keep bugs away from my balcony
February 18, 2007 1:33 PM   Subscribe

i've just moved into an apartment with a large tree right next to the balcony--i could touch the branches. what are good ways to keep the bugs away? i was thinking about a bird feeder...
posted by thinkingwoman to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
If by bugs you mean mosquitos, they do not inhabit trees, particularly -- they breed in standing water. Bird feeders, with seeds in them, will attract birds primarily in winter -- during the summer when the bugs are out they'll usually fend for themselves. Bats will eat lots of bugs, so a bat house might be in order. Swallows eat bugs, as well, but there's not much you can do to attract them.
posted by beagle at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2007

We need to know more. What kind of a tree is it? E.G. if it's a maple, you may be inundated with maple bugs later in the year. Maybe ask your neighbours if they notice any particular bug problems in summer? It really depends how much the complex sprays or not.
posted by Listener at 2:16 PM on February 18, 2007

Any more info on what bugs you want to keep away?

Also remember birds bring bird poop.
posted by imjosh at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2007

I have a hummingbird feeder hanging from a shepherd's crook pole attached to the railing on 3rd story patio, right next to some large trees. After I lost some battles with ants creating a trail from the tree to the railing, up the pole to the feeder, a friend suggested that I smear Vasoline all up and down the pole because ants won't walk through it. Indeed, it is true! I've had no more ants on the feeder. Since dust and dirt will stick to the Vasoline, I wipe it off and replace it every couple of weeks, but that's a small price to pay for having a clean feeder for my hummingbirds.
posted by seymour.skinner at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2007

Your landlords probably won't let you have a bird feeder, as they attract birds and squirrels, who will start trying to find a way to nest inside the building. Mine wouldn't.
posted by kindall at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: i have no idea what kind of tree it is--tall, deciduous (i just moved in, no leaves yet). bark is normal, not the peeling kind.

i mostly want to repel mosquitoes, spiders, and bees/wasps. so, everything. :)
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: and ants. i don't want ants.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:23 PM on February 18, 2007

i'm no ornithologist, but i imagine the birds who eat mostly seeds aren't that interested in eating bugs. i guess some birds are omivorous, though. maybe you need a lizard. also, putting a yellow flourescent mosquito bulb on the balcony in the summer will give you both mood lighting and somewhat fewer bugs.
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:40 PM on February 18, 2007

If you put a bird feeder in touching distance of a window, especially a balcony, I'd be way more concerned about the bird lice and ticks the birds would bring than I would be about whatever bugs happen to chill in the tree.

Can you take a picture of the tree so we can tell you what kind it is?
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2007

Trees, in and of themselves, will not make your apartment more mosquito, ant or spider-filled. You might find you get wasps visiting leaves late in the summer (looking for insect food), or a nest. But these are pretty random events.

Be happy you've got some built-in shade instead!
posted by gavia at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2007

i have no idea what kind of tree it is--tall, deciduous (i just moved in, no leaves yet). bark is normal, not the peeling kind.

i mostly want to repel mosquitoes, spiders, and bees/wasps. so, everything. :)

Don't worry about any of these buggies jumping off the tree into your house. Mosquitos, bees, and wasps don't really hang out in trees, the little spiders you sometimes see on trees are not going to leave their happy home to explore your house. There are some species of hornets that build nests in trees, but if you see a hornet's nest, you'll know it (and can then consult AskMe for further instructions.)
posted by desuetude at 5:44 PM on February 18, 2007

and ants. i don't want ants.

Don't leave food laying around and you won't see ants. Not sure how trees figure in; it's not like the ants need to climb the branches to get into your apartment. For mosquitoes, patrol around the building after each rain and make sure there's no standing water anywhere; that'll help. Also try here, but if you're outside breathing without repellant, they'll almost certainly find you, tree or not. Since you seem to have a bug thing, I figure attracting bats to your balcony isn't high on your list of solutions, but bats sure do eat a lot of bugs every night. For bees, hell, be thankful you still have bees around to pollinate. They're dying off in huge numbers around these parts, and unless you're allergic, shouldn't be a worry at all. I'd keep an eye out for wasp nests developing nearby and alert the landlord as soon as I saw one (we get one or two started on our porch each year and just knock them down on a cool night), but other than that, you're probably better off taking a deep breath and letting go of some of your fear of bugs and just enjoying the pretty tree next to your balcony. It's really cool to be closeup and watch buds slowly develop and then sproing! to bright green life. You'll love it, honest.
posted by mediareport at 9:45 PM on February 18, 2007

Depending on where you live, your big problem may be squirrels and not bugs. A bird feeder would attract them.

Many complexes have rules saying you can't hang a sheet of paper on your balcony, let alone a bird feeder or a mosquito light. Check your lease before you put anything up.
posted by watsondog at 10:49 PM on February 18, 2007

I used to live on the second floor of a concrete building in the middle of a wasteland of pavement. The nearest tree was a hundred yards away, and I still had bugs flying in at all hours. My favorite was a wasp that woke me up from a nap by stinging me on the behind. Before that, I lived in a place absolutely surrounded by trees - I could have easily crawled into my bedroom window with the help of a giant Magnolia, but I never had any bug problems at all (at least until the downstairs neighbor moved out and, after hauling about three truckloads of his trash away, they set off some bug bombs and all his roaches moved upstairs to my apartment - but that's another story). The difference? In the place with the trees, I had screens. That right there will take care of any flying bug problems. You can get expandable ones that are kind of held in place by tension, or if you don't much care for aesthetics, just buy a roll of screen and some duct tape. Or just keep the windows closed. That wouldn't be an option for me, but I hear some people are OK with it. Crawling bugs, like ants, will be coming in from the ground, so the tree isn't an issue there, but if you're still worried you can try to make sure that the branches aren't actually *touching* the house. Get a (stable) ladder and trim them back. Most crawly bugs can't jump.
posted by cilantro at 12:56 AM on February 19, 2007

Response by poster: thanks, for all the answers, folks.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:23 AM on February 19, 2007

« Older Image Header Manipulation   |   Help Me Learn To Use My Camera's Flash Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.