How To: Prevent Bugs from Ruining Your Backyard BBQ

At so many backyard barbecues, insects are the uninvited guest. Fortunately, armed with these tips from the National Pest Management Association, you can prevent ants, flies, mosquitoes from ruining the good time for everyone.

By Jim Fredericks for NPMA | Updated Jun 23, 2015 11:17 PM

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How to Keep Bugs Away from Your Barbecue - Grill Ready


With the official start of summer just days away, we can’t help but think about the coming days of relaxing by the pool and nights of cooking out with family and friends. However, there are some not-so-pleasant parts that we quickly forget, like humidity, sunburns, and bugs.

Ants, flies, mosquitoes, and stinging insects are most active during the warm summer months, which means we should expect to see larger populations of them as we move deeper into the season. Some of these pesky insects are known to pose significant threats to our health by causing allergic reactions and spreading disease, so it’s important to avoid them at all costs when outdoors.

If you are planning on hosting a backyard barbecue or picnic this summer, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has all the essential ingredients you’ll need to keep pests from crashing the party. Consider the following tips:

1. Keep doors closed. Prior to the party, do a quick check of your window screens and screen doors to ensure there are no visible rips or tears. Repair any that you may find to keep small pests from easily entering the home. Also, once your guests have arrived, remind them to shut the door tightly behind them. It’s never fun to discover a house fly buzzing around the kitchen!

2. Get rid of standing water. Did you know that mosquitoes only need about ½ inch of water to breed? Remove or drain standing water in your yard from sources such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, and grill covers to prevent a mosquito-breeding ground.

3. Wear bug repellent. Most mosquitoes are active between dusk and dawn. If you are hosting a get-together before sunset, ensure that you have plenty of insect repellant available for you and your guests. It should contain an EPA-registered active ingredient such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon-eucalyptus, or IR3535.

4. Avoid scented items. As if the smell of the barbecue wasn’t attractive enough, some stinging and biting insects are attracted to fragrances from shampoo, perfume, and candles. Avoid using these and other scented items. Instead, try unscented alternatives.

5. Serve food inside. Just like people, many pests, like ants, flies, and yellow jackets, are drawn to barbecue fare, so if at all possible, plan to serve food and drinks indoors and reserve outdoor space for eating and entertaining. If food must be served outside, keep it in covered containers at all times.

6. Use plastic cups. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are good hiding spots for stinging insects, so guests should consider pouring their drinks into plastic cups.

7. Clean up. Try to wipe up spills and crumbs on picnic tables and other surfaces right away to avoid attracting bugs to the area. Also, don’t let trash sit around the backyard for a long period of time. Occasionally pick up abandoned plates and cups, and toss them in a sealed garbage bin stored away from guests.

There’s no denying that bugs are synonymous with outdoor picnics, and avoiding them can be quite difficult. If you’re still concerned about pests making an uninvited appearance at your picnic or barbecue, consider bringing in a licensed pest professional to inspect your property before the party. A pest control professional will be able to identify, treat, and remove potential pest hideouts that may not be noticeable to the untrained eye.

For more information on common household pests, visit

How to Keep Bugs Away from Your Barbecue - Window Screen Closeup


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