ON SUNRISE: Bug-proof your summer picnic

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Nothing says summer like backyard cookouts or parties on the patio, but all to often our gatherings end up with swats and slaps overwhelming the conversation. So what can we do to prevent bees, mosquitoes and other insects from crashing the party?

Stinging insects sent half a million people to the emergency room every year.

Shane McCoy, an expert with Wil-Kil Pest Control, says you can control uninvited guests by taking proactive steps. He recommends checking your ward and patio area for standing water. Bird baths and wading pools can be a magnet for mosquitoes. The water should be changed regularly, he says.

Use low pressure and sodium vapor lights outdoors, to avoid attracting pests. McCoy says its a good idea to offer insect repellent to guests. Citronella candles and tiki torches can be a big help as well, he says. If guests are going in and out you'll need to make sure doors close quickly and are not left open. Food and drinks should be covered and sealed.

Remember cans and bottles make perfect hiding places for stinging insects, McCoy says they should be sealed whenever possible. Pay attention to the location of your gathering. Wasps are attracted to fragrances, so you should avoid using fragrant candles as party decorations and keep your distance from fragrant flowering plants.

If something spills clean it up right away and bring used dishware and utensils indoors right away.

Finally, McCoy recommends home and yard maintenance. Uncontrolled weeds can be a haven for pests and clogged rain gutters a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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