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28 June 2011

Banish the Bugs

Planning an outdoor celebration soon, maybe for the Fourth of July?  Here's a few tips and tricks to help keep some of those uninvited pests from crashing the party:
  1. To keep ants from crawling up table legs, place several cucumber peels around each leg.  Ants are averse to cucumber and will stay away, just be sure each leg is securely surrounded by a ring of peel to prevent any interlopers.  (You can use slices of cucumber as well, but why waste perfectly good veggies?)
  2. Keep flies, wasps, and other insects from sampling the food by inverting inexpensive, wire-mesh colanders over the food platters.
  3. Bowls of brightly-colored sugar water placed several feet away from the party area will draw insects (particularly wasps and bees) away from both the food and your guests.
  4. Clear, zipper-seal storage bags filled with water and hung from tree limbs or eaves, or placed on a table or the ground will draw flies and flying insects.
  5. Create an ant-free zone by sprinkling a heavy layer of ground cinnamon around the area you want to protect (i.e. a table or the entire patio).  This will also trap any stray ants inside the ant-free zone, so be sure you have most of them relocated before applying the cinnamon barrier!
  6. Consider planting pots of basil, lemongrass, citronella, rosemary, catnip, marigolds, garlic, or tansies.  These are all plants with natural mosquito repelling qualities and they can be used as part of the party decorations.  (Many greenhouses have huge sales going on this time year, you could pick up several small plants for minimal cost and place them among the seating area and tables.)
Even using these tips, you'll still want to consider lighting citronella candles and having insect repellent/bug spray available for your guests to use.  Also, remember to keep sugary foods and drinks tightly covered until ready to serve.


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