I worked in a backyard office for two years and one of the most annoying things to deal with were not difficult clients or tight deadlines. No, the most annoying thing was definitely unwanted bugs and insects!
Luckily, there are some things that you can do in and around the office to help you have an insect free backyard office.
A backyard office can be kept free from insects and bugs by performing regular maintenance checks for any cracks or holes in the floor or walls. Sealing off cracks and other openings should keep insects and rodents outside. It’s also important to establish good eating habits, as well as proper waste management in your backyard office. Commercial products are also a good option to eliminate pests and bugs.
From what I’ve learned with some research, and also from my own personal experience, there are a few common bugs and insects that tend to infiltrate your backyard office. For the purpose of this article, I’ll mainly focus on just the common insects and how you can deal with them. But first, I’ll share 3 things that you can start doing now to keep your office insect free…
3 Things You Can Do for an Insect Free Backyard Office
We typically spend about 8 hours a day in our offices. Even if your job requires you to be on the road most of the time, you will still spend a good amount of time in your office. Sometimes, without knowing it, we can make mistakes or have bad habits that lead to a bug infestation. Here I’ve listed the 3 most important things that we can rectify to help keep the bugs out!
1. Good Eating Habits
Some people prefer to eat their meals and snacks at their desk, especially in a larger office where caretakers will clean up after hours. But in your own home office it’s different as you may not have a caretaker to clean up after you. By eating at your desk, you’re likely to spill bits of food or crumbs on your desk, chair and floor. This can attract the likes of ants and cockroaches to your workstation.
I had a bad habit of leaving unsealed soda drinks unattended on my desk. Moist alone is a common insect magnet, but sugary drinks are even worse as they attract ants and bees to your workstation.
You should get in the habit of eating your meals and snacks away from your work desk, although, most people (including me) are not comfortable moving all across the room or going outside to enjoy a meal or snack. Instead, just be plain old mindful of keeping your surroundings crumb-free. Take a few extra seconds (yes, seconds!) to lay a big enough napkin on your desk before you start eating. That way, when you’re done, you can crumple up the napkin and trap all the crumbs inside the napkin which you can then discard. Also, be sure to discard your soda cans or juice boxes immediately after they’re consumed.
2. Proper Waste Management
We talked about how you can eliminate the spilling of food bits and crumbs around your workstation. The proper disposal of food and drinks are just as important.
If you dispose of half-eaten meals or unfinished drinks into a trash can and leave it inside your office for an entire week – that could spell disaster. If you do not empty your trash can on a more regular basis (daily, for example), then your disposed food and drink can attract pests and insects that thrive on scraps of food. Even worse, you could get maggots!
Always remember to dispose the contents of your trash can in an appropriate location, such as your home pantry or even better – an outdoor refuse area.
3. Maintenance Checks
Performing regular maintenance checkups would be wise to do. Things to look for are mainly cracks and gaps, as well as any potential moisture build up – especially in a wooden backyard office.
Cracks, gaps, and other openings are welcomed entry points to all unwanted pests and rodents. Spiders, cockroaches, and ants can enter in large numbers with just one tiny hole somewhere. Even mice can get through the tiniest of cracks and gaps. Rodents can cause actual damage as they often chew on wires and documents that are lying around.
Moisture, on the other hand, attracts termites. And let’s say the moisture doesn’t attract termites at all, your wood can still rot and spoil with just moisture alone.
If your backyard office was built correctly (not resting directly on soil), then you shouldn’t have any moisture problems. Any cracks or gaps that you find should be sealed immediately. Rather spend an hour every month or two, instead of dealing with pesky bugs or rodents!
7 Annoying Insects to Keep Out of Your Backyard Office
A quick online search reported over ONE MILLION different species for insects! Obviously, I won’t cover them all, so here I’ve listed the most common insects that are more likely to enter your backyard office. Oh, and they’re annoying too! Then again, what insects are NOT annoying?
I must admit, mosquitoes are number one on this list only because they are the most annoying insects to me personally. These blood-sucking pests seem to love me – but the feeling is far from mutual. The last thing you want is for a productive day in the office to turn into a scratching marathon!
Most mosquito activity happens in the Summer. They are generally attracted to body odor and heat, so if you perspire regularly then you probably also fall victim to mosquito love. They feed during the day and night, but their most productive feedings occur at dusk. Fun fact: Only female mosquitoes do the biting!
In some places, primarily Africa, mosquitoes can be deadly as they transmit malaria. So if you do feel feverish and fatigue after a mosquito bite then it would be a wise decision to seek medical attention. Rather safe than sorry.
There are a ton of repellents and products available that will get rid of mosquitoes, from wrist-bands to sprays, zappers and traps. I find that the Katchy Electric Insect Trap (link to Amazon) is quite a cool product that works like a bomb for mosquitoes and flies.
Flies come in many shapes and sizes. The most common flies that will visit your backyard office are house flies and fruit flies. House flies are attracted to decaying organic filth like rotting meat for example whereas fruit flies will feast on overripe fruit and spilled sugary drinks.
There are a ton of tricks to get rid of flies. A simple one would be to fill a shallow bowl with about an inch of apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar. Add some fruit-scented dish soap for extra measure. You can leave the bowl open and after a few hours it should be full of flies. If you’re not one for a bowl full of drowning flies (I’m not), then the Katchy trap above will take care of flies too.
Carpenter ants, fire ants, and flying ants are just a few of the many ant species out there. But the ants that are most likely to invade your office are little black ants – you know the one. These ants have the ability to magically appear overnight, in what seems like millions!
Ants are attracted to any sugary stuff like drops of sweet food and sugary drink spills. Due diligence will go a long way in preventing an ant invasion. Wipe away any spills and sweep out or vacuum any food bits that you accidentally dropped.
Simply stomping on ants or sweeping them out won’t do much to prevent them from coming back. You’ll notice that they always travel in a trail, that’s because there’s a colony somewhere in your home or office. The ants that you see marching are gathering food for the colony, so getting rid of just the ants that are visible will only mean that another group of ants will appear later. To eliminate the source (the colony), you can simply mix one part Borax to one part sugar and leave it in something small like a bottle cap. If you can, leave it directly in their trail. This way, they’ll take the Borax and sugar back to the colony (not knowing the difference between the two substances), and the colony will have a nice feast and then shortly pass on.
These guys have the ability to produce screams that will make you think you’re starring in a horror movie. Cockroaches may have the ability to survive a nuclear blast, but they are totally harmless insects.
Cockroaches prefer warmer temperatures, they do not like the cold or extremely hot conditions. Roaches can go for up to 3 months without any food, but when they do feast then they prefer anything that has nutritional value. They’re particularly attracted to sugar, grease, starch, and meats. Any decaying food bits are a delight for roaches. If your backyard office doesn’t have a bathroom or kitchen, then it should be safe from a cockroach infestation as they like to nest under stoves and fridges and any areas where there’s moisture.
Practicing cleanliness will keep roaches out. Seal up any cracks and holes, not only will this help with preventing roaches from entering, but other insects too. Also, fix any water leaks as moisture will draw these bugs. There are various cockroach baits and sprays available or you could use the good old-fashioned shoe. Just remember: Everybody’s brave until they realize that the cockroach has wings!
Personally, I find ladybugs adorable little creatures. In fact, some people even build ladybug catchers just to capture them! However, you may find them annoying and you’re probably not alone.
A ladybug infestation is most likely to happen during the Winter when they’re looking for a place to hibernate. They are particularly attracted to brightly colored homes and the heat that’s reflected off these homes – the same applies to sheds and offices or any other structure. And once they get in, they’re tough to get out. Ladybugs release pheromones which are then picked up by other ladybugs who are looking for shelter. To ladybugs on the outside, it’s almost as if they receive a signal to let them know a campsite was found. Those pheromones can be detected from 1/4 mile away and stay active for months or even years.
I’ve heard people use vacuums to trap ladybugs and release them to the outdoors. If you do get the ladybugs out, make sure you seal any cracks or creaks to prevent them from returning to the inside.
Fleas are another enemy of mine. These insects are almost invisible to the naked eye, but when they bite you, it feels as if your body is on fire – okay, maybe I exaggerate, but it is annoying. Many people believe that fleas are attracted to light but they’re actually repelled by it. They are attracted to body warmth and prefer to burrow in carpet and fur. That’s why it’s not uncommon to find fleas on your pets.
Getting rid of fleas in your office should be way easier than trying to remove them from your home. A simple flea solution is to mix some warm water with some dish soap in a small bowl and leave it in your office overnight. This acts as a glue that will attract any fleas that occupy your space. Overnight is best because fleas are nocturnal insects. You should repeat this each night until you no longer see any fleas in the bowl. This flea spray (link to Amazon) works great! Just spray it on your desk, chair, window and door openings, and any other cracks or creaks to keep the fleas away.
A slug is basically a snail without a shell to hide in, so don’t be surprised that they chose your office to hide in. A slug isn’t truly an insect, but they are still a pest. They leave disgusting, long slimy trails all over your floors and walls, that often appear overnight. One of my worst fears when spotting a slug around is that I accidentally step on it!
I found that slugs are usually attracted to cool and dark, or damp areas – which makes sense because I only see them around on my cold kitchen floor, mainly in Winter. They are also attracted to some house plants so if you have some garden related decor in your office, that could be the reason for your slug problem. They also have a good sense of smell and may make a visit if there’s food lying around.
There are multiple ways to get rid of slugs – from throwing salt on them to picking them up with a stick and throwing them in a bowl of water. I personally prefer not to do any of those as I can be a bit squeamish when it comes to slugs. If you are like me, then your best bet would be this slug bait from Amazon, from what I hear – it’s magic.
Following the tips that I’ve shared in this article will most definitely help to eliminate those unwanted bugs. However, there are times where it’s left too late and they just keep coming back, or worse, they’ve started a little home of their own!
The advantage of keeping your backyard office insect free is that the structure is usually small. It’s difficult to find hidden infestations in a house, but in a backyard office it should be much easier. Your worse case scenario would be to hire a professional pest control service to solve your problem.