With a little planning and prep, you can keep bugs from taking over your cookout.


Summer is right around the corner and that means backyard barbecues galore. Sure, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are all big outdoor holidays, but any bright summer day is excuse enough for a cookout.

Steps to Reduce Pests at Your Outdoor Cookout

The last thing you want when you’re getting ready to fire up the grill is uninvited guests in the form of pesky bugs. Stinging insects such as bees and wasps can pose a real threat to anyone who’s allergic to them, and the annoying bite of mosquitoes can potentially transmit nasty diseases. Here are a few things you can do to prep your yard for the festivities and make sure pests don’t ruin the fun.

Preventing Ants, Flies, Mosquitoes and Ticks Before the BBQ

lawn mower 


  • Mow the grass the day before your cookout. This will help reduce harborage for bugs such as ticks that could be hanging out in tall grass or weeds.
  • Pests love gardens and fruit trees. Pick up fallen fruit and remove it from the yard.
  • Drain any stagnant or standing water and get rid of any other .

Keeping Pests Away During the Cookout

  • Have an EPA-approved insect repellent with DEET on hand to ward off mosquitoes.
  • Consider wearing long pants and sleeves if the weather permits.
  • Have paper towels and napkins at the ready, and make sure the food prep area is clean of crumbs by wiping down surfaces and cleaning up spills as they happen. Cover food until it’s ready to be served to keep from attracting pests. Immediately re-cover food after serving.
  • Keep trashcans on the outside perimeter and downwind of your food area. Use containers that have a tightly sealed lid to keep ants, stinging insects and flies away from food and drinks after they’ve been discarded.
  • Keep the lids on all beverage containers and store drinks in a cooler until they’re needed. Stinging insects are attracted to sweet drinks such as soda and juice.
  • Use a small box fan to create a breeze over the food and dining tables to deter flies from sticking around.

Bonus Tip: How to create a kid-friendly cookout

Get Kids Involved

  • Organizing paper plates and plasticware and arranging place settings are great ideas for children to help contribute.
  • Have them weigh in on some of the snack ideas and have them help you.
  • Healthy snacks like carrots and celery sticks, dips for dipping like hummus or fresh salsas and easy grab-and-go kids’ snacks like grapes or strawberries are always crowd-pleasers.
  • Put their creative minds to work on a kids’ craft. Sit kids down at the table outside and have them decorate centerpieces.

With a little planning and prep, you can keep bugs from taking over your cookout. Now get out there and get cooking!