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How to Have a Pest-free Barbecue

Summer barbecues are a great way to gather family, fun, and food together. Whether it’s in your backyard or at a park, spending time with family and friends at a barbecue has no replacement

Unfortunately, where there’s food, the bugs aren’t far behind. And nothing can spoil a party faster than a swarm of stinging wasps, biting mosquitoes, swarming flies, or marching ants.

To keep the pests from dive-bombing your summer activities, we’ve provided some of the most common pests that could show up to your barbecue and a few things you can do to keep them away.

Protect the Barbecue Food

Once the food is served, the pests will come. But there are a few things you can do to fend the pests off your plate.

One simple thing you can do is put a food tent over each plate. There are food tents you can buy online, or you can cover the food with a fine-mesh colander, a shower cap, or tin foil.

To keep pests from coming near the food in the first place, there are a few food-safe options you can use against wasps, mosquitoes, and other flying insects.

Insects dislike and avoid these scents. Many of them are scientifically proven to repel wasps, while others repel mosquitoes.

  • Marigolds
  • Citronella
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Garlic/li>
  • Sage
  • clove
  • Rosemary
  • Scented geranium
  • Basil
  • Bee balm
  • Bay leaf
  • Lavender/li>
  • White vinegar
  • Citrus, such as lemon, lime, or orange peels

There is more than one way to help these plants and scents work for you. Place bundles of leaves and crushed or zested citrus peels around the barbecue to make pests less likely to come around. You can also use an essential oil diffuser or humidifier to spread the scent evenly.

With white vinegar, you can make your own homemade bug spray that kills the bugs on contact. Simply put vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it directly on invading pests. Rubbing alcohol also works extremely well. Alternatively, you can mix grease-fighting dish soap with water in a spray bottle. WD-40 and other grease-fighting substances destroy many insects on contact. Vinegar, however, is much safer for food than the other options.

While those sprays only kill insects on contact, you can make your own bug repellent that works on wasps, mosquitoes, and most flying insects. Mix one drop of essential oil for each 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. For maximum effectiveness, use peppermint, clove, lemongrass, geranium, citronella, and rosemary. The spots you spray with this solution should remain free of wasps and mosquitoes for hours.

Wasp Remedies

Besides their freaky appearance, wasps can dive-bomb into soda cans, raid plates of food, and sting people. And, if anyone is allergic, wasps can cause huge problems.

Prevent these fiendish flying stingers from coming around in the first place by following these instructions to make a DIY wasp decoy. Some wasps don’t make nests in an area that already has an established wasp nest, so this fake wasp nest tricks them into leaving and building their nest in a different area. Either purchase a wasp decoy online or make one yourself.

To make your own wasp decoy, stuff a white or brown paper bag with plastic sacks to make it look puffy. Then tie off the top with rubber bands or string, and attach a hook or bent paper clip to the top for easy hanging. Draw a quarter-sized dot on the bottom front corner so the wasps think it’s the nest entrance. Hang one of these on every corner of the house, inside or outside the shed, and around the woodpile or other areas where wasps commonly build nests.

Because wasp decoys only work on certain kinds of wasps, knowing how to make a DIY wasp trap can make a big difference as well. Remove the bottle cap from a two-liter bottle. Cut off the top of the bottle and reattach it with the lid facing down. Put meat, sugary water, or soda at the bottom as bait for the wasps. Place or hang these near wasp nests or near places wasps commonly hang out. When the wasp crawls inside, it won't figure out how to escape.

You can also make a smaller trap with a regular 12-ounce can of soda. Simply tape a cone-shaped piece of paper or plastic in the opening of a half-empty can. Place these around the barbecue to lure the wasps away from the food and into the cans.


Not only can mosquitoes be annoying, but they can also be a serious problem. Mosquitoes are known to carry diseases like West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, and Zika virus. But with the scents mentioned above, especially citronella, mosquitoes are much less likely to crash your barbecue.

You can purchase mosquito coils online, which use scented smoke to keep mosquitoes at bay. Or you can make your own smoky repellent with untreated cardboard. Light the cardboard, blow out the flames, and let it smoke in a pie tin near the barbecue.

Mosquitoes don’t like heavy smoke, and they especially dislike the smell of certain essential oils. Citronella candles purchased online use smoke and citronella oil together against mosquitoes. You can make your own scented smoke by putting sprigs of citronella, rosemary, peppermint, sage, or clove in the barbecue coals.

Lastly, since they aren’t very good fliers, you can use wind against mosquitoes. Regular house fans work fine, but battery-powered fans are more portable. Either set up one to blow on the food or let one pan across the party. The heavy airflow will keep the flying insects from sticking around, especially the mosquitoes.


Fans are effective at keeping the flies away from the food. In addition, you can make your own flytrap with cornmeal or cornstarch mixed with molasses. Pour a thin layer of the mixture into pie tins and place these around the barbecue, especially wherever flies tend to group together. Like flypaper, the flies are attracted to the sweet smell and get stuck in the mixture.


Tough to get rid of without professional help, ants can infest anything and cause trouble for any picnic or barbecue. When carpenter ants create a colony near your house, they may eventually find their way inside. Using their powerful jaws, they carve tunnels through the wood in the house, causing a huge amount of damage.

While it’s best for the professionals to get involved, there are a few things you can do to keep ants away from the barbecue. Soak cotton balls in sugar water or soda mixed with a little liquid boric acid, which you can purchase online or from a hardware store. Boric acid is a safe chemical used in many household cleaning supplies, but it causes lots of problems for ants. Place these cotton balls around the barbecue and watch them head directly for the bait.

You can also use the molasses mixed with cornmeal or cornstarch against the ants. Simply put the mixture on paper plates instead of pie tins to give the ants better access.

Ants and many other crawling insects dislike certain textures because they cut the protective cuticle around their exoskeleton. Crumble charcoal around the areas you don’t want ants to invade. Alternatively, you can also use food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is a family-safe product as well.

Professional Pest Control

Even though these methods are effective for short term events, professional pest control is more reliable over the long run. Any of these pests could cause serious issues if they set up an infestation in or around the home.

Fox has all the tools and experience needed to help you. When you call Fox, our Service Coordinators will provide a free quote and schedule your initial service. Our Pest Pros will examine your home and form a treatment plan based on your situation.

You can rest easy knowing our family-friendly, pet-safe, and environmentally responsible products are working to control pests so that you don’t have to worry.

Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on May 18, 2020.


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