I made this for our kitchen door. For the past few years owing to stagnant rainwater collecting in neighbor’s emptied swimming pools and the like, we’ve experienced a lot of mosquitoes in our area. I’m sure everyone knows how annoying even a single mozzie can be – just as you’re about to drop off to sleep, your ears pick up that high-pitched buzzing drone… zzzzzzzzzzzzz…zzz…zzzzz as the little buggers circle, their little vampire capes flapping in their wake… Not much sleeping, but a lot of tossing and turning, itching and scratching going on, right?

At one point, we even took to sleeping with a fan on, even on colder nights because it made it harder for them to land on us – but of the most silly remedies I resorted to, was to sleep with the comforter up to my neck and a t-shirt wrapped around my head so they wouldn’t bite my exposed face and neck! It worked – but it was a sweaty business in summer! Grr!

I tried all sorts of commercial remedies, from ointments and balms, to ‘tips and tricks’ I found online. One detailed making mosquito traps from plastic cold drink bottles and filling them with a warm pungent concoction and leaving it around the areas where mosquitoes gathered – what a complete waste of time – the only thing they trapped was the time and effort it took to make them! A bug-zapper only served to slightly reduce their number in the back garden, while they still swarmed around and stealthily infiltrated our sanctum!

Frustration mounted! If I were to launch into a recollection of all the ways mozzies have driven me to distraction over the years, I’d be at it all week! I even built an elastic gun to shoot mosquitoes when they rested on light fixtures and ceilings. I got quite accurate with it too! This was not the right solution however. I needed peaceful sleep!

What I needed to do was to prevent them from entering the house – which is a lot harder than people realize! Keeping windows and doors permanently shut keeps them out – but also prevents fresh air flow. It’s also no use shutting them all at bed time and expecting to have a mosquito-free night – if they’re already flitting about inside your home, lurking in the nooks and crannies, just waiting for you to turn out the light!

I already detailed how to make mosquito netting frames for the inside of your windows in a previous article (view here) – so you need to do that in conjunction with giving attention to your doors. It’s no use if you mosquito-proof your doors and they can still get in through your windows or slightly-open fan-light!

In this project I used the pre-existing security gate on our kitchen door as the frame for the screen door. It’s plain, ordinary galvanized steel, with a sliding bolt and secured by a padlock. There was a fair gap around the sides of it all the way round – too small for burglars (a different type of bug entirely) – but wide enough for a mozzie to get through with a bus-load of her mates.

I started with covering the gate itself in mosquito netting. It’s prehaps worth mentioning at this point, that I’ve previously used a soft nylon type of mosquito netting for similar projects – and let me just say that if you have cats around, that’s a complete waste of money! Cats climb everything they can, and ours tore holes in it that a big green beetle could easily fly through!

Instead, I bought a 2.1 meter roll of plastic mosquito netting from a local hardware store – the hard clear or white type, which was long and wide enough to overlap the gate on all sides, and secured it to the gate via clear or white plastic cable ties which I looped through the tiny holes and around the bars of the gate. Cat-claws (combined with their climbing weight) will still damage the plastic netting, but it is much more resilient. I didn’t put any around the main frame of square steel tubing, because I had a different plan for that.

I planned on enclosing the gaps between the gate frame and the door opening itself as well, and to this end, I cut a few lengths of aluminum plate I had lying around – but you could easily use pressboard or PVC if you have any of that lying around. I cut the plates to size and appropriate shape, and then drilled holes through them into the outside face of the tubing. Afterwards, I secured them to the frame using pop-rivets with tie netting secured between the plate and frame.

I did this all the way round the gate, except the hinge side, as this would have caused clearance problems while opening or closing the gate. Instead, I opted for the following solution: I let the longer side of the overhang of the extra netting be on that side, and wrapped it round towards the inside of the gate, and secured it to the inside face of the brickwork of the door opening itself with a few screws and wall-plugs. Hilti’s would do just as well.

I still wasn’t done yet though!

I used a few lengths of 2x2cm pine to make a light frame on the inside of the doorway – to fit just snugly behind the plates which surrounded the edge of the gate. It wasn’t necessary to add a strip on the hinge side, of course, as you can see in the photos. This gives a nice tight seal all the way round against any mozzies who figure they’re the Mosquito equivalent of Chuck Norris!

Voila – there you are – a nice anti-mosquito barrier that lets air through – but not mosquitoes!

I fitted a spring to keep the gate closed tight against the frame at all times, so it returns every time a human passes through.

But wait – we’ve forgotten something, haven’t we? What about cats? Erm. Well.

Since we didn’t want to have to leave the gate open, or to open it for cats to move in and out every few minutes while they decided where they wanted to be, I decided to include an opening through the gate and netting at the bottom matching the position of the kitty-door in the actual kitchen door.

This creates a gap in this otherwise brilliant screen-door, not so? Well, maybe. But what I did was to attach a curtain to the opening made from a piece of chiffon material, fitted with a short piece of curtain stretch. It hooks on and hooks off for washing – and I made two of them 😉

There was no need to put the wider netting I used for the cats on the inside of the window screens in this case, since the cats have access to both sides of the gate anyway, and besides, none of them ever seemed interested in climbing this gate.

The cats pass through the opening and the curtain keeps the opening nicely closed behind them. In fact, in the last year or so since I completed this project, we’ve had no more mozzies intruding inside the house and we’ve all enjoyed irritation-free sleep – making zzzz noises of our own!

In closing, I need to mention that an interesting side-benefit of this netting on gates and windows is that it negates the need for lace curtains. People can’t see inside, and the wind doesn’t blow it around – and it also keeps leaves and small debris from blowing in.

Photos below – enjoy!

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about anything on this site, or her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form on her author website.

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