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Keep Pests Away from the Barbecue

There’s nothing like a barbecue with friends, family, fun, and food to bring people together. Summer is a great time to spend outside with good people and good food.

Unfortunately, food and summer temperatures also attract the bugs, and it’s tough to enjoy a barbecue with a swarm of wasps or mosquitoes crashing the party. To keep the ants from marching into your summer fun and ruining your barbecue, we’ve listed some pest control methods that you can implement at home.

How to Protect Your Food from Bugs

The pests are most likely to come out once the food is served, so here are a few ways to keep them from landing on your plate.

One easy thing to do is to put a food tent over each plate, which works well against flies and wasps. You can buy food tents online, or you can cover the plates with a fine-mesh colander, a shower cap, or tin foil.

Food tents work well before you start eating, but they don’t stop the bugs from showing up in the first place. But there are a few food-safe options you can implement to make them less likely to drop by.

Many essential oils from plants as well as strong aromas are proven to repel wasps while others drive off mosquitoes.

  • Lavender
  • Bay leaf
  • Bee Balm
  • Basil
  • Scented Geranium
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • White vinegar
  • Marigolds
  • Citrus, such as lemon, lime, or orange peels
  • Place sprigs of these plants, or zested citrus peels around the barbecue as a barrier for pesky visitors. Pour white vinegar in a spray bottle to use on any bugs that come near. Rubbing alcohol also works well for a kill-on-contact spray, but it isn’t quite as food-friendly as vinegar.

    You can make your own homemade wasp repellent that works for mosquitoes, wasps, and flies. Use essential oil from geranium, peppermint, citronella, clove, lemongrass, or rosemary. Mix one drop of oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle and apply it anywhere. The smell works well against most flying insects, and the solution is safe to use around food.

    Home Remedies for Wasps

    Wasps are some of the most notorious gatecrashers of the pest world. If you’re allergic, their stings can cause big problems, not to mention the fact that they also dive-bomb into soda cans and raid platefuls of food.

    To keep these flying fiends away from your barbecue, you can stop them from nesting nearby in the first place by following these instructions to make a DIY wasp decoy. This is a fake wasp nest that tricks the wasps into thinking a rival colony has already set up shop. Just stuff a white or brown paper lunch bag with plastic bags (to make it puffy), tie off the top with string or rubber bands, tie a hook or bent paper clip on the top, and draw a quarter-sized black dot on the bottom corner of the bag. Hang as many of these as you want wherever wasps make nests, such as the shed, the corners of the eaves, or near the wood-pile. You can read more details about making your own wasp DIY wasp decoy here.

    If wasps are already flying around the yard, decoys won’t do much good to stop them. But you can follow these instructions to make a DIY wasp trap with a two-liter bottle. Just cut off the top of the bottle then reattach it with the lid facing down. Place some wasp bait inside, like meat, sugar water, or soda, and hang the trap around your barbecue or near wasp nests. Once they fly inside, the wasps can’t get back out.

    You can do the same thing with regular 12-ounce soda cans by taping a cone-shaped piece of paper in the opening to prevent them from escaping. Before the barbecue, you can place several of these cans around the area so the wasps are trapped before they become a problem.


    Not only can mosquitoes be a real nuisance, but they can also carry diseases like West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, and Zika virus. However, you can use the aromas that deter mosquitoes, like lavender, bay leaves, garlic, and the other scents mentioned above to keep them away. Plus, there are a couple of other effective ways to deter mosquitoes.

    Make your own mosquito coil, which creates strong-smelling smoke that forces mosquitoes to stay away. Just smolder untreated cardboard by lighting it on fire and blowing it out. Set the cardboard in a pie tin and let the smoke float over the area. You can also make your own scented smoke by putting rosemary, sage, and peppermint leaves in the hot coals, which will also give a special seasoning flavor to your food.

    Since wind throws mosquitoes off during flight, create your own wind with regular house fans or battery-powered fans. Aim these at the food or let them pan back and forth. Flies and mosquitoes will be blown away and wasps are less likely to stick around as well.


    While the fan trick works well for flies, you can also make your own flytrap. Just mix cornmeal or cornstarch with molasses in a pie tin. Place these around the barbecue, especially where flies tend to congregate. The flies are attracted to the sweet molasses and get stuck in it, sort of like homemade flypaper.


    Especially in cartoons but also in real life, ants are infamous for invading picnics and barbecues. Carpenter ants are also capable of causing problems at parties. Carpenter ants are especially problematic in the yard because they are likely to find their way inside and start carving in the wood, causing all kinds of problems.

    No matter what kind of ant they are, no one wants them to crash their barbecue. Even though it’s impossible to completely get rid of them without professional help, there are a few things you can do that will help to keep them at bay. Soak cotton balls with sugar water and liquid boric acid. Boric acid is a safe product used in household cleaning supplies that are relatively safe for humans but cause havoc for insects. Place the sugary cotton balls around the picnic or barbecue.

    You can also create a barrier by crumbling charcoal in a shallow line around the area. The ants dislike the charcoal’s texture and will try to avoid it. You can also use food-grade diatomaceous earth in the same way.

    Professional Pest Control

    Although these efforts might be effective over the short term, they’re not going to keep pests at bay forever. That’s where Fox can make all the difference for you.

    When you call Fox, our Service Coordinators are ready to help you directly over the phone. Our Pest Professionals will arrive at your home to evaluate the pest problem and create a treatment process specifically tailored to your needs. You can rest easy knowing our family and pet safe, environmentally friendly products are controlling the pests for you.

    Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

    Posted on May 18, 2020.

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