No matter how good you are at hosting backyard get-togethers, let’s face it: bugs have a

way of really bringing down a party. All it takes is a few persistent mosquitoes, flies or bees … and your guests will spend all their time swatting and slapping, rather than enjoying the company.

There’s the discomfort factor of bites, itches and stings. And then there are health risks in the form of West Nile Virus (from mosquitoes), allergic reactions (from bees and wasps) and Lyme Disease (from ticks). You can bomb your living space with DEET or other chemical bug repellants. Or, you can try the following natural ways to avoid the misery of Mother Nature’s winged party crashers.

  • Avoid wearing fragrances (including scented soaps and deodorants) that attract mosquitoes, bees and other pests.
  • Don’t wear bright colors for the same reason.
  • Use citronella candles to discourage flying insects when entertaining on the patio or in the yard.
  • Discourage ants from invading your outdoor picnic food by surrounding it with a border of mint leaves or orange peel; be sure to seal food containers tightly when they’re not in use; and try not to drop crumbs.
  • Keep grass in your yard trimmed to discourage ticks. Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily before they have a chance to become embedded in the skin. If you do find a tick, lift it off your skin or clothing with a small tweezer. Be sure to lift it directly up; don’t crush it or squeeze it.
  • If you have pets, they tend to carry hitchhiking fleas indoors even if you protect the pet with a flea collar. So vacuum daily and put an extra flea collar in the vacuum bag to prevent any captured critters from surviving and reproducing. Empty the bag frequently.
  • Don’t leave sweet or sticky food out in the open where it can attract bees and wasps. Open cans are especially hazardous because you won’t see any that crawl inside.
  • In some areas, Africanized bees are a concern. These are highly aggressive and will attack quickly in great swarms if they detect a threat in the area of their hive. Be alert for buzzing or increased bee activity in any area. Be especially vigilant if you have children running and playing outdoors, even in large open areas (some hives are in the ground).

Do you have a tip for keeping pesky bugs away naturally?