Patio Pests: Is Your Outdoor Dining Area at Risk?


Spring is in the air, which means patio season is about to commence for many restaurants and country clubs in the Metro New York area. by Hope Bowman

Patio season means increased dining space – and hopefully diners, but without the right precautions, patios can also increase exposure to unwanted pests.

Outside, there are fewer barriers to block out pests, which means easier access to the food and water sources pests are attracted to. A few dropped crumbs and a spilled soda are the perfect meal for a number of pests. And, once they are drawn to your patio, there is a greater chance they’ll be drawn inside your establishment, too.

Diners may be a little more forgiving of a pest sighting outdoors, but it can still spoil a meal or cause them to think twice about returning. Plus, pests present a food safety and health risk no matter if they are inside or outside – even more reason to keep them away.

Here is a snap shot of the most common patio pests and the proactive steps you can take to help keep them away from your outdoor dining area.


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There’s nothing worse than a fly landing on your food. House flies are capable of carrying over 100 different pathogens including typhoid, salmonella and tuberculosis. Each time they land on a surface, flies deposit feces. Help prevent fly activity on your patio, using these tactics:

  • Cover trash cans with tightly sealed lids to contain odors.
  • Empty trash cans regularly and ensure trash is sealed in plastic bags and tied tightly before disposal.
  • Clear plates as quickly as possible.
  • Wipe down tables and chairs in between customers to keep crumbs to a minimum.
  • Replace any fluorescent lights outside with sodium vapor bulbs. Flies are less attracted to sodium vapor lights.

Stinging Pests

The mere sight of a bee or wasp is enough to send some people running – and for good reason. Though most stings results in only mild discomfort, some cause severe allergic reactions. Use the following methods to help keep stinging pests away from diners:

  • Avoid planting brightly colored or fragrant flowers and trees near the patio.
  • Choose umbrellas, awnings or outdoor décor with dark or neutral colors to further discourage stinging pests.
  • Clean up all spills immediately, even water.
  • Wipe up puddles formed by rain.

Crawling Pests

Ants and cockroaches can be found wherever food is present. Cockroaches, in particular, are pests you don’t want hanging around your patio. They are capable of carrying a number of disease-producing bacteria on their bodies, which can cause illnesses such as diarrhea, food poisoning and pneumonia. To help keep crawling pests from finding a meal on your patio, follow these tips:

  • Pressure wash your patio each night to remove crumbs and debris.
  • Keep parking and sidewalk areas free of trash and regularly hose them down.
  • Eliminate any mulch in the surrounding area where ant nests or mounds might be found.
  • Work with a pest management professional to implement these tactics and keep pests from taking up seats on your patio this year.

Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and board-certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New-Jersey based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets. Learn more about Western by visiting