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Tips For a Bug-Free Cookout

It’s always fun to celebrate by having a cookout with family and friends. Enjoying the warm weather is great, but you have to worry about uninvited guests, namely pests. These pesky bugs have a tendency of putting a damper on the fun. Keep these intruders away from your cookout with these helpful tips and tricks.

Common Cookout Pests


There are some pests that are more likely to ruin your outdoor fun than others. Check out a few of the most common cookout invaders.

  • Ants: Ants are usually looking for proteins, oils, fats, and sweets. These are typically found in all your favorite cookout treats. If these pests find your food, it will be hard to get them to leave the party. They release pheromones that alert other ants to a food source.
  • Mosquitoes: By midsummer, adult mosquitoes are very active throughout the day. Your cookout or picnic is a perfect time for them to find you while you’re distracted with your fun activities.
  • Flies: Flies, like houseflies and fruit flies, are always ready to crash your barbeque or picnic. Flies will go straight from rummaging through your garbage to landing on your burger and potato salad.
  • Stinging Insects: Stinging insects, including wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, love any food with sugar or high levels of carbohydrates, which means your cookout is the perfect place for them to hang out. Watch out for stinging insects and their nests when you search for extra chairs or set up yard games.

Tips for a Bug-Free Cookout


These bugs may want to crash your cookout, but there are things you can do to keep them away. Here are some tips to help you keep these pests at bay.

Keep Food and Drinks Covered

Mason jar drink

Keep those annoying flies and other insects off all the delicious treats. Cover food with the container’s lid, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. Use a pitcher or drink dispenser that can be closed when not in use. You’ll also want to clean up any crumbs or spills to avoid attracting bugs.

Eliminate Standing Water

Water in dish in garden

Standing water is a magnet for mosquitoes. These pests can lay eggs in as little as ½ inch of water. Remove items that collect water in your yard like toys and empty flowerpots. Check for leaky faucets and keep your gutters clean to avoid moisture build-up. If you have a pool, keep it clean to deter mosquitoes.

Keep Your Yard Clean

Trimming plant

Before having a cookout, clean up your yard. Mow your lawn and remove leaf litter, sticks, and other yard debris. Trim weeds and overgrown vegetation. Maintaining your lawn will limit hiding spots for bugs and discourage them from sticking around.

Use Your Fans

Patio with fan

Try having an oscillating fan in your serving or dining area. Many bugs struggle to fly in windy conditions. The air currents will help keep mosquitoes and other flying insects away so they can’t get to your guests or your food.

Clean Up Trash

Trash bin

Cleaning up trash can help prevent bugs. Place trash in sealed bins and store them away from your eating area. You’ll also want to keep trash bins clean. Dirty trash cans or those filled with trash can be major bug magnets. Be sure to keep your trash receptacles hosed out.

Be Careful Where You Set Up

Yellow jacket nest

When setting up for your cookout, be mindful of where you place chairs and yard games. Wasps build nests in shrubs and trees while yellow jackets place nests underground. Make sure you don’t set up near a nest. You can also spray nests with our plant-based Wasp & Hornet Killer to help get rid of these pests

Dress for Success

Setting table

When possible, wear long sleeves and pants to avoid hungry mosquitoes. You should also avoid strong colognes, perfumes, and lotions as these can attract stinging insects. Applying our Natural Insect Repellent can help to keep mosquitoes, flies, and ticks from bugging you.

Decorate With Bug-Repelling Flowers

Vase of flowers

Marigolds, chrysanthemums, lavender, and petunias act as natural insect repellents. Place some of these flowers at each table to help keep insects away from where you and your guests will be eating and enjoying yourselves.

Herbs on the Grill


Many herbs are natural bug repellents. Sage, basil, thyme, and rosemary are known to help repel pests. Throwing these herbs directly on the grill coals while barbecuing will help keep those unwanted pests away. Be sure to soak the herbs in water before tossing them on the grill.

Spray Your Yard

Mosquito & Tick Killer

Before a cookout or picnic, it's always a good idea to spray for bugs ahead of time with an effective Yard Bug Spray or Mosquito & Tick Killer. Hose-end sprayers are ideal for covering larger areas of your lawn. These plant-based sprays kill pests on contact and provide residual repellency.

Use Ant Baits

No Spill Ant Kill

If you notice ants scurrying around your yard, try using a mineral-based ant bait. Our No Spill Ant Kill is designed to allow ants to carry the bait back to the colony, helping to eliminate the source of the infestation.

What are your go-to tricks for keeping bugs away from your cookout or picnic? We'd love to hear them! Leave us a comment below.


For scientifically-tested, effective pest control in your yard and patio that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.

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