Depending on the size of your bash, you may spend weeks or months planning an awesome outdoor party. The food may be sumptuous, the music perfect, and the decor gorgeous, but the guests will be miserable if they are harassed by bugs the whole time. Protecting your guests from flying pests is a consideration that you should handle well in advance of the party.
Summer pest control starts with the condition of the landscape itself. The most common summer bugs, mosquitoes and ticks, have very specific habitat requirements that you can either reduce or eliminate altogether. With these few subtle bug control elements, you can ensure your guests will enjoy a great time without suffering itchy welts and blood loss.
Plants with fragrant foliage can help chase bugs away. Marigolds, catnip, basil, lavender, scented geranium, and lemongrass, to name a few, harbor a variety of insect-repelling volatile compounds that they release when the foliage is disturbed. Plant them in the yard, add potted plants to the patio, or fill your flower arrangements with them. The more of these plants in the area, the more effective they will be. Pro tip: Just before guests arrive, crush some of the foliage and scatter it in key locations to boost the fragrance and clear the bugs.
Tall grass, overgrown shrubs, and moist shady areas all harbor breeding mosquitoes and other bugs. Don’t wait until the day of the party to mow, as displaced bugs will simply fly around searching for a new place to hang out. A few days before the event, give the landscape a good trim to reduce insect breeding habitat, improve sunlight penetration, and boost air circulation, all of which deter pests.
Any standing water can quickly become a mosquito breeding habitat. Run sprinkler systems on the lawn or garden only in the morning so that the excess can evaporate in the daytime when mosquitoes are most likely to stay away. Treat landscape water features, rain barrels, and other intentional water sources with Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits that kill mosquito larvae but have no effect on people or pets.
Insects are attracted to both the warmth and colors of traditional outdoor lighting. Specifically, they can see UV rays as well as blue and green tones. Since LED lights do not emit UV and produce very little warmth, they generally attract fewer insects than incandescent bulbs. However, some bugs may still be attracted to the blue or green tones produced by “white” LED light. So, opt for LED lamps with yellow tones to further decrease bug traffic.
Fires are a traditional mosquito repellant. Since bugs use highly sensitive heat and carbon dioxide sensors to search out a blood meal in the evenings, the combination of light, warmth, and carbon dioxide can create a sensory overload for the pests, protecting those in closest proximity to the blaze.
A smoky bonfire will deter mosquitoes, but your guests may not love it on a breezy night. Instead of choking everyone up just to keep the bugs away, use citronella torches or bug repellent incense to create a bug-free zone. That way if you plan on lighting up the fire pit, you can stick with dry, well-seasoned wood that will be less smoky and cozier.
You may have noticed fewer mosquito bites on windy days. This is due to two main reasons. First, they are weak fliers and wind makes it difficult to get around. Second, they rely on their sensors to identify “pools” of heat and carbon dioxide that signify a meal, and those pools disperse in the wind. You cannot plan the weather, but you can plug in a fan. Add artificial wind to your next outdoor party to disrupt the bugs’ ability to pester your guests.
Bug control is an important part of planning for any outdoor party. This is especially true for events near lakes, rivers, and wooded areas. It need not be labor-intensive or especially costly, but a few key preparations will make an enormous impact. The tips listed above will greatly reduce bug traffic during the party, but should not be intended to replace the use of personal bug repellent. With a few bottles of bug spray littered around the yard, you can keep the bugs off your guests and enjoy a great time.
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