10 Ways to Keep Those Outdoor Bugs Away

published Jun 10, 2016
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(Image credit: Viktorija Reuta)

I’ve lived in the Northeast for more than 10 years now and somehow every summer I forget about bugs. As the days become longer I get excited about grilling, ice cream, and shorts. (Ignorance is bliss!) But then one night I’ll be on someone’s rooftop about to open a beer and I’ll be painfully reminded of blood-thirsty mosquitoes, or that bee that just won’t seem to move away from the guacamole. What are you supposed to do? Stay inside? Buy a house with a screened-in porch? Neither!

Our readers shared their best advice for dealing with bugs when they’re outside this summer. From purchasing special clothing to clipping dryer sheets to your shorts, there are a whole slew of ideas you need to try.

Our Readers’ Best Tips for Keeping the Bugs Away

1. Invest in a fan.

Fans are a great mosquito deterrent — they aren’t strong fliers, and even a light breeze will blow them away. Circulating fans are particularly helpful if you’re trying to cover a larger area (one high, one low). As an added bonus, you get a nice, cooling breeze. – Beth G

2. Create a diversion.

Regarding wasps/yellow jackets/hornets (or whatever they are called in NorCal), when they became a problem (aka they found us), we used to put out extra pieces of meat a fair distance away from our gathering to give them something to eat instead of pestering us. A slice or two of sandwich meat on a paper plate worked wonders; they were happy with uncontested food, and we were left alone.

I view it like a home inspector — give them something to easy find, or they will work extra hard to find something you do not want them to find (my spread). – Waldo was here…maybe?

Re: wasps, etc. — you might also want to look at mounting a fake wasp nest under the eaves of your porch/outdoor area. Apparently, they are territorial and won’t build a nest within 200 feet of another “nest.” – Mary Frances Ellison

3. Bust out the citronella.

Mosquitos naturally do not like anything citronella. I always keep a few candles or citronella plants in my outdoor area and it helps to do the trick. – Nicole Leslie

4. Try permethrin clothes.

[Try] clothing treated with permethrin. Search for the “InsectShield” or “BugsAway” brands (or you can buy permethrin and spray your own clothing — but you need to do it in advance so it completely dries). Much much better than putting stinky repellants on my skin. – Brooklynnina

(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

5. Address the issue of standing water.

We buy the mosquito dunks for the birdbath. When the “donut” dissolves, time to add another to keep them from reproducing. They can still fly, but they are sterile. – MonW

6. Create DIY repellant.

I live in Southwest Florida, right on the edge of the Everglades. I was born here, but the bugs still love me. I have a concoction of essential oils that works well for mosquitos and no-see-ums. I share it with family and friends and they all tell me I should sell it. Here’s the recipe:

3 ounces witch hazel
1 tablespoon jojoba oil
24 drops of each of the following essential oils: cedarwood, lemongrass, citronella, geranium, peppermint, tea tree, neem

Shake it up in a spray bottle. – Suwannee Rose

7. Grow helpful plants.

For you gardeners, I filled seven beds at a client’s property with plant material that attracted pollinators of all kinds. Started with purple and red. Once in a while, a bee sting was nothing compared to the fact that the property was free of all else for years! Even with a shoreline … dragonflies and butterflies plus others do a great job of keeping the “zone” free and clear. When on-site, I didn’t have to use DEET! – Amoret

Plants planted nearby such as rosemary, lemongrass, garlic, marigolds, and mint also have a good knack of keeping mosquitos away. – Nicole Leslie

8. Use plants for even more DIY repellant.

I grow a lot of lemon balm, and usually stop at the nearest balm plant, pick a few springs, and rub them over my exposed skin. It does seem to help, at least with mosquitoes. – Melissa Jordan-Reilly

9. Turn to some dryer sheets.

Wear a dryer sheet. Pin or clip it to your shorts! – Shelley Tucker

10. When all else fails, DEET.

DEET/picaridin, or other effective repellent on you still works the best.
We’ve been subjected to drought-ending monsoons here, and have the standing water ponds, puddles, and rivers out of their banks to prove it.
As the mosquito-preferred snack in my household and in an area with new dangerous diseases carried by mosquitos, prevention is very much on my mind. – MonW

We’re taking the Zika virus threat seriously, so we’ll resort to Deep Woods Off with DEET this summer. Nothing repels mosquitos like that stuff. – Suwannee Rose

Like it or not, DEET works best. Biting insects might not hang around certain plants, but unless you’re sitting in the plant, having them nearby won’t keep them off of you. – LemonyZest

Did we miss any ideas that have worked for you at home? Let us know in the comments! We always want more ideas.

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