10 Time-Tested Tricks for a Bug-Free Backyard

While insects are important in the chain of life, their buzzing and biting can ruin a backyard picnic. Take note and then take aim using these 10 tips that will help you keep your yard bug-free this summer.

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  1. Ban Standing Water


    Standing water is the enemy in your battle against bugs, as it’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Make sure your gutters are unclogged and that any sunken areas in your yard are filled in so that water can’t collect. Even the water in the birdbath and kiddie pool should be regularly changed to prevent those little suckers from multiplying.

    Related: Quick Tip: Cleaning Your Gutters


  2. Move and Remove Attractants


    Garbage can provide a breeding ground for flies, and ants love to feast on the sticky residue left on your recyclables. Make sure all your trash and recycling cans stay covered, and move them away from your yard’s prime entertaining spots.


  3. Keep Food Covered


    Picnics and barbecues are a favorite summer pastime—and your friends and family aren't the only ones who will find your smorgasbord inviting. To keep the six-legged critters out of the party, do your best to keep food covered while entertaining. Silicone Lids (set of four) available on Amazon; $25.


  4. Build a Bat House


    A single bat typically eats 6,000 to 8,000 insects in a night, so consider these nocturnal critters your superhero sidekicks in the fight against bugs. Bolster your bat population by building a bat house, and be glad to see them swooping through your yard at dusk.

    Related: How To: Get Rid of Bats


  5. Attract Birds


    Feathered friends make for fun window-watching, but they can also help with pest control. Most backyard birds eat a diet of berries, seeds, and insects. Make your yard more inviting by planting twiggy shrubs and small trees for cover. Install a birdbath or fountain, and leave your bird feeder out to encourage these creatures to visit often and take up residence.

    Related: 12 Birdhouses We Love


  6. Keep Things Kempt


    Overgrown brush and weeds can provide great habitats and hiding areas for a slew of insects and their brethren. Keep your landscaping tidy, and be sure to trim back tall grass, brush, and weeds around your property.

    Related: The Invincible Yard: 12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping


  7. Build a Bug Trap


    A DIY trap is an easy-to-attain defense mechanism in the fight against backyard bugs. To make your own, cut the top off a two-liter soda bottle and invert it so that the spout points back down into the bottle. Tape the pieces together to seal, then fill with a solution that will attract the type of insect you’re hoping to catch.


  8. Light Up Some Citronella


    Citronella oil comes from a combination of naturally bug-repellent grasses. In candle form, it masks the scents of carbon dioxide and human lactic acid, which are so attractive to insects. And it's perfectly safe too! Approved by the FDA, citronella has been used to flavor foods and beverages for more than 50 years. So, get the tutorial for citronella candles, and light them up at your next backyard party for a bug-free gathering.


  9. Pretreat a Party (OFF! Backyard Pretreat)


    If you know you’re having a gang of people over, you can pretreat your yard the night before with an off-the-shelf spray. OFF! Bug Control Backyard Pretreat connects to a garden hose and can cover a 16,000-square-foot area. It will kill and repel insects for up to eight weeks. Available on Amazon; $13.


  10. Choose Bug-Repellent Plants


    Do yourself a favor while you’re planning your landscaping and mix in some bug-repellent plant varieties. Lavender, marigold, chrysanthemum, and lemongrass, among others, are all known to discourage a host of insects from mosquitoes to aphids.

    Related: The Good Guys: 8 Beneficial Bugs for Your Garden


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