Keeping bugs off your restaurant patio

Patio season is around the corner as Victoria Day approaches, and there is nothing more annoying for guests than an evening on the patio, full of swatting away mosquitoes and wasps. While you can’t eradicate the bugs completely, there are steps you can take to give your guests a (nearly) bug-free experience.

RELATED: Planning ahead for patio season

Proactive planting

Make your patio pretty and discourage bugs at the same time with strategically chosen natural décor. There are several types of flowers that deter pests like lavender, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and more. These flowers look pretty, smell nice, and act to discourage unwanted patio pests.

You might also choose to go with an herb garden. Including plants like mint, basil, and lemongrass can pull double duty – providing ingredients for the kitchen while keeping wasps and flies away from your guests. If you just want the effects without the garden, essential oil versions of these scents can work just as well to keep bugs away.

Lighting the way

Citronella makes a great deterrent, as long as the smell isn’t too strong to take away from the dining experience. Add tiki torches to the décor and light candles on the tables to create ambiance and keep mosquitoes away. UV lights hold the strongest attraction for bugs, so you might consider adding them to places that draw them away from your patio and don’t affect your guest experience.

Clear the air

Wind is another way that you can get pests to move on, and while you don’t want it to be too strong for diners, fans are something that can deter wasps and mosquitoes, while providing a breeze for your guests. This can be one way to limit the presence of flying insects on your patio, especially during the hotter months.

Clean up

Stay vigilant in cleaning up plates and cutlery once your gusts shave finished and wipe down tables as soon as you can. Spills happen, but if they aren’t cleaned up quickly, ants could be attracted to the area.  Ensure that your staff is diligent in cleaning up any food and beverages that may interest insects before an infestation can occur. Ants don’t like the smell of lavender or peppermint, so including those in your décor or ambiance can help keep ants off your patio.  Pressure washing your patio nightly can also help keep crumbs and spills from attracting insects, as well as hosing down your garbage cans and

Preventative measures

Taking steps to deter bugs before they even arrive is a great way to get ahead. Seal any cracks in the walls, assess pergolas and shelters, cut back any close foliage, and take care of existing nests before patio season starts. Similarly, check regularly in the surrounding mulch and foliage for nests or infestations that may migrate to your patio. Remove any standing water that might draw insects to the area, like birdbaths or water features. Mosquitoes only need a thimble-worth of water to breed, so keep everything clean and dry to avoid drawing them near.

As well, make sure that your garbage bins are located away from the patio and are kept closed so bugs are not drawn to the area.

With patio season on the horizon, delivering exceptional guest experiences is a top priority and the presence of insects can frustrate guests, lead to negative reviews, and discourage repeat visits. Plan ahead and take the steps necessary to elevate the outdoor dining experience for your guests and keep the bugs away.