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Debugging Your Outdoor Gatherings

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Family gatherings have taken on a new look! If you are getting together with a group of loved ones, the CDC recommends keeping it small and outdoors.  With holidays just around the corner, many Arizonans will find the temperate weather makes it easy to accomplish that. But you may find more than good times when you’re outside. You may find lots of unwanted pests still gathering too.

Whether you’re actually eating outdoors or inside with the windows open, you could encounter ants, cockroaches or even rats and mice. Here are some tips for staying healthy as well as bug-free:


  • Fill openings. If you’re going to have windows or doors open, make sure they are screened. Inspect and repair anything that creates a possible entry point like torn window screens or loose weather-stripping. If you find open spaces near pipes or vents, use caulk to fill small cracks or steel wool for larger gaps.
  • Cleanliness is key. Part of what gives bugs a bum rap is that they gravitate toward messes. Keeping your home clean is the best way to keep pests away, especially the kitchen where crumbs and other potential treats lurk. Vacuum regularly (once a week is suggested). And on days you don’t feel like tossing the trash, make sure your bins are covered or even sealed.
  • Put food away immediately. Make your home as inhospitable as possible: when you put the snacks away, the party is over. Pests are no different — they came to grub, so keep food in sealed containers or in the refrigerator. Fresh fruits might make a nice table centerpiece, but bugs, especially fruit flies, can gravitate to them.  Also, don’t forget to clean those pet bowls.
  • Get the wet out. Water is doubly dangerous for encouraging pests. Wet areas serve as both breeding ground and drinking fountain. A sink filled with dirty dishes and standing water is an obvious culprit, but look in less obvious spots, as well. Pipes beneath the sink or in the bathroom can be leaky.  If they are, repair them. Places like basements and attics can be damp. If you find excessive moisture in these areas, consider a dehumidifier.


  • Refresh lighting. Replace white outdoor bulbs with yellow or sodium vapor lights. The orange or yellowish glow may not attract as many insects. Also, light citronella torches or candles to keep away flies and mosquitoes – or use both for double protection!
  • Keep the patio clean. This means sweep up crumbs and wipe up spilled liquids immediately when dining on the patio. Even the smallest morsel or sticky substance can attract ants or other insects. Also, keep food that is outside covered while entertaining – and bring it in as soon as the last guest leaves.
  • Eliminate standing water. Standing water is the enemy in your battle against bugs, as it’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Make sure your gutters are unclogged and that any sunken areas in your yard are filled in so that water can’t collect. Even the water in the birdbath should be regularly changed to prevent those little critters from multiplying.
  • Move your can! Garbage can provide a breeding ground for flies, and ants love to feast on the sticky residue left on your recyclables. Make sure all your trash and recycling cans stay covered, and move them away from your yard’s prime entertaining spots.
  • Shake it out. You should store firewood 20 feet away from your house, elevated one foot off the ground and under a covered shelter if possible. Inspect wood for spiders, termites or other insects before bringing it indoors to a fireplace. Thoroughly check live Christmas trees by shaking them out outside before they ever make it in the house.

Make this a safe and healthy holiday season! Eat outdoors when possible to slow the virus spread and enjoy the fresh Arizona air.

If you see unwelcome insects inside or outside your home or business, call a pest control professional.

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