The Great Mosquito Bucket Hack

These are mosquito buckets.

The mosquito-specific toxin, B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis), a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil, kills mosquito larvae. The toxins in the white floating discs, called Dunks®, stop mosquito reproduction at the larval stage. They do not harm other wildlife. The company that produces them also sells a granular form that can be placed in bird baths.

This post is for you IF:

  • you hate having to use Mosquito Joe to manage these pests because you suspect there is collateral damage to beneficial insects, but you hate mosquitoes more
  • you hate to wear bug spray and socks, a long-sleeve shirt, and pants in the middle of summer when you weed your garden
  • you worry about diseases spread by mosquitoes
  • mosquitoes love you.

I am very thankful for the day my naturalist friend, Joanna Brichetto, posted a story on her blog, Sidewalk Nature, called The Mosquito Bucket of Doom. The bucket system is a bee-friendly, vegetable garden-friendly, and pet-friendly way to eliminate mosquitos.

I have four industrial-looking mosquito buckets spread around my half-acre backyard. There is one in each vegetable garden

and a pretty fiberglass one on a stone patio.

How to Make a Mosquito Bucket

a  5-gallon bucket, a planter, or any container with a wide top
2 handfuls of grass clippings (leaves work but take longer to decompose)
a package of Mosquito Dunks® (a larvicide)

Add 2 handfuls of greens into a tall container.

Half-fill the container with water. As the organic matter decomposes, it produces carbon dioxide which attracts female mosquitoes. Add a Dunk® and place the bucket near your seating or work area. Thirty days later, add a new Dunk®. I buy packages that contain 20 Dunks from an online source.

We hosted my son’s rehearsal dinner in our backyard in the middle of July with just the four buckets for mosquito control and never saw a skeeter.

I volunteer at a community garden near a floodplain inhabited by lots of mosquitoes. I  showed the residents how to set up mosquito buckets, and within 2 weeks, the mosquitos were gone — for the rest of the summer.

How Does the Mosquito Bucket Work?

Mosquito Dunks® work by killing mosquito larvae, thereby interrupting their reproduction cycle. It does not kill adult insects, just the larvae of mosquitoes which use the bucket for the next generation’s productivity.

Joanna learned about the bucket system from famed etymologist Dr. Doug Tallamy. Here is a link to his explanation.

Mosquitoes need ¼-inch of standing water to successfully lay eggs. It takes a few days for the eggs to hatch into the little swimmers seen in Joanna’s photo below.

Dr. Tallamy says when the swimmers (larvae) eat the B.t.i. in Dunks®, it prevents them from maturing to adulthood. He also says companies that spray for mosquito removal only kill about 10% of adult mosquitoes and many more beneficial insects.

Related Stories:
The Soil Your Undies Challenge- A Simple Home DIY Test for Soil Health
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
How to Start Seeds in a Recycled Milk Jug
Hensplaining Chicken Idioms

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33 thoughts on “The Great Mosquito Bucket Hack

  1. Oh my goodness you have just saved my life to enjoy my yard! I just found dunks in my garage that had not been used yet since Texas has had such a profound drought this year. The last couple weeks has rendered rain and the little gnarly beasts. I will be trying this! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I have used Mosquito Dunks for several years in all animal water buckets here in Norco, CA… This product is great, non-toxic to critters…and I have had only one mosquito bite so far this year…!!I need to mail order some more this week as a matter of fact as we are having endless summer heat here and that really increases the insect populations.

  3. Thank you!!! Since retiring, I’m spending more time outside! I’m ordering these now!!! I’ll need advice on chiggers and poison ivy too!! Haha

    1. I feel your pain about the chiggers. For some reason, I have not gotten chigger bites this summer. I know not why. I usually get lots of those, too. For chiggers, I would wear socks, leggings, and long-sleeved shirts. I don’t have poison ivy, fortunately.

  4. Judy, this is fantastic! I use Dunks in my birdbaths, so I’m already a fan. I’m sharing this with all my neighbors.



    Jana Talbot REALTOR®,ABR®,ASP®,E-Pro®

    The Wilson Group Real Estate Services

    Mobile 615-275-9450

    Office 615-436-3031

    License #300660

  5. Judy, Hope you and your family are doing great! I always enjoy your recipes and tips. Keep up the good work! Carol

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Thank you, Judy, for spreading the word about the Mosquito Bucket of Doom! Don’t forget one more crucial ingredient: the stick! Every bucket needs a stick poking out of it as an “escape ramp.” A thick stick is ideal, but even just a bamboo-cane plant support can work. An escape ramp helps bees, beetles, crickets, chipmunks, baby squirrels, and other critters climb out if they accidentally fall in.

  7. Quick question…I know you said to add a new dunk ever 30 days, but do you ever need to add more grass cuttings? Or change the water?

    1. Hi, Emily! I kept my buckets going from May through October. During that time, I changed the water once. I would add new water so the buckets were always half full.

      Someone wrote to say their buckets smelled. That happened to me the first time, too. I started again with fewer greens in the bucket (2 big handfuls).

      Any other questions? I’m thrilled you are giving the bucket system a try.

  8. Judy- I’m doing this project today! Mosquitoes looove me! And the grandchildren. 😢
    I see that you add another Dunk every 30 days, but how often do you add more water and clippings? Thx, xo, Libba

    1. I don’t add extra clippings. Rainwater typically refills it. If not, I add water when watering the garden. I have 4 buckets in my backyard. Had a wedding related party- no bugs.❤️

      1. Perfect! Thanks Judy! Ready to enjoy my mosquito free nights in our backyard and terrace this summer! 😘

      2. Just remember, it does not kill adult skeeters or their eggs. It does take a few days for grass to break down a little and for the eggs to then

  9. I am using the buckets and have a question. The buckets stink! Is this supposed to happen? Is it a result of the CO2 being released by the decaying grass? Am I doing something wrong?

    1. That happened to me the first time. I made a new batch and only used 2 handfuls of grass in each bucket, and there was no smell. I suggest keeping the old bucket and starting a new one, Once the new one gets going, pour the old one out.

      1. Thank you. I went back and saw you had already addressed this issue. Sorry about that. I appreciate this post, your blog, and you. Thank you!

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