How to Keep Bugs Out of Your Jack-o-Lantern

One of the most time-honored fall traditions is carving up a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. It’s something that kids, adults, and insects look forward to as soon as the leaves start changing colors. After hours laboring over every detail, the last thing you want is a swarm of hungry bugs feasting on your work of art.

The freshly-opened insides of a pumpkin are just too tempting for most bugs to pass up. It’s like putting a bowl of opened candy on your front porch, especially once the pumpkin starts rotting. But that’s not going to happen this fall. We’ve rounded up our top expert tips on how to keep your jack-o-lantern looking good and free of yard pests throughout the fall.

Start by Picking the Right Pumpkin

If you pick a pumpkin that’s already on its last leg it will start to decompose and attract flies much quicker. Cucurbitologists (pumpkin experts) suggest looking for a very firm pumpkin that’s free of blemishes.

Clean Out All of the Guts

The pulp inside the pumpkin is the most delicious part. The less there is to nosh on, the fewer bugs there will be looking for a free meal. After cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the inside clean. You may need to apply a bit of pressure to remove it all. Bonus: Removing all of the pulp also reduces mold growth inside the jack-o-lantern.

Light a Citronella Candle Inside

Light has a way of attracting some insects, which means your illuminated jack-o-lantern is a bug beacon. That is, unless you use a citronella candle inside. Then suddenly your jack-o-lantern becomes a way to get rid of bugs rather than attracting them.

Keep the Jack-o-Lantern Out of the Sun

Sun exposure will speed up the decomposition process. Be mindful of where you place your jack-o-lanterns out in the yard and avoid direct sunlight when possible.

Treat the Outside to Delay Rotting

Most jack-o-lanterns begin to rot about a week after carving. You can prolong the life of your jack-o-lantern by treating the outside. Once you are done with the design, rub lemon juice, vaseline or vegetable oil on the outside of the pumpkin. This helps it maintain its color, delays rotting and helps keep insects away.


Spray the Inside With Bleach Water

Spraying the inside of your jack-o-lantern with a solution of one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water can provide three benefits. First, it will prevent many bugs from crawling around inside. Second, it helps the pumpkin stay moist inside to delay rotting. Third, it’s an antimicrobial solution that prevents mold growth.

Store Your Jack-o-Lantern in the Fridge

Prolonging the life of your jack-o-lantern and protecting it from bugs also depends on how you store it. Ideally, pumpkins should be kept around 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures dip below that jack-o-lanterns should be brought inside to avoid freezing.

Some people clear out space in their fridge for the jack-o-lantern so it continues looking fresh. Storing the jack-o-lantern in the fridge overnight also prevents nocturnal and early morning insects from munching on the pumpkin.

Did your jack-o-lantern invite a pest infestation? The team at Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. can provide custom pest control treatments as well as personalized advice on how to prevent pests around your home this fall. Give us a call today to schedule an on-site inspection.

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