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Take the sting out of mosquito season with these tips. Plus: Plant citronella? Or burn its oil?

Q: I’ve got a pretty big backyard with plenty of grass, trees and shade. My husband and I really enjoy hosting backyard barbecues and parties. However … THE MOSQUITOES!!! Each year we’re plagued with nothing short of a small legion of those tiny demons. In the last couple years we’ve worried about it less, but I think that was due to the drought. I just know they’re going to come back this year in full force. Especially since we have a pond in our backyard. I’d like to know some proactive steps that I can take, and perhaps some reactive ones, I’d rather be safe than sorry. On a final note, I’ve heard a lot of conflicting information on the effectiveness of planting citronellas in the yard, and that’s why I stopped my husband when I caught him trying to order 15-plus citronellas online. I want to seriously make sure that they’re effective at warding off mosquitoes before I let them compromise the beauty of my backyard.

A: You’re not wrong, now that the drought is over, we’re definitely in for it this summer in terms of mosquito population.

The best way to reduce the mosquito population in your area/yard is to ensure that there’s no stagnant water around for them to lay their eggs. This means ensuring you don’t have any open buckets of water around your property, but you should also check and make sure there are no other smaller containers that could have water, such as discarded bottles or cans around the premises.

If you have a bird bath, you should try to change out the water at least once a week.

If you have a pond, there are special pesticides you could use, but generally just keeping your pond free of vegetation and algae is the best practice. If you don’t have one already, you might want to consider adding a small fountain to your pond, which would keep the water moving constantly, making it harder for mosquitoes to lay their eggs there.

Now, about citronellas. There’s definitely conflicting studies and information about how effective having just the plant physically present is, but most would agree that the oils that come from the plant do help ward off mosquitoes. The plants themselves aren’t as effective. A more creative method I’d recommend is to use backyard tiki torches with fuel that contains citronella oil as an easier way to ward off mosquitoes. The same principle applies to candles that contain citronella oil.

If nothing else, you can always find a good pest control service by going to bbb.org to come and spray your yard before a party.

As always, check bbb.org to find more tips like these and more, courtesy of your local Better Business Bureau.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the BetterBusiness Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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