What is summer without at least one picnic or meal on the patio?
With friends and family nearby, hot dogs and burgers on the grill, potato salads, Jello molds, and maybe even hand-cranked ice cream for dessert (keeps the kids busy!), eating outdoors is one of summer’s greatest pleasures.
Until the pests show up for the party.
Mosquitoes, flies, wasps, ants – all of these uninvited guests can make your human guests uncomfortable and put a limitation on the fun.
Read below for 11 tips on how to enjoy a pest-free meal outdoors.
- Ants and stinging insects such as wasps and bees are just like humans in that they love their sweets! They’re attracted to sugar, so if you have drinks such as lemonade, sugared teas and colas, you’re singing the little pests’ favorite song. So, if possible – and if you can keep your sweet tooth at bay – don’t bring sugar-laden drinks and foods.
- If going on a picnic in a park, check for ant mounds. These are fairly easy to spot – they’re small cone-shaped mounds of dirt with a hole at the top and ants moving in and out. Keep a good 100 feet or so away from these mounds.
- Keep all food covered! When done eating, drinking or even removing an item of food from a container, place it back in the container quickly and close the lid tightly. This helps keep the food from becoming a magnet to pests.
- Speaking of staying covered, keep yourself covered, too. Consider wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts to keep ticks at bay. Wear sunscreen and/or clothing with a UV ray rating.
- Don’t forget insect repellant!
- Bring along some citronella candles. Mosquitoes don’t like citronella oil and the pests will stay away within a five-foot radius. The candles are also very pretty and they give off a pleasant scent.
- If entertaining outdoors on your patio, consider plugging in a fan. The breeze generated will blow bugs away.
- Fruit flies love sweet drinks, so entice them away from your gathering by pouring a bit of sweet red wine in a cup and placing it several feet away from your picnic table.
- Take some cornstarch or baby powder and sprinkle a border around your picnic blankets and/or tables. Ants won’t cross over.
- Place the food on a different table or blanket from where your guests eat. This will keep any pests that come to enjoy your food away from your guests.
- If possible, avoid having your outdoor gathering at dusk. Mosquitoes are more active as the sun sets, so avoid this time of day, if possible. (Mosquitoes also thrive at dawn, but not many of us have picnics as the sun rises…..)