Bug Off: Field-Tested Ways to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Four Southern event designers share their secrets for battling bugs

Here in the South, the joy of entertaining guests outdoors can be undermined when less-welcome ones arrive—mosquitoes and other pests. We asked some of the South’s best event designers, who produce weddings and other soirees outside all summer long, how they battle bugs. From organic sprays and wipes to a mail-order mosquito magnet, these are their tried-and-true tricks of the trade.

Event Designer: Maria Baer
Firm: Ritzy Bee Events
Home Base: Washington, D.C.

Bug-Beating Strategy: “Fans are a must under tents to keep the air stirring—they should run starting a few hours before the event starts. The morning of an outside event we have a non-toxic and environmentally friendly garlic-based bug spray fog administered around the entire area where events will take place. And right before guests arrive, we spray the legs of chairs with a bug repellent to keep the immediate area free of gnats and mosquitos.”

Favorite products: Mosquito Barrier and Badger Balm Spray

Event Designer: Calder Clark
Firm: Calder Clark Designs
Home Base: Charleston, South Carolina

Bug-Beating Strategy: “One of our favorite stealthy ways to ward off unwanted flying ‘friends’ is simple. We weave either lovely green citronella plants or blooming geranium into the floral arrangements and displays. Overflowing urns of these botanicals can line ceremony aisles and flank tent entrances. Gorgeous, anti-bug greenery is a pretty way to keep guests in comfort. We also love La Fresh wipes on wooden serving trays for easy grab-and-go as guests approach a ceremony or reception. ”

Favorite product: La Fresh Insect Repellent Wipes

Event Designer: Hollis Starks
Firm: Hollis Starks and Company
Home Base: Louisville, Kentucky

Bug-Beating Strategy: “I always come to events armed with citronella candles and Orange Guard. Orange Guard is water based and smells great, so it’s fine to spray underneath tables if critters make an unwelcome appearance.”

Favorite product: Orange Guard

Event Designer: Tara Guerard
Firm: Tara Guerard Soiree
Home Base: Charleston, South Carolina

Bug-Beating Strategy: “I think the Mosquito Magnets are the best! But you cannot let the propane run out (one tank lasts 21 days) because the machine needs to run continuously for six weeks to be effective. They take care of mosquitoes and no-see-ums and have saved my life, especially in the Lowcountry.”

Favorite product: Mosquito Magnet