5 Ways to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

A little pre-barbecue prep work will keep insects from bugging you.

  • Eliminate the conditions in which bugs breed by draining any containers with standing water, such as flowerpot saucers, roof gutters, and birdbaths.
  • Encircle your patio or deck with citronella candles or incense sticks so the smoke and fragrance that the bugs hate will always waft toward you.
  • An alternative: Plug in some fans. Mosquitoes are weak flyers, so even a fan set on low will create enough airflow to keep them away. This works best in a small area, like a deck, where you can set up two or three box fans around your guests. It’s also a good idea to put a tabletop fan near the food.
  • Apply a bug repellent. For those containing DEET, choose 10 percent to 35 percent. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET be applied to children no more than once a day, and does not recommending using it at all on infants under the age of 2 months.) If you prefer to go DEET-free, natural bug repellents can be quite effective (one to try is Coleman Botanicals Insect Repellent, $7.50; rei.com).
  • Stay calm. Swatting at mosquitoes attracts them, since they're drawn to motion.