The truth is, nobody knows if a gas fire pit keeps mosquitoes away because no research hasn’t been done to that effect.
However, the results of a recent study examining the relationship between carbon monoxide and the color red suggest certain elements of a fire pit would attract them.
Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence doesn’t support that idea. Gas fire pit enthusiasts don’t experience a significant increase or decrease in mosquitoes around their fire pits.
We’ll take a brief look at the latest findings concerning the habits of mosquitoes, and you can compare that with your own backyard experience.
Mosquitoes are attracted to Carbon Dioxide & Human Skin Tones
While there is no hard data concerning the behavior of mosquitoes and fire pits, there was a recent study on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that gives us more insight into the relationship between odor and color when it comes to their behavior.
In the article “Hunt for Color” by Niko McCarty in the May 2022 publication of Scientific American, McCarty summarizes a recent study published in “Nature Communications.” It found mosquitoes begin looking for shades of red found in the range of human skin tones only in the presence of carbon monoxide.
Even mosquitoes can be discerning. For example, Aedes aegypti like the smell of feet, according to researchers at New Mexico State University.
Jeff Riffell, a University of Washington neurobiologist, was the study’s lead author. He and his colleagues devised a special wind tunnel to isolate mosquito behavior and tracked the trajectories of 1.3 million mosquitoes to come up with their findings.
Given that mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide and the reds found in all skin tones regardless of shade—and gas fire pits check both those boxes—it would seem like a fire pit would be a huge draw for these pesky insects.
However, if it was this simple, every time you fired up your pit, you would have large swarms of mosquitoes hovering around you and feasting on your exposed skin. But this doesn’t happen.
So that invites further questions. Is there something else mosquitoes are factoring for that the fire pit overrides for the most part? Does the intensity of the heat cue them that this is not prey? Is the carbon monoxide too strong to be associated with prey? Are the colors too intense to be interpreted as skin? These are all things we can’t know without a specific study.
And while a fire pit might not attract excessive amounts of mosquitoes, it doesn’t repel them either.
Back to the Basics
In the absence of new information that would allow us to use our fire pit in the fight to be bitten, we’ll have to resort to known methods.
There are numerous ways to reduce or eliminate the annoyance of mosquitoes. Much of it depends on what risks you want to take, how invasive you want to be, and how much effort you want to put forth.
SKIP THE SPANDEX. Mosquitoes bite through tight-fitting clothing. Instead, go for a baggy fit if you’re going to be hanging out with mosquitoes.
Up close and personal, you can try any insect repellents that come with or without chemicals. There are sprays, lotions, balms, wristlets, and personal fans diffusing scents that are a deterrent.
The smell of certain plants such as lemon balm, citronella, lemongrass, and mint has proven to be a pretty good deterrent. You can add these scents as in-ground plants surrounding your patio, potted plants, or through essential oil diffusers.
The Tiki torch brand now has a unique formula just for mosquitoes, and other brands also make lamps, candles, and light/diffusing lanterns to serve this purpose.
Pulling out from the patio a bit, there are foggers you can apply to your lawn for short-term relief, or you can hire a professional service to treat your lawn, though these solutions may kill “good” insects along with the mosquitoes.
One thing to keep in mind regarding chemical lawn applications is the growing problem of pesticide resistance. So, it might be better to use these solutions sparingly.
And don’t overlook the obvious. Eliminate their home. Make sure you are dumping any standing water around your property, and if you can’t dump it (a small pond, bird bath, etc.), use a “mosquito dunk.” It’s only lethal to mosquitoes, and it’s effective for 30 days.
So even though your fire pit may not be the answer to banning mosquitoes, there are plenty of other options to keep them at bay and make your time outdoors more enjoyable.