Outdoor entertaining has many advantages. Cooking on a grill can make it easier to feed a crowd, while fresh air can make any occasion more fun.

One pesky obstacle when entertaining outdoors is bugs. Nothing can ruin outdoor meals quite like insects. Finding a gnat in your soft drink or ants coursing over your hot dog can quickly destroy your appetite.

It’s challenging but not impossible to deter insects from outdoor entertaining areas. Here are some ways to do just that:

• Invest in shower caps. Yes, those plastic caps that can be purchased at the pharmacy or even acquired free at your next hotel stay can serve as inexpensive food covers.

The elastic band holds them securely in place, and they can fit around everything from salad bowls to watermelon.

• Make a wasp repellent. Work with nature by finding those things in nature that the offensive insect fears.

In the case of wasps, it can be even larger stinging insects like hornets. Try filling a brown paper lunch bag with plastic bags and hang it near sitting and eating areas.

The wasps may think the filled sack is a hornet’s nest, keeping them away.

• Rely on citrus. Surround entertaining areas with orange and lemon peels. The smells of the citrus oils will naturally repel certain insects.

Mint is another aroma and flavor that insects tend to avoid. Spray mouthwash around eating areas as well.

• Disperse smells. Use fans to break up those appealing aromas from people and the food. Flying insects will be less likely to investigate.

• Use dryer sheets for more than just static cling. Dryer sheets can be placed under table legs or rubbed on clothing.

The chemicals in them repel ants and mosquitoes, according to the Untrained Housewife, a lifestyle resource.

• Drain stagnant water. One way to minimize insects is to keep them from taking up residence in the yard. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. When they fill with water, empty flower pots, kiddie pools, overturned garden items, and bird baths.

• Keep fresh basil on hand. Top that salad with some basil, or tuck a few sprigs on the picnic table. Basil may naturally repel flies and mosquitos.

A few simple strategies can make it possible to enjoy foods and beverages outdoors with few insect invaders.

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