Memorial Day weekend is often referred to as the “unofficial start of summer.”
In addition to the vital remembrances of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, it’s also the start of outdoor gatherings, barbecues, picnics and get-togethers of all sizes, shapes and forms.
As folks spend more time outdoors, the potential to be exposed to ticks, mosquitos and other insects increases.
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And this can pose potential health threats if you are bitten by one of these annoying critters.
Mosquitos can carry illnesses like West Nile disease, while ticks can transmit Lyme disease and babesiosis, among other illnesses, according to health experts.
With the aroma of tasty burgers and hotdogs filling your backyard, unwanted guests such as flies, mosquitos, ticks and other insects may crash your outdoor event.
There are ways, however, to help keep insects away, as pest management experts told Fox News Digital in an interview.
One expert’s favorite trick is to “take a hose, wash down all the shrubbery, all the areas around your deck where the party is going to be — [to] deter flying insects for a couple of hours.”
“My favorite trick,” entomologist James P. McHale of New York told Fox News Digital, “Is to take a hose, wash down all the shrubbery, all the areas around your deck where the party is going to be — and you can sort of deter flying insects for a couple of hours.”
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McHale is the platform president of JP McHale Pest Management LLC, which is located throughout the state of New York, including Long Island; it also has a presence in southwestern Connecticut.
Use low voltage lighting when the party goes into the night, said McHale.
“It’s less attractive to weak flying insects,” he said. He also advised using citronella and lemon eucalyptus candles.
“They interfere with the insects’ olfactory receptors, so it kind of confuses them and deters them in some way,” he said.
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Another trick McHale recommended to combat weaker flying biting insects is to place two or three oscillating fans on your deck in strategic positions.
This can prove effective “if you place them six-to-eight feet above the deck and sort of let them blow below,” he said.
Mounds of mulch can invite annoying pests to your party, so McHale cautioned against using too much mulch in your garden.
He said that when mulch is heaped into big piles, referred to as “mulch donuts,” around trees or plants, it does not fully dry, which could foster fungus formation.
This might attract insects such as clover mites that could be disruptive to an outdoor evening event.
Place two or three oscillating fans on your deck in strategic positions.
Instead, consider using stone or something that drains more appropriately — or go light on the mulch, he said.
“You want things to dry out quickly after precipitation,” he explained.
As you prepare for summer soirées, it’s important to check to clean out your gutters and watch for standing water, which can breed mosquitos.
“Eliminate any standing water — any water that sits in tires, any gutters that are not draining out efficiently,” McHale told Fox News Digital.
If you have a decorative pond in your backyard, it’s vital to have an agitator in it to keep the water stirred up, the insect expert also said.
“When the water becomes still, that’s when mosquito larvae like to fester.”
During the fall, McHale said to use netting over any ponds to capture falling leaves. He said the leaves might elevate the nitrogen content and that encourages more mosquito activity.
Before firing up that grill or firepit for the first time, McHale said to be on the lookout for what may be lurking in that covered outdoor appliance — he said it’s smart to look for wasps especially.
It’s wise to get monthly lawn treatments by pest management companies during the spring through early fall, said one expert.
“They make those little honeycomb hives underneath the barbecue grill, under the pool cover, under the barbecue or the fire pit. Therefore, you have to be very careful,” he warned.
If you do encounter a nest, McHale said call a professional to deal with it to avoid being stung.
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He also suggested that getting monthly lawn treatments by pest management companies during the spring through early fall can be helpful in reducing tick and mosquito activity.
As you get ready to head outdoors to mingle with your guests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
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It’s also wise to use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.