Plus, tips from an exterminator about when to implement them.

'Tis the season for outdoor entertaining, and whether you're inviting your extended family over for a backyard barbecue or an al fresco dinner for your closest friends on your patio, you definitely don't want bugs around. "During the summer, hot and humid weather brings out an abundance of mosquitoes, ants, ticks, termites, and stinging insects (such as bees and wasps), especially near wooded areas," says Timothy Wong of M&M Pest Control in New York City. "The kinds of outdoor pests that homeowners deal with often depends on where you live and the time of year."

family laughing during dinner on patio
Credit: Getty / Thomas Barwick

And while uninvited insects are always an annoyance, Wong says certain outdoor pests can cause injuries, spread diseases, and damage your property. "Bees, wasps, and certain species of ants are known for painful stings or bites that can result in itchiness, inflammation, and potentially serious allergic reactions," he explains. "Mosquito and tick bites can transmit diseases, and termites can cause significant damage to grass, plants, and structures." Curious how you can keep pesky bugs at bay in your outdoor entertaining area? We asked Wong for advice about the best pest control options, and when to implement them, and here's what he had to share.

Spray regularly, starting in early spring.

For outdoor areas with no prior infestations, Wong recommends using a preventative pest control spray at least once every three months, and at the beginning of spring, to keep bugs at bay. "Spraying in early spring is an important preventative measure because it eliminates nests and colonies before pests have a chance to reproduce," he explains. "In the summer, when warm weather brings higher pest activity, we recommend increasing the frequency of spraying to once per month."

Use a curative spray anytime.

If you were unable to spray this spring, Wong says it's not a problem. "Both preventative and curative pesticides can be sprayed at regular intervals to help kill and control active pest populations in your yard, just remember to check the label first," he says. "There are also a variety of safe, eco-friendly repellents that can be sprayed around outdoor furniture and common areas to keep pests at bay."

Manage mosquitoes by spraying when it's not as hot outside.

To tackle mosquitoes, Wong suggests spraying in the cooler hours of the morning or night when they are the most active to achieve the best results. "Pay particular attention when spraying dark, humid areas where they like to rest, and remove or cover any bodies of standing water where they lay eggs," he says.

Treat ants differently.

When dealing with ants, Wong says spraying can be counterproductive. "For ants, we advise against spraying because that will only warn other ants to stay away and search for food away from the area you sprayed," he explains. "Ants are social insects, which means they live in large colonies or groups. Instead of spraying household ant killer, use ant non-repellent baits which will allow them to share the poison with other ants within their colony thus eliminating the source of the problem."

Don't mess with bees and wasps when they're awake.

For flying nest insects like bees and wasps, Wong recommends spraying late in the evening or at night when they are at rest to minimize the risk of getting stung. "Be careful not to shake or disturb the nest, and make sure to cover nest entrances as well as surrounding areas."

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
September 19, 2020
I rarely leaves remarks but cannot stay quiet here. Bees are at a very high risk and should NEVER be sprayed. They are a marvel and do more than most people know. I am surprised, shocked and disappointed that Martha Would publish an article recommending them to be sprayed and killed. If there is an unwelcome hive in your yard, there are easily accessible agencies online that will gladly come and remove a rogue swarm from your property, free of charge. They relocate them to where the bees will happily Keep someones garden/orchard pollinated. I have a beehive in my garden and BECAUSE of the bees, my little 13 container garden gave me over 200 pounds of tomatoes this summer, along with a multitude of other vegetables and fruit that require pollination to produce. Yes, wasps do bite. And yes, any wasp nests should be carefully removed from walking and eating areas. However, wasps are protein eaters, so they also are beneficial to an organic garden, as they eat many bugs that eat your plants. I worked many hours in my garden and around my yard and trees all summer long and was never, not once, stung by a bee or bitten by wasps. They were around, but busy minding to their work. I sprayed organic mosquito spray on myself to avoid those pests, and we all coexisted just fine. Even our grandchildren understand the ecosystem and necessity of our winged hard workers. PLEASE Martha, educate your readers to save our food system, not further destroy it! Thank you.
Martha Stewart Member
September 19, 2020
Shame on you, Martha, who has you amazing gardens everywhere and pollinators to help you keep your gardens beautiful. How can promote the killing of bees! There are other options to dealing with a swarm on one's property, like calling the local beekeepers association to get a beekeeper to remove and relocate the swarm to a hive where they can continue their amazing and necessary work. Bees only sting when they feel they are in danger, wasps and other such insects can sting repeatedly. So if you see a bee in your yard, just stay clear of her flight path and she will not bother you. She is too busy doing her necessary work. Bees are vital to our ecosystem and are already in severe decline without the help of ill-informed people spraying poison on them and their hives (not nests). Also, if an exterminator sprays poison in areas where bees visit, they will be effected by that poison.