From hiking, biking and swimming to more leisurely afternoons spent lounging in the backyard, homeowners across the country get outside to enjoy the warm weather on weekends, holidays and vacations throughout the summer months. If your summer is filled with outdoor activities, you’re joined by 85 percent of consumers who profess their love for picnics and barbecues during the summer. Something many forget, however, is that in addition to preparing to host neighbors and friends, you’ll need to also expect to face unexpected guests in the form of summer pests like ants, flies and stinging insects. Many of these pests are more prevalent during the summer, and therefore more likely to show up during outside gatherings and parties. Ants, yellow jackets and flies are attracted to typical barbecue fare, and mosquitoes are especially active at dusk, when most people head outside to fire up the grill. Not only can each of those pests become a nuisance for homeowners, but they also pose significant health risks to you and your guests. Ants can contaminate food and house flies have been known to carry more than 100 different kinds of disease-carrying germs. Mosquitoes can leave behind much more than just an itchy red bite, and are known to carry diseases like West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever.
Stinging insects send more than a half million people to the emergency room each year, and are especially active during the second half of summer when the colonies forage for food that will sustain their queens during winter. Yellowjackets, in particular, pose a significant health threat as they may sting repeatedly and can cause allergic reactions.
To keep your guests happy and your backyard pest-free during summertime barbecues, consider the following tips:
- Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so if you are planning a barbeque before sunset, plan on having plenty of insect repellant containing an EPA-registered active ingredient like DEET or Picaridin available for you and your guests. Adorn your deck or patio with citronella candles that can help minimize the presence of mosquitoes in the area, and wear long sleeves or pants to avoid bites.
- Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to fragrances from shampoo, perfume and candles — not to mention food and drink. Avoid using scented items beforehand and provide clear plastic cups for your guests as aluminum cans and plastic bottles are good hiding spots for stinging insects.
- Prior to the party, check screen doors and repair any holes. And with guests coming in and out of your house, make sure the doors close behind them.
- Keep all food and beverages in sealed coolers and containers.
- Keep garbage containers sealed and away from guests.
- Clean trash, spills and crumbs immediately from tables and other surfaces.
- Bring utensils and dishware indoors shortly after the meal.
- Rinse all beverage bottles and cans, and dispose of them in tightly closed garbage containers.
- Plan to serve food and beverages indoors, and reserve outdoor space for eating and entertaining.
- Remove or drain sources of standing water in your yard that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including birdbaths, wading pools or garden ponds.
Keep your family and friends healthy and safe this summer by following these tips for preventing pests from infiltrating your backyard barbecues.