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Are you ready to host a cookout but worried that you’ll have a problem with mosquito infestations? Rest assured – we have some time-tested tactics to ensure that your backyard cookout can be enjoyed by all without worrying about uninvited biting guests. From proper meal planning to the use of essential oils and citronella candles, here are a few tips for reducing your mosquito population at the next cookout.

1. Schedule your Cookout for the Right Time

Mosquitoes thrive in warm and humid climates, especially around dusk and dawn. To reduce the risk of attracting mosquitoes, it’s best to schedule your cookout during the hottest and driest parts of the day.

Choose the Right Location

When planning your cookout, remember to choose a location that is away from standing water, such as small bodies of water, puddles, bird baths, and rain barrels. The stagnant water provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes, so be sure to choose a spot that is at least a couple of hundred feet away from any sources of standing water.

Proper Meal Planning

Once you’ve chosen the perfect cookout spot and the ideal time, you need to think about the food and drinks that you plan to serve. If possible, try to keep all food and drinks covered when you’re not eating them. Unsealed food and liquids will be an easy target for mosquitoes.

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2. Natural Insect Repellents

In addition to proper food storage, you can also employ natural insect repellents to keep the mosquitoes away. Some common natural bug repellents are citronella, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oils. These oils can be applied directly onto your skin or even added to tea light candles to provide each guest with a bug-free zone around their plate.

Essential Oils

Essential oils offer a non-chemical bug repelling option as they contain natural compounds that repel mosquitoes. Citronella oil, for example, is a popular essential oil for repelling mosquitoes, as mosquitoes are not attracted to the scent of the oil. Other essential oils such as eucalyptus and lavender can also be used to create an area with no mosquitoes.

Citronella Candles

Citronella candles are a great choice for an outdoor cookout, as they can provide protection against mosquitoes while also creating a cozy atmosphere. The candles emit a strong, sweet smell that wards off insects, while also providing a pleasant scent to your patio or backyard.

3. Protection from Bites

When you’re hosting a cookout, it’s important to make sure that your guests have the necessary bug protection so they can relax and enjoy the festivities. Long-sleeves and long pants are ideal for keeping mosquitoes away, while also protecting their skin from the sun’s rays. In addition, guests can also apply a safe, non-toxic insect repellent to their skin to provide an extra layer of protection from biting insects.

Treat Clothing with Permethrin

For an extra layer of bugproofing, treat your clothing with a pesticide called permethrin. Typically used to treat outdoor clothing, permethrin is a synthetic form of a natural insect repellent called pyrethrin, which is found in flowers like the chrysanthemum.

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Long-Sleeved Shirts and Pants

When hosting an outdoor event, it’s important to remind guests to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. This will help keep mosquitoes away and can also reduce the chances of being bitten by ticks or other biting insects.

4. Use Mosquito-Repelling Plants

Another method of keeping mosquitoes away from your cookout is by planting mosquito-repelling plants around the area. These plants have strong odors that mosquitoes dislike, making them a perfect natural barrier to unwanted pests. Some of the best mosquito-repelling plants include marigolds, lavender, basil, and lemon thyme.


Marigolds are a popular choice for keeping pests away as they have a strong aroma that mosquitoes don’t like. Planting marigolds near your patio or even inside pots and containers can help keep the mosquitoes away from your cookout.


Lavender is another type of plant that has a strong, distinct scent that deters mosquitoes. Plant some lavender near the patio or even inside a pot to provide a bug-free zone for your guests.

5. Clean and Clear

Finally, keep your backyard tidy and free of clutter to create an environment where mosquitoes cannot hide or breed. Make sure there are no standing puddles or areas of stagnant water, and keep outdoor furniture, toys, and other items away from areas where mosquitoes might congregate.

Remove Dead Leaves and Debris

Before your cookout, make sure to clear away any dead leaves and debris as this can provide harborage areas for mosquitoes. Remove any standing puddles or other sources of standing water, and remove any leaves that have built up in gutters and drains.

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Empty Pools and Birdbaths

If you have pools, birdbaths, or other areas of standing water, be sure to empty them before your guest arrive. This will ensure that no mosquitoes can use them as breeding grounds.


With a little planning and ingenuity, you can ensure that your cookout is free of mosquitoes. From proper meal planning to the use of essential oils and citronella candles, there are plenty of natural and successful methods for keeping mosquito populations at bay. And with the right preparation, you and your guests can enjoy the warm weather and the festivities without worrying about pesky uninvited guests.