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porch wicker furniture swing

Have bees and wasps invaded your front porch in the past? These tips can help you reclaim that lovely space for yourself this year.

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I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out to the front porch, eager to sit down in my rocking chair and watch the sun go down, maybe with a tall glass of iced tea in hand — and the moment I approach the chair, I hear that tell-tale buzzing noise. A few moments after that, I am having a staring match with a yellowjacket, wasp or something even more sinister, a tiny creature determined that my porch is actually his porch, thank you very much, and I can try to enjoy it at my peril.

The usual things

I considered the usual things — bug spray, bug traps, anything that might give me some peace. I quickly learned that citronella candles worked like a charm to keep the mosquitoes away, so that became a standard. But what about those things that can sting? Bug spray worries me because I hate dealing with harsh chemicals. Bug traps bother me because they often trap beneficial bugs for the garden, and besides that, I’m the type of person who will put a spider outside before I will kill it.

With some trial and error, I found a few ways to keep bugs off the porch and reclaim that space for myself.

Make adjustments to the landscaping

One of the first changes I made was to move the flowers and plants that they seemed to love most to another area. My garden is in the backyard, and they can enjoy that all they like — it’s the front porch I want to myself.

I relocated all the flowering plants that drew the insects to the front yard and replanted them around the side of the house and near the garage. I then planted Hostas in their place, because I love the look of the wide leaves, and because the bees and wasps didn’t seem to notice them at all. I almost immediately saw a huge drop in the number of stinging insects on the porch.

Invest in outdoor fans

Have you ever noticed that bugs hate to fly around in a strong breeze? In fact, the only times I had been able to truly enjoy the porch came when the winds were high and leaves were flying everywhere. I considered ceiling fans to keep the air moving, but didn’t want to deal with the regular maintenance and the way they might clash with the look of the skylights in the porch roof.

Instead, I chose a small, antique-style oscillating fan that looked lovely on small outdoor table. The breeze generated was just enough to make the bees think twice about going for my iced tea.

Create a screened-In Porch

When all else fails, screening in the porch works wonders. This can be done very simply in the span of a weekend, and works well for smaller porches. Many homeowners will simply use heavy-duty staples to attach sturdy, rigid screens to the top and bottom of the porch, and cover the ends with nice wood trim.

Adding a door is a bit tougher, but can certainly be done. Those who don’t want to do anything so permanent can try mosquito netting, or small screened rooms that can fit right on the porch and give you some freedom from the potential stings.

screened in porch with outdoor furniture

When creating a screened-in porch, remember the floor. Many a homeowner has created a DIY screened porch, only to find a dozen bees or wasps inside it. How did they get in? From between the floorboards! Any porch that has space between the floorboards can be invaded by bees. Avoid this problem by crawling under the porch and installing a sheet of rigid screen right up against the wood.

Find the nests of the worst pests

At one point we realized that the influx of huge wasps had little to do with what was on the porch and everything to do with where the nest was. If there is a nest of stinging insects near your home, nothing in the world will cut down on the number of them that come to visit you on the porch.

So we set out in search of where they might be coming from, and soon stumbled upon one of the numerous fallen trees in the forest around our home. This particular tree was buzzing so hard it was practically shaking. We backed off quickly (which meant we went running as hard as we could) and called a pest control company to help. Though we didn’t like the idea of killing off the wasps, we knew that it was just a matter of time before we had a swarm — and that meant our porch problem would move from annoyance to real danger in a flash. Not a good thing!

All of these options helped us figure out how to enjoy our front porch during the hottest of summer days, when those flying stingers are out in force. Now if only we could figure out how to keep the squirrels out of the birdseed…

An important note about the bees

Honey bees are in grave danger right now, thanks to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. So if you happen to find a nest of these sweet bees on your property, immediately call the pest control guys and make it clear that you want them captured and relocated, not destroyed! Mother Nature will thank you.

 

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.