Outdoor living spaces are great, especially during the summer months, but the pleasures of lazily lounging in your alfresco may be ruined by the presence of some uninvited guests. Summer brings all the things we love — warmth, greenery and soothing summer drizzles, among many others. However, what we love about summer are the very same things that bring the bugs out. And where there are insects there is always the possibility of insect bites and stings.
Here are some ways you can keep stinging, biting or just plain annoying insects away from your alfresco or patio.
Don’t Make Them Feel Welcome
To start off, don’t give insects any encouragement or motivation to drop by and pay you a visit. Regularly check around your alfresco and your yard for conditions that may attract bugs such as ants. This means taking some time to clean up around the area each day, but the effort will be well worth it for you and your guests.
Remove stagnant water. This is where mosquitoes breed. See where water tends to collect and take steps to eliminate these potential insect breeding grounds. If you cannot remove the water, or the water needs to be there, either cover the area with a window screen to prevent mosquitoes from landing, or agitate the water’s surface using a small pump to make it unattractive to insects. Drainage of the area is also a consideration you should undertake if you are planning an outdoor area.
Move trash bins away. Flies and ants are easily attracted by recyclable waste. Move the garbage bin for your recyclables as far away as possible from your home and from the alfresco. Also make sure that the lid fits snugly
Don’t make food their friend. 99% of the time you will be bringing food out to the alfresco or be preparing it there. Bring food out as close to serving time as possible, and keep it covered at all times. Clean up after so that spilled food and leftovers do not attract insects
Light ‘em up. Insects love lights. On summer nights they will be mesmerized by all the bright, shiny lamps and bulbs in your alfresco, and they will flock toward these. To minimize the annoyance this creates, try switching to spot lights, which you can position far away and aim toward the spots you want illuminated. Insects will still be attracted, but because the lights are far from where people are, it probably be less annoying for you and your visitors. You can also try yellow lights. Insects are attracted to lights in the colder end of the spectrum — blues and violets. But they do not see very well in the other end of the spectrum — warm yellows and reds.
Natural Repellents and Controls
Certain plants give off chemicals that insects such as mosquito find repugnant. Having these plants around and within your alfresco may deter some bugs from hanging around. Lemon thyme releases a substance that repels mosquitoes. Catnip is one flowering plant that takes on mosquitoes, weevils and cockroaches and is reportedly 10 times more effective than DEET, the ultimate bug spray. Other useful insect-repelling vegetation include Lavender, Rosemary, Marigolds, Basil, Garlic, Oregano, Wormwood and mints.
If it’s not convenient or possible to maintain these natural insect-repellent plants, or to augment them, you could employ products that make use of extracts and ingredients from these plants. Citronella candles, for example, are non-intrusive and also functional. Natural salves, lotions and aerogard will also help to keep insects away.
So much for the preventive options; what do you do when the bugs are here? When all else fails and you come face-to-face with the enemy, bug spray is the remaining weapon of choice. And when it comes to sprays, you have many options available. Commercial bug sprays from Mortein, Amgrow and Coles’ have received rave reviews from actual market use. There are also more natural products available, if you prefer these. Or you can mix up your own bug spray mix using nothing else but water and some lemon essence, peppermint oil or citronella oil.
Drop Down Blinds and Screens
Drop down blinds and screens are effective in keeping bugs out of your living space. And they also provide the benefit of being economical and 100% safe. Blinds and screens are barriers that keep insects out of your alfresco, but they still allow you to enjoy the sun, the breeze and the view. Drop down blinds can be retracted when not needed.