PUBLISHED ON June 15th, 2011
A team of ants gorging on your fruity gelatin salad and invading your sandwiches is not the preferred group of guests you would like to have at your picnic. Outdoor dining is fun, and unfortunately pests feel the same way, so if you want a pest-free picnic or barbecue, you’ll need to employ some pest solutions to make your gathering less attractive to pests. Consider the following pest control tips to ensure you do not have any unwanted guests crashing your next outdoor dining experience.
Knowing what attracts pests to your picnic or barbecue can help you take the proper pest control measures to deter their party crashing. When pests come flocking in to check out your picnic, they’re generally drawn by the same thing you are: the food. Ants and flies are not fussy eaters and are attracted to most foods. Bees are generally most curious about your sweet treats, while wasps and yellow jackets love the smell and taste of meat and sugary foods. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, view you as the buffet.
Bright colors and floral scents can also attract winged insects, so you can help minimize disruptions by avoiding loud tablecloths, bright clothing and flowery scents
You will often find mosquitoes near any type of standing water, because this is where they lay their eggs. Examples of standing water include lakes, ponds, creeks that do not have a fast current, birdbaths, buckets of water and pump-operated garden water features.
One pest solution for mosquitoes is to eliminate any nearby sources of standing water or choose not to eat near them. If you cannot seem to get away from mosquitoes, consider using an insect repellant on exposed areas of your skin. However, when applying mosquito repellant, do so in an area away from your food. Additional pest control options include using citronella candles or bug zappers.
Wasps are most active in the later months of the summer, when they group together to scavenge for food. Their favorites include meat, fish, soda, ripe fruit, vegetables, candy, juice and garbage. The purpose of scavenging is to collect food for their queen. Cold weather kills off many worker yellow jackets, leaving the queen to fend for herself. The stored food helps sustain the queen so she can continue to produce new worker wasps.
Unlike honeybees, yellow jackets do not die after stinging you once; they have the ability to sting you repeatedly. Once you are stung, the venom in a wasp’s sting releases a chemical on you that tells other wasps gather in the immediate vicinity and sting you.
If you see a wasp or yellow jacket around your food, swatting at it is not a good pest solution. This action will only infuriate the insect. Instead, move slowly and look at your surroundings. There may be a nearby wasp nest on the ground or a yellow jacket hive in a tree or under outdoor furniture, the rails of a deck or awning of a roof. If you do notice a nest or hive, pack up your food slowly and find somewhere else to dine.
Many insects crave the food found in garbage cans. Therefore, an easy outdoor pest control technique you can use is avoiding eating near garbage cans, especially those without lids. If you are dining in your own backyard, place all of your garbage in a bag that you can close with a knot, and dispose of it in the main trash can your city empties every week.
Keeping your picnic foods in plastic containers with lids will reduce the smell of food and the amount of pests attracted to it. Instead of pouring drinks into cups, one pest solution is to use bottles with removable lids. If you feel you must keep a container of food uncovered, consider using a domed mesh net over your food to keep flies and other flying insects away.
Picnic pests will not ruin your outdoor meal if you plan ahead and use the pest solutions recommended. However, if you have a nest of wasps or a yellow jacket hive near your home, call a pest control specialist to help you remove it safely.
[ photo by: Mykl Roventine ]