By Grace Miazga
All smiles with lemonade glasses raised high, and the kids laughing as they bite into an oversized slice of watermelon. You’re expecting something that would be seen on a magazine cover. Sunny without a cloud in the sky, a light breeze to wick away any hint of moisture on your skin, perfect weather to set up the perfect picnic with your perfect family, until that flurry of insects festers your food. As you swat bugs relentlessly away from your outdoor cuisine and every tiny human being made up of your modern-day tribe, it’s easy to think “even the slightest glimmer of having a Summer Picnic of Perfection is a half-baked idea”. But fear not, moms. There are some tricks one can use to ward off a bug infestation, better yet, they involve food.
We should all know now, either through experience or common sense, that anything sugary is a bug’s theme park. This includes sugary drinks, sugary treats, and fruits, fruits, fruits. But what is a picnic without all of the above. However, there is a surprising technique using said sugary fruits to ward off bugs. Peelings of citrusy fruits casts off a bitter aroma insects like to avoid. So, the day before your picnic, or even hours before, save the peelings of oranges, grapefruits, etc eaten with breakfast or while making a pitcher of lemonade, and take them with to your picnic. Scatter them harmoniously around the site, just as long as you remember to pick them up before you leave.
Vinegar is a product seen being used from generations back. It is one of the most versatile ingredients to have in any household. When it comes to picnics, it’s a serious bug repellent. Fill a water bottle with 3 parts warm water and one part vinegar and shake. Use this concoction to wipe down plastic tablecloths, spray directly onto bugs, or even use as an organic bug spray. It’s quick, simple, and nontoxic…what more could you ask for?
Lastly, your everyday diet can play a huge part in your ability to naturally fend off bugs. There’s a variety of foods you can incorporate into your meals holding certain nutritional biochemical properties that either emit smells off your skin that bugs can’t stand, or mask our humanly odors. Here’s a list of a few: garlic, lemongrass, grapefruit, chiles, vegemite, bananas, onions, beans/lentils, tomatoes, and apple cider vinegar.
As for backup plans and additional precautions, there are many non-food related tips and tricks:
- Avoid perfumes or strong smelling shampoos
- Wear lighter hued clothing, nothing bright or dark colored
- Avoid getting too close to wetlands or lakes, it’s an insect breeding ground
- Decorate your picnic area with marigolds
- Of course, use lids for all containers and bowls occupying food
So here’s to avoiding spilt drinks, food being flung, and the melodramatic symphony of children screaming from a boisterous tornado of mosquitoes, gnats, bees, and everything else. Cheers, moms! Add a little something extra to that lemonade and lay back and relax the day away with one less thing to worry about.