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I happen to know a thing or two about mosquitoes. The first thing I know about mosquitoes is that they’re the worst. The other thing I know about mosquitoes is that they think I’m the best. It is my curse in life that no matter how much toxic bug spray I put on my skin, no matter how many citronella candles I light, and no matter how many fragrant herbs I plant around my yard, every summer I will get swarmed and eaten alive by the pesky, buzzing insects. As I’m sure you can imagine, this makes outdoor dining a real drag.

Over the years I’ve tried every possible “natural” solution to keep mosquitoes away from me and the most successful one, by far, has been smoke. Unfortunately, the amount of smoke required to actually deter mosquitoes isn’t exactly healthy, and it can really ruin a dinner party vibe (though it is a great excuse to linger by the grill). I’ve even gotten so desperate as to consider a handful of not-so-natural options too. One common practice where I live (the Midwest) is having your entire yard regularly sprayed for mosquitoes. It works, but I have small kids, a dog, and backyard chickens, so I don’t want my grass treated with pesticides—especially ones that may or may not be deadly to bees. I’ve also seen rave reviews for the Thermacell, a small device that “saturates” the air with a mosquito-repelling chemical, but it’s not safe to use around food (or bees) so it’s definitely a no-go for dining alfresco.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution that doesn’t require murdering bees, making Eau de Deet your signature summer fragrance or finally answering that Facebook message from your high school friend shilling essential oils: A fan. Yes, a simple but powerful fan is all you need to keep mosquitoes away from your skin while eating and drinking outside. While a 2003 study found there’s more to it than the fact that mosquitoes can’t fly into the strong breeze created by a fan, I am living, breathing, bite-free proof that it works. And in addition to keeping mosquitoes off of your body, setting up a fan outside has the added benefits of keeping you cool and keeping flies off of your food. It’s really a win-win-win. Well, for everybody but the mosquitoes—and that’s just fine with me.

You can buy a special outdoor fan, but a regular table or pedestal fan stand works just as well (as long as you remember to take it inside when you’re done).

Vornado VFAN Jr. Vintage Air Circulator Fan

Vornado Senior Pedestal Standing Fan

Comfort Zone PowrCurve Oscillating Stand Fan

Smartmi Outdoor Pedestal Fan 2S