How to keep pesky bugs away this holiday season

Avoid the incessant buzzing of blowflies. Picture: UNSPLASH

It is hard to beat a day with friends and family in summer.

Unfortunately, insects enjoy it just as much with the emergence of flies, mosquitoes and wasps often making it a bit more difficult to enjoy a spot of relaxation or recreation.

Here are some of the top tips for keeping away the annoying buzzers, blood-suckers and stingers:


* Install or maintain fly screens on windows, doors, vents and chimneys;

* Use insect sprays and repellents both inside and outside the house to kill mosquitoes – Use ‘knockdown’ fly spray against visible mosquitoes in your home, plug-in mosquito “zappers” or vaporisers in enclosed verandahs, mosquito coils in outdoor areas. These should be supervised at all times and insect repellant should be considered for use alongside. If the problem persists, a long-acting surface spray should be used in areas where mosquitoes like to rest. Shaded areas around bushes and shrubs should be sprayed, but avoid doing so near fish ponds;

* Remove stagnant water that provides a breeding ground as well as prevent things from filling with water, including tyres, buckets and holes;

* Change pet drinking bowls, bird baths and vase waters at least once a week; and

* Check and maintain rainwater tanks and water storage vessels.


* Keep homes and patios clean – This is especially important after a gathering or barbecue where any dropped food or spilled drinks attract flies to feed. Properly seal rubbish bags and the rubbish bin;

* Lighting – Lights, especially white bulb lights, tend to act as mosquito and fly magnets. Dim lamps, especially outdoors and try using yellow bulbs or replace them with yellow or sodium vapour lights if possible. Turn off lights overnight; and

* Repellent – Spray mixes can be made from a number of mixtures including hydrogen peroxide, vodka, mouthwash, anise oil, essential oils or lemongrass oil, herbs such as peppermint, lemon balm, citronella grass, basil, thyme, catnip, rosemary, marigolds, lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree are effective, sugar-water or milk, sugar and pepper traps can be set and other methods include clove and lemon decorative repellent, natural apple cider skin repellent, burning citronella candles or using a fan.


* Food is the key motivator for wasps in where they decide to hang around, with queen wasps often hibernating in the cracks and crevices of homes during the colder months before merging in search of food come summer. In the warmer months of spring and summer, wasps seek out protein-based foods like scraps of meat so be sure to remove any leftovers and pieces of meat that might attract a wasp.

If you have a deck that has been or may be an ideal nesting place for wasps, safely conducting a sweep is a good idea. When looking for a wasp nest, wear heavy clothing and gloves to ensure your skin is fully covered and never approach a wasp’s nest during the day, as they are most aggressive during this time. Cover a flashlight with red cellophane taped over the light to see the nest at night as wasps can’t see the red light; and

* Tips for keeping wasps away from outdoors areas and particularly pools include buying or making decoy nests, growing natural wasp repellants like eucalyptus, spearmint, thyme citronella and wormwood, spray peppermint oil or clove mixed with geranium and lemongrass and try attracting them elsewhere with a few small strips of raw meat strung up or place some tins/cans of diesel.