to lay these eggs. Eliminating areas of standing water around your home is one of the most effective ways to prevent mosquitoes. Turn over anything that can collect standing water such as buckets, old tires, trash can lids, tarps, furniture, toys, boats, and trailers. Fill in any tree stump holes with mortar.

2. Clean out gutters

Leaves and debris can build up in your gutters and downspouts causing water to back up throughout the system. Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in this little bit of standing water. Make sure to keep your gutter system maintained and clear of debris. Ensure that downspouts are also clear and directing water away from the foundation of your home.

3. Weekly water changes

Identify and monitor any permanent sources of standing water outside your home like bird baths, rain barrels, plant containers, and pet bowls. Be sure to change the water in these at least once a week. Don’t leave pet bowls out overnight. This interrupts the breeding cycle and helps disrupt the life cycle of the mosquito.

4. Level it out

Pay attention to any areas around your home that are prone to flooding or water accumulation after rainfall or watering. Drain any of these areas when possible. Consider filling in these areas with dirt to help level them out and prevent standing water in the future.

5. Keep pools maintained

Mosquitoes can breed in any water source, even swimming pools if they are allowed to become stagnant. To help prevent this, keep up with the water treatment schedule for the pool. Make sure pumps and filters are installed and working properly and that water is circulating. Empty kiddie pools and turn them over when they are not in use. Trim any weeds that grow up around the edges of water features. Consider adding a fountain to your water features to add water movement and prevent stagnation. You may also consider adding minnows or goldfish to your pond or water feature as they eat mosquito larvae. Finally, consider adding a larvacide to your pond or water feature to kill any mosquitoes before they reach adulthood.

6. Cut back landscaping

Mosquitoes are typically active at dawn and dusk and like to retreat to the shade to escape the heat of midday. They hide in hedges, bushes, and tall grass to accomplish this. By decreasing the amount of shady areas they have access to, mosquitoes will be less likely to hide out in your yard during the day. Keep hedges, shrubs, and bushes trimmed back and mow your grass regularly. Keep gardens and flower beds weeded.

7. Use protection

The best way to prevent mosquito bites is to avoid mosquitoes in the first place. Most mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk so try to avoid being outdoors at these times if possible. If you must go outside when mosquitoes are active, wear long pants and long sleeves. Apply a mosquito repellent to exposed skin and to your clothing. If you wish to avoid chemical repellents, try a natural mosquito repellent instead.

8. Contact mosquito control

Some areas like the woods, ponds, or lakes can be a haven for mosquitoes; but these areas are much too large to treat yourself. If you have areas such as this on your property, consider contacting your local Mosquito Control agency for possible treatment.

9. Call the professionals

If all else fails or you just want to stay one step ahead of the mosquitoes this season, contact a professional pest control company for a professional mosquito treatment. Different companies offer different services such as traditional mosquito control or green mosquito control. A professional technician knows which treatment to use for your situation and also how much to apply to effectively eliminate mosquitoes while not harming any other critters around your home.