Picnics, pests, and food safety

May 24, 2019, 09:18 AM by John Rodden

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is upon us. And while you celebrate the holiday by taking in a ballgame or parade, or you throw a backyard bash, Clark, your neighborly termite, lawn care, and pest control expert, would like to remind you that unwanted pests are more than eager to crash the proceedings and threaten the safety of your food.

How do you keep pests such as flies, cockroaches, stinging insects, spiders and ants from becoming a nuisance and potential health threat to you and your family?

Pests – especially stinging insects and ants – are attracted to food that has sugar content. These include soft drinks, cake frosting, barbecue sauces, and marinades. Flies and cockroaches have less discriminating palates, and will feast on crumbs, oils, grease, garbage, and waste. And for flies, the smellier, the better – as they are attracted to foul odors.

Aside from spoiling a perfectly good cookout or picnic, pests can spread harmful bacteria, including Salmonella or E. coli, by coming in contact with your food after they have visited other less appetizing items, such as rotting garbage, feces, or animal carcasses.

When planning your Memorial Day picnic or any outdoor event that involves food, make sure to follow good sanitation and food preparation practices. Some things you can do include:

  • Pick up leftover bottles and wrappers and clean up crumbs and spills.
  • Frequently empty garbage or recycle bins to make your picnic or cookout less attractive to these hungry pests.
  • Keep food tightly covered in plastic containers or covered with foil or plastic wrap before and after cooking.
  • Don’t leave soda cans uncovered, as the sugary, sweet ingredients can attract ants or stinging insects.

Grilling food safety tips from the pros

The experts at Weber Grills know a thing or two about grilling, and they also know about safely preparing food on the grill. We’ve adapted the following tips from a recent Weber Grills blog post that remind both expert and novice backyard barbecue chefs that it isn’t just about the actual food – such as beef, pork, chicken, or fish – but the grilling utensils you use as well. It only takes a few extra steps, but it’s amazing how this is so often overlooked.

  • Clean your grilling tools and anything else that comes in contact with raw meats. Once you put the food on the grill, make sure to wash all utensils and plates that contacted the meat, or have an extra, clean set available at hand. The last thing you want is your spatula or tongs hanging on the grill with raw juice dripping off the end, attracting stinging insects and flies.
  • Having clean tools and a fresh plate to place the meat on once it comes off the grill ensures there is no mixing between raw and cooked.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after handling uncooked meat.
  • Wipe off the grill handle. In the hot summer months, bacteria can set in pretty quick on surfaces like grill handles, especially if your hands have raw juices or marinades on them and you open and close the grill. Flying insects can also be attracted to these surfaces.
  • Use a meat thermometer will ensure that you have safely grilled your meat. The CDC recommends 145 degrees for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meat, and 165 degrees for poultry.

Following good food safety practices and using a healthy dose of common sense as you get ready for a summer full of fun can protect you, your family, and guests.

A salute to our heroes

Clark Pest Control would like to salute all of those who have served our great nation, along with those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. May we never take them for granted, and if you see an active duty member of the military or a veteran this weekend, please thank them for their service to our country.

If you have questions or concerns about pests in or around your home, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email Clark at

Until next time, I’m Clark, and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.

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