Uninvited Summer Guests

Get ready for a bug-free summer

BY August Lysy


As soon as the summer sun alights upon our grey, spring gloom, and the sun-soaked breeze drifting through our open windows begins to revive our overcast spirits, certain, uninvited guests also begin to arise from their winter slumber and return from their southern migration to wreak their unwelcomed havoc upon our fun.

No, I don’t mean family (though disagreeable relatives are known to drift in behind the summer warm front!) — I mean insects: flies, ants and mosquitos, the six-legged troublemakers for all fun-in-the-sun-loving, California people. Fortunately, centuries of their bothersome presence have afforded us with some simple, non-toxic solutions for keeping these insects from breaching the barriers of our sunny sanctums. Be they our boudoirs or our BBQ parties.

Aside from being downright abominable, our unwelcomed insect guests also have a super keen sense of smell — some in the range of 100 to 300 feet! Nevertheless, though they are drawn by the scent of food (e.g., us), they are repelled by other scents, most of which people typically find pleasing. For example, basil, mint, lavender, lemon and rosemary are just a few of the plants and herbs that these insects abhor.

Although a few plants repel insects by their mere presence, mostrequire the burning of their essential oil or the combining of their oil into a homemade spray or lotion. Mixing such a concoction is actually a lot easier than it might sound. A quick search online will bring up insect-repellent plants and herbs as well as simple instructions on how to render them into fashionably fragrant, insect repellents.

If concocting potions and resorting to scent-based repellents turn you off as much as insects do, there are other means to the insects’ end. For mosquitos, regularly mowing your lawn, removing standing water, or setting out a dish of soapy water will keep them from turning your yard into a summer hostel. For flies, most commercial and homemade flycatchers rely on scent, but flypaper, sugar-water or an electric light trap are sometimes known to be effective against their encroachment. For ants, make sure your exterior walls are sealed (e.g., silicone caulk), cover any anthills within the vicinity of your home with coffee grounds, or consider laying a barrier of cornmeal across any openings they might be likely to scout.

Despite the effectiveness of these other means of insect deterrence, those which target their sense of smell is still the most effica-cious and economical in terms of time and effort. So, why not make your first gathering to welcome in the summer a repellent-potion party? That’s one party you can be sure no insect would dare crash.

Quick & Non-Toxic Solutions for Ridding Ourselves of. . .

Seal external walls
Cover anthills with coffee grounds
Lay cornmeal across passageways

Hang flypaper Set out a bowl of sugar-water
Purchase an electric fly trap

Mow your lawn regularly
Remove standing water
Put out a dish of soapy water