Top Picnic Foods that Attract Pests
Dining al fresco in the summertime – whether it’s a BBQ dinner on your porch or a picnic with a panoramic view – can easily become a hassle when the pests come to swarm on your feast. There’s no denying that insects and outdoor picnics seem to be a packaged deal, as ants, flies, mosquitoes and other stingers are the most active during the warm summer months.
Nothing will deter an eager appetite faster – or put the kibosh on other fun outdoor activities – than finding critters crawling about in your food and beverages, or having them buzz and bite in your ears and on your skin. And to make matters worse, stinging insects – such as bees and wasps – can be life-threatening to anyone who’s allergic to them. And aside from being annoying, biting mosquitoes can potentially transfer diseases.
Thankfully, you can reduce these unwanted encounters and keep pests away from your edibles on your next picnic or outdoor meal. Here is a list of the top picnic foods that attract pests and ways to keep them away.
1.)Sugary and fermented beverages (aka soda, juice, beer and wine): Bees, wasps, flies and ants are just a few species of creepy-crawlies that flock to anything with sugar – and even fermenting sugar – it’s not uncommon to find them buzzing around or even drowning inside of cups, open cans or bottles. You can thwart these unwanted surprises by making sure beverages are always covered (either with a makeshift plastic wrap or foil covering, or with the actual lids or caps), and sipping with straws. Cans and bottles also make good hiding spots for insects, so you might want to consider pouring drinks into plastic cups as well.
2.)Fresh and ripe fruit: Your bounty pile of fresh fruits and vegetables can easily bring an equivalent bounty of pests like flies, fruit flies and stinging insects – especially ripening fruit, which undergoes a slight fermentation process. Keeping these covered in a wire-mesh (or plastic) colander, a domed food cover or packed away in a cooler can act as a mini-fortress against fruit-and-vegetable-loving critters, or you may want to consider keeping these take-alongs to a minimum. On the upside, keeping garlic and onions on hand are known to be naturally repellent to some insects.
3.)Desserts, candy and other sticky sweets: Aside from running the risk of melting or spoiling under the sun, sticky and sugary foods – as previously mentioned – are a practical bulls-eye for invading bugs, which are persistent in pursuing them. Keep dessert or sugar-based foods at home, or keep them sealed away in coolers and containers until everyone is ready to enjoy them. You might also want to consider bringing easy portable sweets on hand – such as cookies or brownies, as opposed to ice cream, pudding or cakes – that are easy to eat and less likely to go bad in the heat.
4.)Burgers, hot dogs and other BBQ favorites: Your family and friends won’t be the only ones enjoying the scent of marinade and meat sizzling on the grill, as they are also known to be crowd-pleasers to critters as well. Insects such as wasps and other stingers are known to have a penchant for hamburgers and hot dogs, and even pick up and flock to other strong smells such as grilling fish. You’ll want to check off of your “to-buy” list aforementioned items such as food tents and dome-shaped platter coverings – as well as keep a citronella candle burning nearby – before producing platters or BBQ favorites.
5.) Other important outdoor dining tips :
- Don’t leave out food in hot weather, 90°F or higher for more than an hour. Be sure to toss out any perishables that exceeds that time limit.
- Invest in a good quality cooler. This is especially true for perishables – you’ll want to get the ones with tight gasket seals on the lids and for larger containers, a spigot for draining any excess melting ice and water.
- Avoid eating and keeping food in areas that are near standing water, especially after a rainfall. Lakes, ponds, puddles and even standing fountains are active breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other bugs.
- Raise your eating area. Choosing the right setup can go a long way – and it’s often best to keep your food up and away from ground moisture and long grassy areas where bugs can hide- such as on a picnic table.
- Portable fans also help keep bugs at bay from the food area. A blowing fan will make it difficult for bugs to fly in and start swarming and pester, aside from the added bonus of keeping everyone cool.
- Tote along candles. Aside from their ambiance, their affordability and their pleasant scent – citronella candles and tiki torches are an easy way to deter insects from crashing your venue. Zappers and lights also serve to distract insects and keep them away from you and your food.
- Bring along a bug spray. These help repel mosquitoes and other flying critters, even ticks. You’ll also want to avoid slathering on scented perfumes and lotions, which are also attractive to stinging critters and pesky ants.