I rent a basement unit with a deep stairwell to my front door that tends to be a safe haven for mosquitoes each spring and summer. This means that my legs and arms spend the summer covered in mosquito bites and being itchy.

In addition to being a rather unattractive sight on my skin, it means I spend a lot of money on anti-itch gels and other treatments for those bites.

In past years, I’ve used all kinds of bug killers and non-natural options to try to decrease their population, in addition to reducing/eliminating any puddles or standing water for them to breed in. But it hasn’t worked.

This year I’m trying a whole new technique, if it can be called that.

I’m building up my outdoor population of spiders to reduce the mosquito population. The way I see it, all those insecticides also killed of the natural predators of mosquitoes — spiders.

So this year, I’m not going to put down any pesticides in the stairwell or nearby ground. Moreover, I’m going to do what I can to keep my basement stairwell hospitable to spiders — leave a few leaves lying around, etc.

This tactic also solves another dilemma for me.

In living in a basement, I sometimes find a spider of substantial size in my bathtub in the morning. This usually occurs at least on weekly basis.  I guess they crawl in to get some water from the bottom of the tub and then can’t climb back out.

Instead of killing these spiders, I am now tossing them into my outside stairwell in hopes that they will set up home there. As of now I know of three different spiders that use my stairwell as home and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

I have seen one or two mosquitoes in my stairwell so far this year. The problem is that I can’t recall when in the spring/summer the blood suckers really start breeding. Therefore, I guess I won’t know if my strategy is successful until July or August.

I have one more tactic to try.  I will buy plants that attract birds and put out a squirrel-proof bird feeder. I’ve heard that having lots of birds in one’s yard is also a natural defense against mosquitoes and other flying pests.

What tricks have you tried to reduce the bug population?

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