I’m not a big fan of bugs. Even if you don’t mind them, who wants bugs crawling over their food as we’re trying to enjoy our picnic? That’s why when Allen Miller contacted me about sharing a post (also found here) on keeping bugs away from your picnic basket, I was all about it. I hope you find this article as helpful as I did. And may your next picnic be bug free!
As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the idea of al fresco dining becomes more and more appealing. When those pleasant daydreams become a reality, nothing foils the pretty picture as quickly as an infestation of insects. These ten tips can help you enjoy a fun-filled day of picnicking and outdoor play without a passel of creepy, crawly, uninvited guests!
- Dress to Blend In – Standing out in a crowd is a good thing, most of the time. When you’re dining outdoors and you’re dressed in the bright, summery colors that go hand-in-hand with such a festive occasion, however, you’re just asking for trouble. Remember that many flying feed from brightly-colored flowers, and that your magenta top calls to them like a beacon. Opt for crisp, cool neutrals and opt to blend in, instead.
- Try to Stay on Dry Land – The pond, stream or lake that seems like such a picturesque setting for a picnic may photograph well, but it may also be home to scads of bloodsucking mosquitoes and other insects. Move farther inland to avoid those bug-laden breezes during mealtime.
- Pack Plenty of Citrus Peels – Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are refreshing and juicy, but the strong and bitter oils within their rinds are quite the bug repellent. Feed the kids a feast of orange slices, and save all of your citrus peels the day before your picnic. Seal them up in a zipper-topped plastic bag, and pack them at the top of your basket. Before setting out the spread, place the peels around your picnic site. Bugs will avoid the sharp scent.
- Float Your Picnic Table – While parking next to a pond for your picnic lunch is an invitation to the mosquitoes, placing pie tins full of water under each leg of your table may save your outdoor meal! Ants can cross water, which means that they won’t be able to crawl from the ground up the legs of your picnic table to troop across your feast.
- Decorate to Disgust – Marigolds are bright, summery blooms that make a pretty centerpiece for your picnic blanket or table, but they have strong insect-repelling properties that make them the perfect decorating choice.
- Got it Covered? – It seems simple, but it’s important to keep all of your food covered when it’s not actively being eaten. This is especially true of sweet, bug-attracting foods like melon, sugary soda and ripe fruit. Make sure that these items are in tightly-sealed containers that aren’t opened until it’s time to eat, and are promptly disposed of after the meal.
- Skip the Scents – Smelling great might attract other humans, but it can also draw the bugs like nobody’s business. Make sure that you’re not spritzed with your signature scent before embarking on your picnic adventure, or you may find yourself the center of every insect’s attention.
- Stay in the Clear – Flies and gnats love sugary drinks and juices, but so do stinging insects like bees and yellow jackets. These little buggers have been known to crawl inside a can of juice or soda, only to sting an unwitting picnicker directly on the mouth when they tip the can to their lips. Instead of drinking from cans, which can be coated with dirt and bacteria from the shipping process anyway, opt for transparent vessels that will easily disclose the presence of a stinging insect.
- Get Minty Fresh – The mouthwash that keeps your mouth feeling clean and fresh all day can also keep the bugs away! Transfer a bit of your mouthwash to a spray bottle, then use it as an all-natural alternative to DEET-laden chemical repellents for personal use.
- Host a Feast for Your Flying Guests – If you can’t beat them, invite them to lunch. At their own table, that is! A few yards from your picnic site, set up a banquet for the bugs by setting out overripe fruit, bowls of sugary water tinted with food coloring and bits of melon. The insects will be so caught up in their own feast that they won’t be bothered with trying to invade yours.
It’s important that your bug-repellent methods are safe for the little ones in your entourage, as curious little ones will put anything into their mouths and older kids distracted by the lure of the outdoors aren’t always known for washing their hands. Before you reach for that big bottle of bug spray, consider a more natural approach to an insect-free lunch.