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Friday, September 29, 2023

Memorial Day parties and remembrances: How to keep the pests away for real

Memorial Day weekend is often referred to as the “unofficial start of summer.” 

In addition to the vital remembrances of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, it’s also the start of outdoor gatherings, barbecues, picnics and get-togethers of all sizes, shapes and forms. 

As folks spend more time outdoors, the potential to be exposed to ticks, mosquitos and other insects increases.


There are ways, however, to help keep insects away, as pest management experts told Fox News Digital in an interview.  

One expert’s favorite trick is to “take a hose, wash down all the shrubbery, all the areas around your deck where the party is going to be — [to] deter flying insects for a couple of hours.” 

McHale is the platform president of JP McHale Pest Management LLC, which is located throughout the state of New York, including Long Island; it also has a presence in southwestern Connecticut.

West Nile Virus

Mosquitos can carry illnesses like West Nile disease, while ticks can transmit Lyme disease and babesiosis, among other illnesses, according to health experts. (iStock)

Use low voltage lighting when the party goes into the night, said McHale. 

“It’s less attractive to weak flying insects,” he said. He also advised using citronella and lemon eucalyptus candles. 

This can prove effective “if you place them six-to-eight feet above the deck and sort of let them blow below,” he said.

hamburgers on barbecue outside

Before firing up a grill or firepit for the first time, one pest management expert advised being on the lookout for what may be lurking in covered outdoor appliances — look for wasps especially, he said. (iStock)

Mounds of mulch can invite annoying pests to your party, so McHale cautioned against using too much mulch in your garden. 

He said that when mulch is heaped into big piles, referred to as “mulch donuts,” around trees or plants, it does not fully dry, which could foster fungus formation. 

Instead, consider using stone or something that drains more appropriately — or go light on the mulch, he said.

“You want things to dry out quickly after precipitation,” he explained. 

“When the water becomes still, that’s when mosquito larvae like to fester.” 

During the fall, McHale said to use netting over any ponds to capture falling leaves. He said the leaves might elevate the nitrogen content and that encourages more mosquito activity.

Before firing up that grill or firepit for the first time, McHale said to be on the lookout for what may be lurking in that covered outdoor appliance — he said it’s smart to look for wasps especially. 

“They make those little honeycomb hives underneath the barbecue grill, under the pool cover, under the barbecue or the fire pit. Therefore, you have to be very careful,” he warned. 

If you do encounter a nest, McHale said call a professional to deal with it to avoid being stung. 


It’s also wise to use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. 

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