By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Summer is synonymous with many things: baseball, fireworks and unfortunately, mosquitoes.  They can ruin a summer barbecue faster than a rotten hamburger.  In today’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan has advice on how to prevent mosquitoes from invading your yard.

For homeowner Jerry McVeigh, living on a wooded lot with a pond and a lake, he has seen his fair share of mosquitoes.  So McVeigh hired a professional mosquito control company to treat his yard regularly.  He says, “We tried everything: foggers, all the different coils.  You name it, we tried it. And a lot of other people I’m sure understand this – we were so sensitive about strong chemicals because of what’s going on with the wildlife.”

According to Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks, “Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance when you’re out trying to have a family barbecue, but they are also a health risk.  For example, you could get West Nile.  Making sure you have a comfortable outdoor mosquito-free area is important for your family.”

With a little preventative maintenance and monitoring, you can gain the upper hand on mosquitoes.  Mosquito Control Contractor Ken Frost says, “There are many places around a homeowner’s property where they can look for sources of standing water.  The thing is we are only looking for a very small amount of water.  In fact, it only takes a soda bottle cap full of water to breed several hundred mosquitoes.”  So be sure to empty bird baths, kiddie pools, flower pot saucers, and keep gutters clear.

Angie says, “If you tackled every effort you can as a homeowner you might need to hire a professional.  Having someone come in you need to talk to them exactly about their experience in treating mosquitoes and then also ask what kind of chemicals and treatments they are going to use especially if you have children or pets.”

According to Frost, “A mosquito like anything else has to eat to live so our target areas are leafs such as this one. On the bottom side of this leaf you’ll see there are plant nectar veins here, that is what the mosquitoes are after so when we apply our product to this foliage, with our backpack sprayer, it sticks to the underside of the leaf, dries in the foliage and when the mosquito comes to feed on that, it kills them off.”

Several types of plants also act as a natural mosquito repellent.  Mosquitoes also avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.

Angie’s List Tips: How to eliminate standing water

Empty water from bird baths, flower pot saucers, pet dishes, old tires, unused swimming pools, fence posts, and other items that collect and hold water.

Make sure rain barrels are covered.

Keep gutters cleaned. Clogged gutters or gutters that don’t drain properly are common breeding sites.

Angie’s List Tips: Mosquito prevention

Trim back vegetation: Mosquitoes feast on plant nectar when they aren’t prowling for blood, so they spend a lot of time in tall grasses or around shrubs and bushes. Trim vegetation near the home and keep lawns mowed.

Use mosquito-repelling plants: Several types of plants act as a natural mosquito repellent. For example, the citronella smell used in mosquito-repelling candles is derived from the citronella plant, a grass that can be grown in climates where it doesn’t freeze or raised in a pot in colder climates. Mosquitoes also avoid catnip, lavender, marigolds, basil and peppermint.

Remove yard debris: Be aware of areas where debris collects in the yard, such as grass clippings and piles of leaves.

If prevention doesn’t produce adequate results, professional mosquito control companies provide barrier spray treatments that kill adult mosquitoes, and larvicides that kill mosquitoes in the larvae stage.

Angie’s List Tips: Hiring professional mosquito control

Ask about chemicals: If you have pets or children, ask which insecticides will be used in the treatment. Ask to see the label of the product.

Are you licensed? In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator’s license before making a hiring decision.

What is the application schedule: How often will the company come out? Most mosquito control companies offer plans where a technician applies a one-time treatment or comes out several times a year. Some homeowners will schedule a single treatment before an outdoor event such as a wedding or party.

Read the contract before signing: All details should be clearly stated in a contract before you sign the dotted line, including whether the company offers a guarantee.