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Keep Pests off the Barbecue

There’s nothing like summertime for family, fun, and food. And having a barbecue is a great way to do it.

Unfortunately, the bugs like the food as much as we do, and nothing can halt a party faster than a swarm of wasps or mosquitoes or a colony of marching ants. Luckily, there are a few home remedies you can implement to keep bugs from overcoming your summer barbecue.

Protecting the Food

The bugs are most likely to start coming around once the food is served.

The best way to keep bugs away is to put a food tent over each plate. Either you can purchase a food tent online, or you can make your own with a fine-mesh colander, a shower cap, or tin foil.

While preparing the barbecue, there are several food-safe things you can do to keep the bugs from joining the party. Place some of these strong aromas around the barbecue, and mosquitoes, wasps, and many other pests will avoid the area if they can. Many of these essential oils and strong smells are proven to repel wasps and drive away mosquitoes.

  • Bee Balm
  • Basil
  • Scented Geranium
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Lavendar
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • White vinegar
  • Marigolds
  • Citrus, such as lemon, lime, or orange peels

Place a few clippings of these plants and zested or whole citrus peels around the barbecue. You can use white vinegar as a spray that will kill bugs on contact. Rubbing alcohol works extremely well to kill bugs, but it isn’t as food-safe as vinegar.

Make your own homemade wasp repellent that works for mosquitoes, wasps, and flies. Mix one drop of essential oil per cup of water in a spray bottle. Any area you spray should repel bugs for several hours. Use essential oils like geranium, peppermint, clove, lemongrass, citronella, or rosemary for maximum effect.

Remedies against wasps

Wasps create huge problems when they dive-bomb into soda cans or raid plates. But the worst problem is when they sting, especially for those who are allergic to wasp stings.

To keep these flying stingers away, you can prevent them from coming around in the first place. Follow these instructions to make a DIY wasp decoy, which is a fake wasp nest that fools the wasps into thinking another wasp colony has already taken that spot. Many wasp species will avoid the area for several hundred yards. Wasp decoys can be purchased online, or you can make one at home by stuffing a white or brown paper lunch bag with plastic bags to make it puffy. Then tie off the top with rubber bands or string, tie a hook or bent paper clip to the top for easy hanging, and draw a quarter-sized dot on the bottom front corner, which looks like the nest entrance hole to the wasps. Hang one anywhere wasps might make nests, like the corners of the eaves, the shed, and around the woodpiles.

Wasp decoys work best if they’re hung up before the wasp season begins in early spring. So if you already have wasps flying around the yard, follow these instructions to make a DIY wasp trap. Cut off the top of the bottle and reattach it with the lid facing the bottom of the bottle. Put meat, sugary water, or soda inside and hang as many of these traps around the house and the barbecue as you want. Once the wasps fly inside to get to the meat or the sugar water, they can’t figure out how to escape.

You can make the same trap with 12-ounce soda cans. Simply tape a cone-shaped piece of paper or plastic in the opening of a half-empty soda can to keep them from getting out.


Mosquitoes can be a nuisance, but they can be much more concerning if they carry a serious disease like West Nile virus, Zika virus, and Dengue Fever. With lavender, bay leaves, garlic rosemary, or the other scents mentioned above, mosquitoes are much less likely to gatecrash your barbecue.

You can either purchase a mosquito coil online or make one at home by smoldering untreated cardboard. Just light the cardboard on fire, blow out the flames, and let the smoke float over the area.

Citronella candles can also be an aromatic solution to mosquitoes at the barbecue. You can either purchase citronella candles online, or you can make your own scented smoke. Simply put a sprig of rosemary, peppermint, sage, or cloves in the hot barbecue coals.

Alternatively, mosquitoes are also pretty easy to literally blow away. With regular electric fans that are aimed over the food or pan across the party, mosquitoes won’t be able to fly and are likely to stay away, along with many other flying insects.


Fans are also able to keep the flies away from the tables. Additionally, you can also make your own flytrap. Just mix cornmeal or cornstarch with molasses in pie tins. Place the pie tins around the picnic or barbecue and anywhere flies like to congregate. Much like homemade flypaper, the flies are attracted to the sweet molasses and get stuck in it.


Tough to get rid of and able to get into anything, ants don’t just go for your picnic or barbecue. When carpenter ants can, they will find their way from the yard and into the house. Then carpenter ants use their strong jaws to carve their way through the wood of your home, causing a huge amount of damage.

Even though ants are tough to eradicate without help from professionals, there are a few things you can do to protect your picnic or barbecue. Soak cotton balls in sugar water mixed with a little bit of boric acid, which you can buy online or from a hardware store. Boric acid is a chemical used in household cleaning supplies that is safe around the family, but it wreaks havoc on ants and other bugs. Place the cotton balls on the ground around your party and watch the ants go straight for the bait.

Ants don’t like certain textures because it cuts the cuticle that protects their exoskeleton. Crumble charcoal around any area you’d like to protect, and the ants will have difficulty getting through the barrier. Alternatively, you can also use food-grade diatomaceous earth, which works in a similar way.

Professional Pest Control

When you’ve got pests around the house, the best way to keep them away for good is to call the professionals. Any of these pests could cause serious problems, especially if they get inside the house.

When you call Fox, one of our Service Coordinators will offer a free quote directly over the phone and schedule your first service. When our Pest Pro arrives at your door, they will thoroughly examine your home and form a treatment plan based on your needs.

You can rest assured knowing that our family and pet safe, environmentally friendly products are working for you.

Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on May 18, 2020.

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