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Keep Pests off the Barbecue

When it comes to time for family, fun, and food, there’s nothing like a summer barbecue.

Since bugs like the food as much as we do, nothing can ruin a barbecue faster than a swarm of mosquitoes or wasps, or a colony of marching ants.

Here are just a few home remedies you can use to keep the pests from keeping you from having your summer fun.

Protect the Barbecue Food

Once the food is served, the bugs are most likely to start coming out of nowhere. The best way to keep them off the food is to place a food tent over the plates. Food tents are available online, or you can make your own by using a fine-mesh colander, a shower cap, or tin foil.

During preparations for the barbecue, there are plenty of food-safe aromas you can spread around the area. Many of these strong smells are proven to repel wasps and drive off mosquitoes.

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

There are several ways to spread these pleasant scents to ward off the insects. Zested or crushed citrus peels in bowls around the barbecue will give the party a great smell and bother the bugs. Crushed sprigs of these plants will smell pretty strong, but you can also get an essential oil diffuser.

Homemade bug spray works well also. Just put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it directly on any pests that come along. You can also use rubbing alcohol, which might work a little better in some cases, but white vinegar is more food-friendly.

Make your own insect repellent that works for wasps, mosquitoes, and certain kinds of flies. Mix one drop of essential oil for every 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Use oils like peppermint, clove, lemongrass, geranium, citronella, or rosemary, and any spots you spray should stay bug-free for hours.

Remedies for Wasps

Wasps cause all kinds of problems when they raid a party. They dive-bomb into soda cans, hover around plates, and a sting can be serious for people who are allergic.

Prevent these flying stingers from showing up in the first place by following these instructions to make a DIY wasp decoy. A wasp decoy is a fake nest that makes wasps think that a rival hive has already made a nest. Many species of wasp won’t make a nest anywhere near one that has already been set up. Purchase wasp decoys online, or make one of your own.

Stuff a white or brown paper bag with plastic sacks to make it look puffy, tie off the top with rubber bands or string. Attach a hook or bent paperclip on the top for easy hanging, and draw a quarter-sized dot on the bottom front corner, which looks like a nest entrance to a wasp. Hang one of these on all the corners of the eaves, near the shed, or around the woodpile.

Since wasp decoys only work if they’re set up before the wasp season begins, it’s a good idea to know how to make a DIY wasp trap out of a two-liter bottle. Remove the cap and then cut off the top of the bottle and reattach it with the lid facing down. Put meat, sugary water, or soda at the bottom. Hang these anywhere wasps have made nests. Once the wasps crawl inside for the bait, they can’t figure out how to escape.

You can accomplish the same thing with a 12-ounce can of soda. Just tape a cone-shaped piece of paper or plastic in the opening in a half-empty can. Place these around the barbecue, and hopefully the wasps will go for the traps before they go for your food.


Mosquitoes can be annoying, but they can also be a big problem since mosquitoes can carry serious diseases like West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, and Zika virus. But with scents like lavender, bay leaves, citronella, and peppermint make mosquitoes much less likely to gatecrash your barbecue.

You can purchase mosquito coils online or make one at home by smoldering untreated cardboard or burning bundles of citronella leaves. Just light the cardboard on fire, blow out the flames, and let it smoke over the area.

Online citronella candles can be a great aromatic solution for mosquitoes at the barbecue because of its scented smoke. Or, you can make your own scented smoke by putting a sprig of citronella, rosemary, peppermint, sage, or cloves in the hot barbecue coals.

Since mosquitoes are poor fliers, they’re pretty easy to blow off course. When the wind is strong enough, mosquitoes take shelter. Make your own wind with electric fans that are directed over the food or pan across the party. The airflow will discourage mosquitoes and plenty of other flying insects from sticking around.


Fans are effective for keeping flies away from the tables. Also, you can make your own flytrap with cornmeal or cornstarch mixed with molasses. Put a thin layer of this in pie tins and place them around the party and wherever flies tend to congregate. Much like flypaper, the flies are attracted to the sweet molasses and get stuck in it.


Difficult to eradicate without professional help and able to infest almost anything, ants can cause trouble for any picnic or barbecue. When carpenter ants nest near the house, they can eventually find their way inside. They use their strong jaws to carve tunnels in the wood of your home and cause huge amounts of damage.

Even if it’s best for the professionals to get involved when ants are inside the house, there are a couple of things you can do to keep them away from your barbecue. Soak cotton balls in sugar water mixed with some liquid boric acid, which you can purchase online or from a hardware store. Boric acid is a component in many household cleaning supplies that’s safe around the family, but it causes big problems for the tiny ants. Place these cotton balls on the ground around the barbecue and watch the ants head directly for the bait.

Ants dislike certain textures because it cuts the protective sheath around their exoskeleton. Several substances work against them. Crumble charcoal around any area you don’t want ants to come marching in. Alternatively, you can also use food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is also a very safe product that works against ants and many other pests as well.

Professional Pest Control

While these methods will work well against pests over the short term, professional pest control services are the most reliable over the long run. Any of these pests could cause serious problems if they set up an infestation inside the house, and the professionals have all the tools you need to get rid of pests for good.

When you call Fox, our Service Coordinators will provide a free quote over the phone and schedule your initial service. Our Pest Pros will examine your home thoroughly and create a treatment plan based on your situation and needs.Rest assured knowing our family-friendly, pet-safe, and environmentally responsible products control the pests so you can return to normal life.

Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on May 18, 2020.

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