Outdoor dining definitely has its benefits. You could watch a spectacular sunset, relax on some quality patio furniture, or simply enjoy the general ambiance of the evening. Crickets chirping can set a pleasant, quaint atmosphere for your meal, and a gentle breeze could be just what you need to unwind.

This scene is perfect, aside from the mosquitoes biting you, and those flies buzzing around your food. The ants crawling across your patio table and the gnats swarming your fruit bowl aren’t helping either.

To achieve the perfect outdoor dining experience, you must find a way to eat and not be eaten. Here are a few pointers on what you can do to enjoy your picture-perfect picnic, or barbecue, without the bugs.

Preparation before the Event
Although it may seem like more work, you’ll thank yourself later if you take the time to thoroughly prepare the outdoor area for dining use.

Remove Standing Water
Standing water is the perfect environment for mosquitoes to breed. In fact, mosquitoes can’t complete their life cycle without it.

The eggs float on the surface and a newly hatched adult rests on the surface of the water to properly harden its wings.

To keep mosquitoes away from your home, remove any garbage bins, puddles, bird baths, eaves and gutters, where water can collect. Dispose of any leaves, twigs, or debris that block gutters and drains from properly flowing.

Give Bugs Their Space
Gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and ants live outdoors. If you’re planning an outdoor meal, then you’re essentially eating on their turf.

Before hosting an event, be on the lookout for any anthillswasp nests, and spider webs that indicate bugs live nearby. Give these areas plenty of room, or if necessary, call your local pest removal company to eliminate insect infestations on your property.

Also, keep your lawn neat and tidy. This helps to deter insects and other pests from hiding in your grass.

Use Repellent Products
Despite vigilant efforts to keep the yard tidy and clean, even thorough gardeners have to deal with bugs from time to time. If you’re planning on eating outdoors, apply bug spray to minimize insect bites. Look for sprays that use N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, more commonly known as DEET. This key ingredient safely repels insects when used appropriately.

In addition, feel free to light a few pest-repellent candles. Citronella candles deter common pests while providing an elegant way to illuminate your meal.

If insects are particularly bothersome, wear insect shield clothing and outdoor blankets. Although somewhat pricey, these are often worth the investment when you want extra protection against pests.

Looking for a more affordable option? Try a rotating fan. Mosquitoes aren’t active when wind gusts exceed 10 miles per hour. If you set the fan on high, it should blow many of the bugs away.

Keep Bugs Away During Your Event
During your meal, keep food exposure to a minimum. Store untouched food in Tupperware, and quickly dispose of discarded food in tightly closed garbage bin. If possible, take food and drinks indoors as soon as you’re finished serving your guests. This will prevent ants and other unfriendly critters from feeling like they’re invited to partake.

Also, certain foods and scents naturally repel bugs. Rub a slice of onion, fresh orange, or lemon peel over exposed skin or on your picnic table. Discourage guests from wearing heavy perfumes or scents that will attract bugs.

After-Party Cleanup Practices
Make sure garbage is securely packed into tight bags and that your dumpster lid is heavy enough to deter any unwanted investigators. For extra protection, consider spraying bug repellent on your trash can. If trash can pests are problematic, consider bleaching or washing the trash can in ammonia because many pests dislike the smell.

Try to avoid throwing away large amounts of liquid in your garbage bins. Heavy liquid will cause the trash bag to tear or burst, leaking out sweet treats for bugs to consume. Instead, dump liquids down a drain before throwing away the cup.

On that note, be especially careful with dumping liquids down drains. Make sure the liquids are draining properly rather than collecting in a puddle. If necessary, hose the area to rinse away any leftover residue.

When to Call Pest Control
Don’t let the bugs ruin your taste for the outdoors. You can have plenty of fun as long as you take the necessary preventative measures. These tips should help you get started.

If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call your local pest control company to take care of the issue. Depending on your home and its surrounding plant life, infestations are sometimes difficult to prevent without professional help.

Many sprays and treatments are environmentally safe and make your property safe to use within a short amount of time. With the right tools, your pest control technician can ensure your backyard stays mostly pest free, so you can enjoy your next barbecue without the uninvited guests.