Bug Off: Keeping Your Patio Pest-Free
You’re putting the finishing touches on your end of summer bash. You’ve been checking things off your list and it’s finally about to start. The food is ready, the drinks have been stirred, and the lighting is perfect, that is until you hear an irritating buzzing sound enter your peripheral. It’s the mosquito, enemy of outdoor summer activities everywhere.
Let’s go back in time; how can you have your party be bug free without installing an OFF! misting booth in your backyard? We’ve found the most effective ways to prevent insects from getting an invite, what to do during your event, and how to keep them away from the aftermath.
Set the mood. Change out white lights with warmer yellow or sodium vapor lights. These lights make it harder for insects to see in the dark and will drive them to a brighter light source elsewhere. What’s more romantic than a buggy free zone with warm lighting?
Get a green thumb. Plant herbs like garlic, rosemary, chives, lemongrass, and mint can help drive away the bugs. And as a bonus, you can have fresh herbs to pack an extra flavor punch in your entrees.
Spray them away. There are a couple sprays that you can use to ward away pests. Try spraying a mint alcohol-based mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide/water mixture on patio furniture and around the perimeter of your deck. Whichever spray you use, be sure to do this before you put out your food.
Dump it out. Stagnant water can encourage mosquitoes. Clean out bird baths and potted plants that have collected rain. If you have a pool, this can be a little tricky. Instead, have a container of coffee grounds that have been open for a month and sprinkle them around buggy areas. Coffee grounds will kill ants and repel mosquitoes, wasps, and bees, especially if you burn the grounds.
Clean it up. While you’re getting your yard party ready, don’t forget to take care of decomposing plants or animal waste, which are great sources of nutrition for certain insects. Remove these from your yard to avoid offering a buffet to beetles, ants, mites, and wasps.
No hide and seek here. By taking care of your grass and being sure its mowed to the right length, you can reduce creepy crawlies like ticks or fire ants that like to hide in a taller grass. The same can be said for mulch. Turning your mulch with a rake will lessen the chance one of these bugs will take up residence and build a nest. You can also ward off rodents and termites by keeping firewood piles off the ground.
Add a shade with sides. Covering a section of your patio or the whole thing can stop the bugs from coming in. It’s pretty common in swampy regions to have an enclosed patio that keeps the mosquitoes at bay. So, if you’re fed up with insects coming into your open-air area, consider closing it in with a temporary shade canopy. Inspect the materials of the shade to make sure bugs can’t slip in through a hole in the fabric.
Bring in natural predators. Welcome animals that feast on the pests you’re trying to keep away by putting up bird or bat houses. These additions will make birds and bats more frequent in your yard, keeping insect populations at bay.
Get the flow going. Turn on an outdoor fan (which are really in right now) and get the air moving on your patio space. Not only can this discourage flying beasties from coming around, a cool breeze on a warm summer’s eve is always a plus.
Bring on the citronella! When used together, citronella torches and candles can be an effective duo against mosquitoes. Don’t forget, you can also plant citronella plants that serve as a last-minute repellent by crushing the leaves and rubbing them on the skin.
Trick of the light. This is not a sure-fire way to get rid of flies, but it’s so simple, it doesn’t hurt to try it out. Fill a Ziploc bag with water, drop four pennies in, and seal the bag. Some say it drives flies away because the pennies look like another insect nest or a bigger bug, others say it doesn’t work at all. So is this an old wives’ tale or must-do trick? You decide!
Mother Nature’s own serums. Essential oils have recently become more and more common in everyday households; why not use them on your patio as well? For outdoor parties, try plugging in your diffuser and finding the right essential oil to get rid of the bugs plaguing your patio. For mosquitoes, try peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, or lavender. For fleas, try cedar wood, orange, or pine. For ticks, try rose geranium, juniper, thyme, or oregano.
Not the gnats! This is also in the “possible old wives’ tale” category, but many have found it helpful to carry a Bounce dryer sheet while gardening to fend off gnats. You can also test this out by rubbing it on your skin or your patio furniture’s arms and legs.
Just DEET it. DEET (diethyltoluamide) is an active ingredient used in many insect repellants against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other pests. If you are in an area with a high-risk of Zika virus, DEET can be the way to go with its effectiveness. There are other efficient natural methods that can be used preventatively, but if you’re in a bind, DEET repellants can be a quick and simple solution.
Go for cover. Drinking something on the sweet side? This can be a honing beacon for fruit flies and bees. Offer cupcake liners to guests so they can cover their drink away from insects with a sweet tooth.
Clean up after yourself. That means taking care of food and garbage right away like throwing away waste in sealed containers. Take utensils that could have food residue on them inside quickly after use to be washed. Don’t leave your mess go until the morning because you’re letting pests know it’s okay to come over for the afterparty.
There are lots of ways to ward off unwanted pests and insects from your yard, but the best strategy is to take steps before, during, and after your outdoor event. Do you have other tips that you swear by to keep bugs off your patio? Let us know what they are!