Longer days and warmer nights mean that outdoor dining season is finally here. Whether that means leisurely evenings on the patio feasting with family or friends, or just a moment of Zen with a cocktail and a sunset, we look for any excuse to stay outside during these precious few months of summer.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are out there, too, and dusk is peak time for them to be looking for their next meal. In other words, they're on the patio at the same time we are. Of course, you could pick up some commercial citronella candles. Or you could make your own!
Some minimal internet searching for do-it-yourself mosquito control led me to a wine bottle tiki torch. It's an inexpensive and straightforward project that promises to solve my bug problem and provide some warm, fiery light.
Empty, clean glass bottle — it doesn't have to be a wine bottle. You might use a pretty liquor bottle or something else with a narrow mouth.
Half-inch coupling — the little piece of hardware used to connect garden hoses. This helps to keep the wick in place.
Tiki torch replacement wick
Citronella torch fuel. This natural mosquito repellent works by masking human smell; it also confuses the bugs when they fly into the smoke.
Small pebbles or stones (optional)
Decorative rope (optional)
First, fill the bottle about halfway with small stones if you have them. This reduces the amount of fuel you will need to fill the bottle. You can leave the outside of the bottle as is, or you can decorate it. I experimented with wrapping a thin piece of rope around the bottom portion of the bottle. The rope can be secured with wood glue or a hot glue gun.
Using a funnel — or a very steady hand — pour the citronella torch fuel into the wine bottle until it's about three-fourths full. Insert the coupling into the bottle and then insert your wick. Wait at least 10 minutes before lighting to ensure that the wick has become saturated with fuel.
Then, sit back and enjoy your evening without those little flying friends. Use caution around children.
The original print version of this article was headlined "No-Fly Zone"