Jim, I loved your analogy to air conditioning the outdoors. To expect to totally eliminate mosquitoes in oneâ€™s yard seems unrealistic. Repelling and discouraging them seems more reasonable. Donâ€™t do things to invite them- I donâ€™t mean stop breathing because they are attracted by carbon dioxide. The problem seems to require more than one strategy to be successful; there is no one easy solution. No spray/fog, organic or toxic. is going to be effective 100%, in my experience.
Citrocide in combination with vanilla/orange/rosemary spray works well for us. We spray the yard with citrocide (now Natural Guard) the morning before an event. The label does say it is most effective after it is dry. It appears to work better sometimes more than others, for some reason. Perhaps because dew begins to form in the evening and wets the solution? We provide the v/o/r oil for guest, who love it, btw. Some swear by Skin So Soft and dryer sheets, though I dislike the smell of the former and wouldnâ€™t think of rubbing a dryer sheet on my body. You could provide all three options for quests as one may work better than another for any given person.
I also swallow a crushed clove of garlic 10 minutes before working in the yard, and apply the oil spray. Iâ€™ve sat and watched when the mosquitoes were thick and they buzz but donâ€™t landâ€¦ just like the Deep Woods Off commercial. You could put out a bowl of garlic cloves AND a bowl of mints.
You may have to take more garlic and reapply the spray if youâ€™re out for a long time or are heavily sweating.
Have you considered your landscaping in terms of encouraging or discouraging them? Like thinning trees where the shade is deep; thinning ivy and other ground cover which provides a moist environment that they like (roaches too); cedar mulch in beds; apparently hostas seem to encourage them as well, while plants like lemon grass, citronella geraniums, Agastache cana, Grey Santiolina, garlic, cedar, camphor, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, basil, verbena, lavender, etc (lush herb garden) seem to discourage them. Re: roaches- I rented a room in a house that I quickly learned was heavily infested with roaches. I cleaned the room top to bottom with a natural soap to which I'd added rosemary and other essential oils. My nightly ritual was to spray around both door jams with a strong solution of rosemary oil and water. No exaggeration- I never saw a roach in my room, dead or alive.
Keeping the air moving is an excellent deterrent. They donâ€™t like wind. So consider installing a large, powerful outdoor ceiling fan if you have a patio and/or use box fans around the areas where people will be sitting. A fan blowing on the food table is also the best way to deter flies.
Iâ€™ve heard that a yellow bug light will discourage them as opposed to a regular bulb-haven't tried it. And that people should refrain from wearing perfume-add this and other suggestions to your invitation. There are mosquito traps but I havenâ€™t tried them. They are pricey, but another apparently effective technique to add to your arsenal if you can afford one. http://www.mosquito.org/MosqInfo/Traps.htm
I also use a bug zapper, inspite of the negative commentary about them. I see lots of dead mosquitoes on mine. Perhaps they are all males, doesn't matter to me. It is decreasing the population which can't be a bad thing.
Encourage mosquito eating allies like bats, wipporwills, purple martins, tree swallows, and frogs. Some sites Iâ€™ve visited poo-pooed this, but they are also supporting the use of chemicals. Who knows, but it couldnâ€™t hurt. While they arenâ€™t going to completely eradicate them, in larger numbers they certainly might put a significant dent in the population. Encourage neighbors to do the same. Encourage POAs and cities to put up bat and bird houses around troublesome areas like ponds/marshes and use the dunks. If they aren't open to the dunks, then take it upon yourself. Walk by and toss some in every few days. Enlist your neighbors to do the same or share the expense. We could definitely use more birds and frogs. I rarely see a frog and they were everywhere when I was a kid. I wonder if they could be bred in mass numbers and reintroduced where the populations are low or non existent. My grandson is 10 and heâ€™s seen only 3 frogs in his lifetime.
So, bottomline, one technique is not going to be effective. When itâ€™s mosquito season experiment with many techniques until you strike on the set of techniques that work best for you. I hope you wonâ€™t continue to poison yourself and your guests and the environment.
The alternatives maybe time consuming, and/or seem troublesome, but one thing we absolutely know- they arenâ€™t going to sicken or kill humans or other life forms. Sometimes we have to decide to be inconvenienced in order to protect ourselves and others from the undesirable beasties.