How To Keep Mosquitoes Out Of Rain Barrels

Rain barrels play an important in providing water for gardens and lawns, while at the same time conserving water.

An unfortunate consequence of saving standing water in a container is that mosquitoes are drawn to it like magnets.

Once the weather breaks and it becomes hot out, they start to appear. Their breeding cycle is very fast – only 7-10 days for a mosquito to change from an egg into an adult [1].

The good news is there are ways that you can still collect rainwater while at the same time preventing mosquitoes from breeding.

Step 1

Always choose a rain barrel that is specifically created for saving water, instead of utilizing garbage cans or buckets.

Rain barrels are designed to keep debris and bugs out of the water which helps stop mosquito invasions from occurring.

Step 2

Get a mosquito-proof screen that will cover and seal your rain barrel.

Most screens are made of mesh that is extremely fine, usually 1/16 inch thick. If your screen is properly installed and rain barrel lid is tightly secured, the chances of mosquitoes breeding inside your rain barrel is greatly reduced.

You can make your own screen as well.

You’ll need one roll of flexible screening (36 inch wide), some twine, and a packet of zip ties.

Cut a screen to cover the rain barrel top. Then, use twine and tie-downs to secure your flexible screen over the rain barrel top.

Step 3

There are additional measures that will assist you in the prevention of mosquito breeding.

Get a downspout diverter to direct water into either the normal drain system or the gutter rain barrel.  When the rain barrel’s full, the water will be forced down the downspout. 

Don’t have a diverter? Make an overflow device for your barrel out of overflow hose or a PVC pipe.

Step 4

Make sure that your rain barrel is sitting on a permeable surface so it won’t pool and establish a habitat for mosquitoes.

Always check to make sure that any water that is pooling on top of your barrel is removed at least twice a week.

Step 5

Check your rain barrel regularly for any leaks or cracks. All seals and fittings must be tight to prevent water from accumulating around the barrel base.

Check your pre-filters, barrel filters, downspouts and gutters to make sure they are free of all debris. Leaves and other organic material can make a water dam that’s perfect for mosquito larvae to grow.

Step 6

Make sure that your rain barrel is drained and completely cleaned out twice a year at a minimum.

Step 7

If, despite of all your efforts, mosquito larvae are still present, there are special larvicide products that are not harmful to plants and lawns [2].

Time-release tablets called mosquito dunks will kill mosquito larvae. A tablespoon of vegetable oil in your barrel will form an oil slick on the surface which can stop mosquitoes from laying eggs, or stop their eggs from hatching.

Step 8

Attach a transfer pump to your rain barrel.

Electrical pumps can move approximately 8 gallons of water a minute. If you have a 65 gallon rain barrel, that equates into about 8 minutes of watering. Make sure that you turn the pump off when your rain barrel is empty. 

Electrical pumps are an easy way to water your garden or lawn with the added benefit of keeping the water in your rain barrels moving and empty as needed.

The end result should be mosquito-free water that is ideal for watering your lawn, flowers, shrubs, and trees.