If you enjoy watching the birds and listening to them sing in your yard or garden every day, then draining your bird bath or fountain is the last thing you want to do. However, these beautiful lawn decorations and centerpieces can attract hundreds of mosquitoes, making your time outside unbearable. Finding a successful way to eradicate your lawn of mosquitoes for the long term while still being safe for birds and pets may take some trial and error to find a solution that works for you, but it will allow both you and your feathered friends to enjoy your yard, garden, bird bath, and water fountain much more.
Why are Mosquitoes Drawn to Bird Baths and Water Fountains?
Just like moths are drawn to light sources, mosquitoes are enticed by standing water. Bird baths and water fountains are the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, so you can quickly go from a few annoying pests to a few hundred. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, which is why they are so drawn to bird baths and large fountains. Mosquito swarms can quickly grow in numbers after larvae hatch, so it is important to make it difficult for their eggs to mature or be laid in the first place.
Mosquitoes can carry and spread various diseases, such as malaria, Zika virus, or dengue, making them a larger concern than simply wanting to avoid itchy insect bites. It’s important to try to keep them away from your outdoor living spaces and out of your home using the practices below.
6 Tips to Keep Mosquitoes Away
Change the Water Regularly
Mosquitoes frequently breed in the water of a bird bath, but their eggs don’t typically hatch into adults for approximately 7-10 days. By replacing the old water with fresh water every 5 days, you will prevent mosquito eggs from maturing and hatching. Fresh water will help keep mosquitoes away and is better for the birds. By replacing the water, you are also cleaning the bird bath of any leaves or items that have fallen inside it that may act as food or shade for the mosquitoes and their larvae. Clean water is better for the birds that visit your bird bath, anyway. Use the old water to water grass, plants, or flowers in the garden to keep from wasting it.
Keep the Water Moving
Mosquitoes require calm, still water to lay their eggs, making bird baths appealing. Consider adding an agitator of some kind to keep the water circulating and to ultimately inhibit mosquito breeding. Integrate a small waterfall into your birth bath or add a water pump to keep the water moving. The sound of running water may even attract more birds to your bird bath.
Water pumps in fountains will keep the water in motion, so fountains should be run on a regular, daily basis, even if it’s only for an hour or two. Some pumps have timer capabilities to allow you to program it to run at the same time for the same length of time every day without having to manually turn it on. Other pumps can have a timer connected to it later if you decide to add one.
Keep the Water Bacteria-Free
Commercial bacterial insecticides are often powerful enough to kill bacteria but do not affect birds or other creatures that may visit a fountain or bird bath. Try ones that include Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelis (BTI), as this bacteria is effective in killing mosquitoes. These can be purchased at most gardening centers. Chemical insecticides, including bleach, may cause harm to the birds that visit, so please avoid using these chemicals and use caution when using bleach to clean a bird bath.
BTI is also known as “mosquito dunks” and is very effective in removing mosquito larvae from the applied areas. This is a low-maintenance solution, as it can last up to a month, so you will only have to continue adding it every 30 days. However, it is not a successful long-term solution, so it is best to combine this method with another one, such as keeping the water moving. Be sure to follow all instructions regarding usage and measurement recommendations for the specific insecticide you opt to use. Chemical solutions may be better-suited if you are leaving your fountain or bird bath stagnant or unattended for days at a time due to vacations or absences.
Keep Your Entire Yard Mosquito-Free (Not Just the Bird Bath)
It’s likely that your bird bath is not the only thing that is attracting mosquitoes and causing an infestation. In addition to taking care of your bird bath, it is important to care for any other water-holding items or to deal with standing water in the entire yard or garden. All garbage cans and outdoor containers should be closed securely and fully dried. Drain all stagnant water between landscaping rocks or decorations and fill the spaces with sand to prevent them from filling again.
Grow Mosquito-Repelling Plants Near the Fountain or Bird Bath
If you don’t want to use any chemicals in your water fountain or bird bath, growing insect-repellent plants near it may also work. Plants alone are not guaranteed to work, especially if you are trying to protect large fountains, but it will help decrease the amount of mosquitoes that roam about.
Marigolds are a great option. Mosquitoes find the vibrant yellow and orange colors and the smell to be unappealing. Planting marigolds around the fountain or bird bath as close as possible in the ground or in planters is effective in reducing the nearby mosquito population. You can also plant lavender, mint, jasmine, or rose geranium, as these also have an insect-repelling element.
Bonus tip: Marigolds are also great for keeping deer, rabbits, and other animals out of gardens and flower beds.
Try Natural Remedies (And Help Save the Environment)
Believe it or not, things you already have in your cupboard might be a great mosquito repellant. For example, add a little bit of cinnamon oil to the water in your bird bath. You will only need 1-2 teaspoons for the entire bird bath. This will create a thin layer on the water that will kill larvae and prevent mosquitoes from breeding there. Sprinkling a little bit of cinnamon powder into the water may also have a similar effect. Other vegetable oils can be just as effective if you don’t have cinnamon oil. Apple cider vinegar and other natural treatments can also work, but they are typically only effective for around 15 hours. A traditional insect repellent can work as a short-time solution, too. Note: Never put oils or chemicals in your pond or fountain if there are fish or frogs living in it.
Some birds around your birth bath or water fountain may consume small amounts of mosquitoes and their eggs, but they will not eat enough to solve a recurring insect issue. If possible, consider adding frogs or mosquito-eating fish, such as minnows, Koi, Shubunkin Goldfish, Sarasa Comets, or guppy fish to your pond or fountain to keep the insects at bay. Dragonflies and even bats will often live in or near your yard as well and will eat up lots of mosquitoes and will not harm the environment or other animals. These animals will help keep the natural ecosystem alive and thriving while also helping to rid your yard and neighborhood of pesky insects.
Even though you can’t stop mosquitoes from gathering in swarms outside during the warmer seasons, there are ways you can try to keep their numbers at bay near your water fountains and bird baths. There are several easy ways to keep mosquitoes away, some requiring little maintenance. Keeping your fountain or bird bath clean and replacing the water frequently will help a lot on its own. Using other natural methods will ensure that your family, pets, and the birds and animals that visit these spaces will stay safe and healthy, too. If something doesn’t work for the mosquitoes in your neighborhood, try another method or try combining a few, if possible and notice as these pesky, flying insects disappear.