Now that it’s finally starting to warm up, it’s time to break in your newly installed outdoor entertaining space. Unfortunately, you and your guests aren’t the only ones enjoying the weather. If you’re outside, chances are—so are the bugs. Nothing ruins a gathering quite like a cloud of mosquitoes or other aggressive insects. So, before you issue the invitations, try these tips to stay bug-free at your next barbecue.
If you’re not a big fan of chemicals (and their accompanying smells), there are some alternatives you can use. By planting certain flowers and herbs, you’re naturally repelling common pests, while dressing up your landscape. Marigolds and calendula are commonly used for this purpose, but some people just plant them for their bright colors! Chives, lemongrass, mint, garlic, and rosemary have also been proven to ward off biting insects, if you prefer to keep a small herb garden near your outdoor space.
Some natural oils can work as outdoor pest control too. Have you ever heard of anise? While it’s not common to this area, people have been using it as a bug repellent for centuries. You can pick it up in oil form (just make sure it’s not an artificial knock-off) and apply it to surfaces like patio tables and chairs. It’s quite potent, so you shouldn’t need to use that much. Other essential oils that have been proven effective include citronella, lavender, and eucalyptus. They’re safe enough to apply directly to the skin, but try to avoid getting them on any food items or ingesting them directly.
Repurpose common household items
Did you know you can use dryer sheets to keep pests away? Specifically, they work on midges, or a group of insects that includes many small flies. You can rub them on yourself, or on tables and chairs to keep the bugs at bay. Another option includes mouthwash. We may think it smells good, but apparently insects do not. The key is, it has to be alcohol-based to work properly for this purpose. But, if you already have that, you can just put in it in spray bottle and squirt it around the perimeter. A dilution of hydrogen peroxide can be used similarly.
Additionally, most people keep candles around the house—if you prefer the citrus or citronella varieties, you can easily move them outdoors. They work especially well if used in conjunction with the citronella torches sold at most stores this time of year. Just be sure to place them close to where people will be sitting/standing throughout the gathering.
Don’t forget to keep your outdoor spaces clean and appropriately lit to avoid attracting unwanted pests. While we can help you install your new deck or patio, we can’t necessarily make them bug-proof. Hopefully, these methods help you and your guests stay bite-free throughout this spring and summer.