Address insects before entertaining season
Barbecues in the backyard or cocktails on the patio provide some fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors from the comforts of home.
While friends and family flock to such entertaining opportunities, some unwanted guests may want to crash the festivities.
It's impossible to ensure a completely bug-free outdoor environment, but there are steps homeowners can take to reduce the number of pests who want to join the party.
First, identify which kind of insect infiltrations are most common where you live. House flies, fruit flies, mosquitoes, wasps, and bees tend to be abundant in spring and summer. Ants, termites and other bugs also can be prevalent. However pesky they may seem, these insects often can be kept away without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
• Lure away pests. Many insects will be happy to snack on a treat and leave you alone. Put out a dish of sugar water or slices of fruit for insects that feed on sweets and nectar, or a slice of sandwich meat for wasps and yellow jackets. Place these items a fair distance from your gathering.
• Install fans. A patio ceiling fan can blow away mosquitoes and flies relatively easily. And you and your guests will likely enjoy a nice breeze on sultry days.
• Use mulch wisely. According to the National Pest Management Association, mulch will add to curb appeal, but having it too close to the house can present an ideal environment for roaches and ants to nest and find their way into a home. As the mulch decomposes, it generates heat and a cozy spot for pests, including mice. Keep mulch 12 inches away from the home's foundation and entertaining spaces, or use inorganic mulch.
• Keep patios clean. Sweep up and clean away any spilled foods and beverages promptly. Even a tiny nugget of food can attract ants and other insects.
• Use natural pest deterrents. Citronella oils can drive away some insects, as can garlic and rosemary. Lavender, eucalyptus, marigolds, and other pungent aromas will naturally keep mosquitoes and other flying insects at bay. Some people also have luck with mint-flavored mouthwash misted on patios and furniture.
• Address standing water. Mosquitoes and some other insects lay their eggs in standing water. Routinely drain areas where water collects, including gutters and downspouts
• Use light colors. According to HouseLogic, studies show that bugs see dark and bright colors more easily than light colors. Choose lighter shades of paint for outdoor areas, and it may make these spaces less attractive to some bugs.
• Leave those spider webs. Many people yell "eek" at the sight of spiders and spider webs. But those arachnids and their sticky webs can do a fine job of capturing many unwanted insects. Resist the temptation to tear down webs and shoo spiders away.
Addressing insects means employing various natural strategies to make outdoor entertaining more pleasant.