Bugs are the fastest way to ruin a backyard chill sesh, but swatting haphazardly isn’t going to do much permanent good. Instead, be strategic when fighting against things that fly (or buzz) around your head outside.
Here are our favorite ways to eliminate every pest that’s pissing you off right now:
“Mosquitos aren’t that annoying,” said nobody ever. Except liars with their pants on fire.
Mosquitoes are most active during sunrise and sunset, so if you’re outside during this time, it’s best to don long sleeves (even at the height of summer). They’re also attracted to standing water, so keep birdbaths and ponds as far away from your social spot as possible. In general, it’s good to be vigilant about removing any standing water on your property that isn’t necessary.
While there are many herbs you can hang to keep mosquitos away including sage and rosemary, the most tried-and-true way to keep them from biting you is store-bought mosquito repellant. Pro Tip: When you’re spraying yourself, make sure to do it after you apply sunscreen and not before. The scent of the sunscreen may mask the repellent.
We’re not anti-bee (they’re vitally important for our ecosystem) but we are anti-bee at our cookout. To keep bees away, avoid wearing perfume and scented lotion. Bees are also drawn to bright colors and floral patterns, so leave your Lilly Pulitzer in the closet.
If these passive tips don’t keep the swarm away, try this: Before you head outside, stuff a few dryer sheets in your pockets or your shoes. Bees cannot stand the smell of dryer sheets, so they’ll leave you alone!
Bees we tolerate. Wasps, not so much. Have you ever been stung by a wasp? OUCH! And their dangly legs are horrifying. The trick to keeping wasps away is to prevent them from building a nest. Before summer is in full swing, hang a fake wasps nest in the places you tend to hang out around (deck, patio, favorite backyard tree). Hear us out: Wasps are incredibly territorial, so if they think other wasps are already living in an area, they’ll stay away.
When you dine alfresco, station a few DIY wasps traps around the perimeter of your social space. These traps are simple: using old jam jars or mason jars, drill a few small holes in the lid. Then, fill the jar with a sweet bait of your choice: molasses and water, sugary soda or jam all work well. Screw the lid back onto the jar. Wasps will be lured by the sweet smell and then be unable to get back out through the holes.
Note: Never try to remove a wasp nest yourself! If wasps have moved in and created a large nest (or two), it’s time to call a pest professional.
Fact: Ticks carry Lyme disease. They’re also really disgusting and can be tough to spot. The best way to prevent ticks is to wear insect repellent with 20 percent or more DEET and reapply it every few hours. It’s important that adults apply any DEET products to children, because it can be dangerous if consumed.
After a sun-filled afternoon, change your clothes immediately and check each other for ticks. (Could be fun with a significant other, right?) Toss all clothes worn in the wash immediately, because studies show that ticks can survive in hampers for 2-3 days. Wash with hot water and tumble dry on warm to ensure ticks are gone.
If you’re asking yourself, “What is a chigger?” we’re jealous of you and hate you just a little bit. If you live in a moist, damp climate, however, you know all too well how painful and annoying chigger bites can be. You know those mosquito-like bites that itch incessantly but never seem to go away? That’s a chigger bite.
These cousins of ticks love to hide in tall grass and shady areas with lots of vegetation, so the best defense is a well-manicured lawn. We also recommend treating your lawn with a mild homemade insecticide consisting of a few drops of mild dish soap and warm water. Mix it up spread it on your lawn (this is only realistic for smaller properties). Also, when you sit down, always use a blanket. The goal is to keep your skin away from lurking chiggers.
Red ants that sting are what nightmares are made of. Fire ant stings are so painful because they pack a one-two punch – the initial bite followed by what feels like a sting (this is actually an injection of acid into your skin).
If you spot a fire ant mound, don’t touch it! You’ll only anger them. Instead, lay down bait. There are plenty of baits to buy, but most of these contain poison which will kill the ants, but may also harm children and pets. If you’re interested in an all-natural option, try cornmeal.
If this doesn’t work, or you’d rather hurry up the process, we recommend contacting professional to deal with your fire ant problem.