Spending time relaxing outdoors with family and friends is one of the summer’s most fun activities. That’s why it’s never a pleasant experience when you have to worry about mosquitoes, flies, gnats or other pesky insects ruining your day. There are several tips, tricks and products you can use to help keep those annoying pests far from your porch or patio, so you can spend less time swatting and more time enjoying the warm summer afternoons.
By using one, or preferably a combination of these pest control methods, you can significantly decrease the number of insects plaguing your outdoor space, leading to a pest-free environment all summer long.
Mosquitoes cause itchy bites and irritating buzz, but they can also transmit harmful diseases. Luckily by using a fan to increase airflow, you can keep these pests at bay, considering they are not adept at flying against even moderate wind currents. Some patios may be compatible with outdoor ceiling fans, which you can use to generate both a cooling and mosquito-repellent effect. Other homeowners can use a simple box fan or pedestal fan to achieve the same goal.
When water gets trapped in flowerpots, gutters, birdbaths, watering cans or other spaces where it can remain for long periods, it creates the perfect environment for mosquitoes and certain fly species. By making sure your yard and patio are free from stagnant water, you can prevent these pests from laying eggs and perpetuating the issue.
You may not think that the state of your lawn has much to do with annoying pests, but keeping your yard healthy and clean can help ward off bugs. Tallgrass provides a perfect home for ticks. Damp leaves, mulch or underbrush can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Having a cookout or outdoor party usually means there’ll be plenty of food and drinks. It’s essential to clean up any leftover food scraps or sugary drinks as they can quickly attract unwanted guests, especially ants and flies. The less there is to attract them, the less likely they are to swarm.
Many types of plants and herbs can be a natural bug-repellent aid, adding to your patios aesthetics while also providing you with fresh ingredients for new recipes or cocktails. Herbs like rosemary, mint, thyme and lemongrass are great for repelling mosquitoes, while basil and lavender can repel both mosquitoes and flies.
Two common insect-repellent flowers include marigolds and chrysanthemums. These can help keep mosquitoes, ants, ticks and other pests from making a home near your outdoor living space and adds an extra pop of color in the process.
If you’re noticing that moths and other flying insects are swarming your outdoor patio lights once the sun sets, you might want to consider choosing a different style of lightbulb. Choosing a yellow-tinted CFL or LED light bulb can reduce the number of insects attracted to the bulb’s specific wavelength as well as its heat output. If you aren't a fan of yellow lighting, other color options that won't attract bugs include pink and orange hues.
Sometimes you just need a barrier between yourself and the bugs. Several different mosquito nets are available, from pop-up options to bigger gazebo nets and umbrella nets, which conveniently fit over or around an existing patio set up. No matter the style, mosquito nets all utilize a thin breathable mesh lining, keeping insects out while still allowing you and your guests to enjoy the breeze without an obstructed view.
Bug zappers do precisely as their name suggests. After luring insects in with light or chemical attractants, they are given an electric shock and fall to the ground or collect in a removable tray. Bug zappers are most effective when placed about 15-20 feet from your patio, as bugs are attracted to them before being zapped. This Flowtron model is available with or without the mosquito attractant and has a large coverage area great for large yards.
Like bug zappers, insect traps can trap would-be nuisances before they make it to your patio. However, instead of using electricity to kill mosquitos and gnats, many bug traps use a high-powered fan to trap the insects within a storage compartment.
Sticky traps, sometimes called glue traps, are a low-tech alternative to the more expensive options but still provide a protective shield against the most troublesome bugs. However, be sure to keep these traps away from young children and pets as the glue can be hard to remove.
Citronella candles are most effective in conjunction with other pest control methods, such as bug sprays. The scent of citronella has been shown to ward off mosquitoes, with oil derived from lemongrass, but you can’t rely on it being 100 percent effective. On summer evenings and nights that aren’t particularly buggy, a citronella candle can provide decent protection and give off a pleasant scent and warm glow.
If you can’t keep them away, sometimes a strong bug spray is your best bet. There are several natural options, as well as sprays containing DEET for maximum protection. The 12-hour formula from Natrapel protects against mosquitos and ticks using picaridin as the primary repellent.
For more advanced protection, ideal for use in areas with intense bug activity, Ben’s 30% DEET repellent provides a surface barrier on your skin without being absorbed.
Like the Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent, permethrin sprays can keep you protected without having to apply anything to your skin. Effective against a wide array of biting and stinging insects, you can use permethrin on clothing, shoes and outdoor netting.
Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.