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4 Tips for Pest-Free Family Picnics

The family picnic is a beloved seasonal activity, especially in warmer months. At beaches and parks, with a simple basket or a grand set-up of tents, tables, grills and coolers, the family picnic has been the centerpiece of patio dinners and annual celebrations for decades. Unfortunately, these occasions have also been marked by epic battles – not just of water balloon wars or other picnic games, but of warding off picnic-loving pests. To help keep your family happy, the following highlights some familiar picnic pests and how to win the fight for a pest-free picnic.

What pests are common at family picnics?

Ants, bees, flies and mosquitoes love to congregate around delicious picnic spreads, almost as much as those hungry family members. However, understanding what makes picnics so enticing can also be the key to deterring these pesky intruders. Here is some helpful insight about each familiar though uninvited guest:

  • Ants: One of the 9 most common summer bugs, ants tend to be equal opportunity consumers. They’ll go after sweet and fatty foods as well as protein sources. They’ll also enjoy freshly plated food or countertop crumbs, as well as that food waste smelling up your garbage can. While these interests often attract ants to your home, they also contribute to a pervasive ant presence at a family picnic.
  • Bees: As highlighted by the U.S. National Science Foundation, bee diversity is essential to the survival of not only flowers but also the crops that may eventually end up on family picnic plates. However, the importance of bees doesn’t mean that they or any other flying insects are welcome to the picnic party. In addition to the sweet-smelling people or picnic treats, nearby flowers and plants may attract bees, and untreated wood may also attract carpenter bees.
  • Flies: From fresh food to foods that have decayed beyond the point of recognition, fruit flies, house flies and other types of flies often flock to family picnics. Although they are small, they are a sizable danger to picnic guests, as they can carry diseases and bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, so knowing how to get rid of flies is a key part of picnic preparation.
  • Mosquitoes: This dangerous pest, unlike some of the others mentioned, may be more interested in the picnic guests than the picnic itself due to their particular odor, according to Scientific American.

How can I deter pests from my family picnic?

For some people, the easiest part of picnic planning is the food selection, from preparing family favorites from your own recipe collection to trying out one of the “51 Easy Picnic Food Ideas” from Love and Lemons. When it comes to other scheduling and hosting preparations, here are 4 tips to help you deter one or more of the common picnic pests from your next family reunion, hangout with friends or romantic outing:

  1. Keep it clean! Having wipes available to clean tables, hands and faces may help keep interested bugs away. Package picnic goodies in sealable containers to protect them from contamination and from attracting pests. Remove trash immediately or store it in a sealed bag or receptacle, as even that last bit of soda or lingering splash of wine is appealing to fruit flies and other insects.
  2. Choose your location wisely. Family picnics located near woods or areas with overgrown grass may increase exposure to ticks, as well as other bugs. Choosing a spot away from trash cans that ants and flies love or standing water that may be a prime mosquito spot can help reduce the presence of these pests at your picnic event. Flower gardens and cut flowers may be pretty, but bugs love buzzing around them, so avoid this choice for beautifying your picnic table or setting the scene.
  3. Try a natural repellent strategy. In addition to any protective sprays or treatments, some plants help repel bugs, according to farm and garden resource, the Almanac. Instead of odors attracting bugs to your guests, use potted plants like basil, lemon grass and rosemary as both decoration and deterrent or essential oils derived from these herbs and others.
  4. Use physical prevention measures. Fans can do more than keep you cool at the family picnic. Choose areas with a natural breeze or employ solar or battery-powered fans to blow bugs away from your elevated picnic tables. A canopied tent with mesh netting is another helpful option but is a bit more cumbersome and costly than some of the other prevention measures.

Family picnics are a fun and budget-friendly pastime that can occur in your own yard or at other exciting destinations. However, they are decidedly less enjoyable when ants crawl on your cupcake or any other pests intrude. If you need help preparing your patio area, lakeside property or other residential destination for this year’s events, our pest control team is here to assist you by providing preventative maintenance strategies, like mosquito or tick treatment plans, or a yearly inspection with any necessary pest solutions. For more on our pest control solutions to keep your yard family-friendly, contact us here!