Buzz Off

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Barbecues, picnics, pool parties and other shindigs held in your yard can attract a lot of invited guests. They can also draw in plenty of unwanted visitors in the form of pesky insects like bees, wasps, mosquitos, ants, ticks and flies. Talk about a buzz kill.

But with the right planning, you can keep the bugs at bay and ensure a crowd-pleasing al fresco event, say the pros.

“Delicious grilled food, scrumptious snacks and tasty desserts combined with hot summer temperatures often attract pests. And nothing can ruin the fun more quickly than insects eating your food and attacking your guests,” says Charlie Jones, executive vice president of operations for Arrow Exterminators in Atlanta.

Not only can these creepy crawlies bite or sting attendees and contaminate your edibles; they can make your guests more likely to decline invitations to future outdoor affairs you plan to host, says Lauren Mink with TransMedia Group, a Boca Raton, Florida-based company that plans and hosts large outdoor events for clients.

“Insects can cause irritability, disrupt photos, spoil appetites and turn an event from sweet to sour,” Mink says.

Worse, some of these vermin can make you seriously sick.

“Mosquitos can spread diseases such as the Zika virus, West Nile virus, and chikungunya fever,” notes Jones, “and stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.”

To prevent these party pooper possibilities, try these 8 tips:

1. Prep your property carefully. “Remove sources of standing water where mosquitos can breed, including flowerpot saucers, birdbaths and wading pools,” recommends Jones. “Cut back or get rid of unnecessary vegetation around your home, too.” In addition, mow your lawn, clean out your rain gutters, “and be sure to remove fruit and seeded pods from trees and grounds as well as pet waste from your yard,” advises Dave Burns of Phoenix-headquartered Burns Pest Elimination.

2. Keep garbage sealed and away from your entertaining area. “Make sure all outdoor trash cans have a secure lid that’s kept in place,” Jones adds.

3. Fog your party well prior to the event. Hire an outside service like Mosquito Joe, or apply a DIY product across your yard. “Use an insecticide that’s specially made to deter mosquitos, ticks and other garden insects,” suggests Karen Thompson, advice blogger at “Nowadays, you can buy many easy-to-use and cheap bug foggers that will allow you to use the fogged area only minutes after applying.”

4. Try remedies from Mother Nature. “Most bugs and pests have aversions to some very common natural scents and herbs. For instance, leaving cinnamon around a perimeter will deter ants and spiders, and potted plants with citrus and citronella deter mosquitos and flies,” says Mink. “Bugs also hate garlic and essential oils like lemongrass or tea tree, which can be used around food stations and table cloths.”

5. Employ electric remedies. Hang up an electric bug zapper in your yard. “And consider using yellow bug light bulbs in outdoor fixtures, which can reduce the number of flying insects around your home,” adds Jones.

6. Choose your clothing carefully. If the weather is amenable, consider wearing pants and long-sleeved tops, “and avoid wearing bright and floral colors as well as floral scents to prevent the attraction of bees,” notes Burns.

7. Cover all foods and beverages. Use tightly sealed containers or cover trays, platters, bowls and other serving dishes with umbrella-style mesh dome food tents. “Also, serve sugary drinks in covered pitchers, since wasps, yellowjackets, ants and flies are attracted to sweets,” says Jones.

8. Keep bug spray handy for guests. “Either inform them that you have insect repellant available or set up a bug spray station that your guests can clearly see and use,” says Thompson, who adds that repellants containing DEET are still the gold standard.

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