June 01, 2000
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts June 2000 Current Issue
June 2000
Short Cuts:
Keeping bugs at bay

There’s nothing like a soft breeze and a crisp, starry night to set the mood for a spectacular outdoor event. But count on coping with unwanted guests mosquitoes, flies and ants among them. Don Bontemps, director of operations for Ft. Lauderdale-based Insite Management, recalls a wedding where, just before the ceremony, fire ants crawled up the bride’s train from an anthill near the alter and began feasting on her legs. Now, Bontemps advises planners to check the ground for anthills and to move festivities away from infested areas ideally to a patio, which is less likely than grass to harbor insects.

Mosquitos and their flying friends come out in force at night, says Rick Vita, director of catering and convention services at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans. It’s safest to keep the buffet indoors, but for those who do insist on setting food outside, Vita places citronella candles under serving tables at the perimeter of the dining area, while Bontemps creates functional decor by tucking the candles into hollowed-out pineapples. And, so guest don’t become the dinner entree for mosquitos, some facilities stock cans of bug spray, which are ceremoniously passed on serving trays at the start of the function.

It’s better to warn participants than to hope the bugs go unnoticed, Bontemps believes. For events in prime insect territory, like the Florida Everglades, he leaves guests a turndown note reminding them to wear long sleeves and pants. Upon arrival, attendees are presented with what Bontemps calls “a little survival kit,” complete with bug repellent, a logoed fly swatter and sometimes a safari hat equipped with a net.


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